With so much else on your plate, from navigating virtual learning to keeping your studio afloat, it can be tempting to to cut corners or to settle for less in order to check "costumes" off of this season's to-do list. Ultimately, though, finding a costume vendor you trust is paramount to keeping your stress levels low and parent satisfaction high, not to mention helping your students look—and feel—their absolute best. Remember: You are the client, and you deserve exceptional service. And costume companies like A Wish Come True are ready to go above and beyond for their customers, but it's important that you know what to ask for. Here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your costume company.
Rosa D'Aleo on her visit to A Wish Come True's Bristol, PA, factory
Developing a relationship with your sales contact will help you understand the company's procedures and fulfillment processes, and they'll learn your style preferences and specific needs. Are you currently on a first-name basis with your sales representative? If not, you might want to rethink whether you're getting the best customer service experience.
Luckily, it doesn't take much effort on your part to get the ball rolling. Renee Stojek, A Wish Come True's Marketing Director, explains, "You can take small steps to building a relationship, like signing up for a quick Zoom meeting, or following the company on Facebook or Instagram."
When Rosa D'Aleo opened Royal Dance Center of Babylon, New York, in 2014, she first researched several companies before choosing one for her recital costumes. She was most impressed with A Wish Come True in Bristol, Pennsylvania, and she is still working with the same sales rep she's had since day one. "I went to their annual costume show, met the owner, got a factory tour, and was really impressed with the quality of the costumes," she says. "That first year, I didn't have to return a single costume—the sizes were right on, and their customer service was everything."
Some vendors manufacture their costumes in overseas factories, which might help bring down costs, but doesn't always guarantee a consistent, quality product. Plus, production can take longer, which can then impact shipping and arrival estimates. "You pay for what you get. A Wish Come True is charging appropriately for the quality you receive, and it's made right here in the U.S.," D'Aleo says. "I know everything is going to come on time and it's going to fit my students."
For 30 years, the family-owned business has had a goal to create the highest-quality, American-made dance costumes with the most dependable fit and exceptional customer service, says Stojek. A Wish Come True's offices, factory, and customer service teams are all under one roof, so it's an easy conversation amongst colleagues to see whether an order can be expedited or if a certain fabric lot is still available. "Fabric dye lots can change over time, and that's important to know when your costumes need to have the exact same look onstage," Stojek says. "We can tell you if it has changed, or if you call for an exchange, we'll be able to get you the exact same costume."
Courtesy A Wish Come True
What happens if you find the perfect costume to fulfill your artistic vision, but there isn't an option for the lone boy in class? Or, what if one of your younger dancers requires an adult size? Can your vendor handle special requests like these in a timely manner?
D'Aleo says she's had students grow out of their costumes before showtime, and A Wish Come True was willing to do a size exchange for her. She's also requested costumes for her male students, so they had costumes to match or complement what the girls were wearing. "They'll make it happen. It's phenomenal," she says. "With other companies, it just isn't the same."
Courtesy A Wish Come True
Is your vendor helping you reach your maximum potential benefits? Ask them about the company's volume discount structure, and if it offers any loyalty plans. The more you order, the bigger the discount. And some vendors give extra perks in return for your continued loyalty.
One way to get the best volume discount is by combining recital, holiday, competition and dance-team catalog orders. At A Wish Come True, for example, the volume discount provides 8 percent off of a $1,500 order—and the savings increase as the order size increases.
A Wish Come True also offers another discount when you participate in a free in-person or virtual costume showcase tailored just for your studio. Make an appointment to shop the company's full collection in its showroom, or gather your teachers together for a personalized Zoom call. Whichever way you do it, you not only get the newest catalog and some fun promo items in advance, you'll get a $100 credit or an additional 3 percent discount for attending in person, or a $100 credit for attending virtually.
"You can really increase your discount right off the bat, especially if you start getting free shipping or free size exchanges," Stojek says. "Let your teachers know what two or three books you'll be ordering from so you can get the best discounts. That will also make it so much less complicated for the studio owner or office manager."
The Bottom Line
Courtesy A Wish Come True
"The bottom line is, the more your costume company knows about you, the better they can serve you," says Stojek. "Small family-owned businesses like A Wish Come True can be flexible to fit your studio's unique needs."