Managing a costume shop is more than the day-to-day staffing, scheduling, budget reconciliation, and production meetings. There is also long-term goal planning and implementation. Below are examples of some long-term projects related to safety and productivity that I have created and successfully implemented as a shop manager; as well as examples of various paperwork–I’m a sucker for a well-made spreadsheet.
Dye Isolation Box
To help reduce the spread of airborne dye powder particles while mixing, I designed an isolation box. Basing my design off of scientific isolation (glove) boxes, it is large enough to contain the detergent-style bottles of Rit ProLine–the largest chemical containers in the shop stock–as well as any/all utensils and tools. I collaborated closely with the scene shop, who built the final product.
Stock Management and Rental Database
During the Pandemic Pause, I used the time to develop a customized stock inventory and rental database using Microsoft Access. A robust program, the inventory is fully searchable by a variety of parameters, search results can be emailed to guest designers, and rental paperwork can be quickly created. I named the program “Jarvis” because the butler knows everything.
Show Budget Tracking
Budget tracker sheet created in Excel for materials for a single production. Each transaction is broken down into items total, shipping, and tax and tracked individually. The order total is calculated automatically and deducted from the full budget amount showing a running total of how much has been spent, and what is remaining. If the production goes over budget, the “Remaining” line turns into a red negative number. This was created as a collaborative document with all Costume Staff members with a credit card entering in their own transactions.
Color coding for estimated returns, completed returns, transfers to another budget line, and estimates/quotes from vendors. A yellow highlight indicates that the transaction has been reconciled with the credit card/accounting dept.
To help maintain work-life balance during tech and preview weeks, I create “Tech on Deck” schedules for the Costume Department for each production (costumes & wigs primarily). This ensures that there is an even distribution of night shifts, and that everyone is guaranteed at least one day off in a 7-day span. “On deck” refers to who is the point person for notes in the shop, and/or who is in the house with the designer.
To start the budgeting discussions for a new season with Production Management, I’ve created formulas to determine a high, medium, and low budget estimate based on number of actors and number of costume looks in each show. Additional factors such as costumes for crew and/or band, as well as special guest walk-on roles are included. Hair/wig estimates are based on the number of estimated wigs, as well as including estimates for hair product, and outside stylists.