Backstage with Coscraft!
MCM blog May 2023
Another London Comic Con has been and gone, and we thought we’d share how those events work from our perspective!
We usually start preparing for the event well in advance. Preparing means, as close as possible to the event, we pack up countless boxes of wigs, books, wig accessories, dyes, clays—everything we’re planning to sell. We took pre-orders for items that customers could collect at MCM, so we make sure to gather all of those up as well.
We have 82 colours, and we took 14 of our standard wig styles to Comic Con, as well as the various additional clip-ons and sections, and all the character wigs. It’s a vast amount of combinations, and it requires a lot of careful calculating (and some wild guesswork) before the event to guess how many we need to bring of each type. Sometimes we get it wrong! It’s very hard to predict what colours will be most popular in advance, no matter how hard we try.
We also have to figure out how we’re going to display everything on the stall. We have a lot of products and fitting everything in is always a challenge, as we like to let people feel the wig fibres and examine things close-up, so we'd rather not hang things up high and out of reach. This time we needed a lot more display heads than before, because of all our new character wigs. We also had to fit them all on the stall, so we tried out a two-tier system of shelves. (Monty Python shrubbery jokes were made.)
On the Thursday before Comic Con, some wonderful friends of ours came up to the warehouse. They helped us load all those boxes onto two big rental vans, and drove them (and us) down to London ExCeL.
We got there at about 2pm, meeting up with more friends. We’re really lucky we have a regular gang of awesome friends who always come along to Comic Con to help us out. Without their help, there’s no way the three of us could manage it. Once we’d unloaded the vans, we began setting up our stall with everyone’s help. This usually takes us several hours—putting all the boxes into order, setting up our rainbow back wall of Jeri wigs in every colour, arranging everything on the front tables, putting up our feather flags and banners. This time we were there right up until the last possible moment (mostly because we forgot a few things and had to improvise).
On Friday, the event opened at 10am to priority ticket holders. We were there early, as were our crew, making last-minute tweaks and adjustments right up until opening. We three Coscraft staff always try to dress up for working at Comic Con, since we are cosplayers and our shop came about because of our passion for the hobby. That meant getting up extra early to do our makeup and tweak our wigs, but it’s well worth it when people get excited to see us wearing Tataru or Kayley or Aki behind the stall!
We and the rest of the crew took the opportunity to go and do some shopping of our own on Friday morning, while the crowds were still light. As always there were many tempting items in the artist alley and the vendor areas, and we indulged in some minor retail therapy as a result—the Coscraft warehouse gained a new figure and several new art prints from our haul.
General entry opened at noon, and it suddenly got a lot busier at our stall. We got to see a lot of wonderful cosplays. Genshin Impact was very popular amongst those cosplayers, as was Chainsaw Man and Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. We also saw a lot of cosplays from older series, making us all feel a bit nostalgic—Star Trek: The Next Generation! Vocaloid! Prince of Tennis! Inuyasha! And Bleach got a resurgence too thanks to the Thousand-Year Blood War arc.
The event closed at 7pm, and we headed over to a wonderful nearby Chinese restaurant, a longstanding Coscraft-at-Comic-Con tradition. Our stall at Comic Con is staffed entirely by friends who come along and volunteer their time, and we always make sure to feed them well.
On the Saturday all three of us Coscraft staff wore Final Fantasy XIV cosplays, using samples from our upcoming FFXIV wig range! We think they’ve turned out really well, and we hope customers like them as much as we do.
We saw a lot of people with crimped wigs this year—far more than usual, thanks to a lot of video tutorials around the internet. Quite a few people bought wigs from us on the Friday to wear on the Saturday, and a lot of them came back to show us. We love it when this happens! It’s always a joy to see how people have used our products, and we’re very lucky that customers come back to let us admire them.
Saturday is the day when Comic Con cosplayers tend to pull out their flashiest costumes. Our stall was right next to Cosplay Central so we were well-placed to see amazing ballgowns and intricate armour and huge props and adorable mascots. We try to compliment as many costumes as we can, and there’s a lot to compliment. The inventiveness and creativity on display at Comic Con is remarkable, and we are at heart big nerds so we still get very excited to see people dressed up as characters we love.
Saturday is a very long day for those of us working at the event, even if we do also have fun. By the end of the day we were all a little footsore and very tired, and very grateful for another excellent Chinese meal and some well-earned rest in the evening.
On Sundays we usually set ourselves some sort of goal, to sell out of a particular wig or item before the end of the event. This year we sold out of several of our character wigs and quite a few specific style/colour combinations. We sold more clip-in extensions, clip-on ponytails and lace sections than ever before. And, for once, every single pre-ordered item was collected before the end of the day!
This was also, unusually, the day we had people coming up to the stall with lists of items they wanted. Usually that happens on the Friday, or first-thing on Saturday morning. We love it when people have lists but we do think it is a bit riskier on a Sunday as we may well have run out of stock of some things.
Sunday was the ‘shortest’ day of London Comic Con, because the event closed at 5pm to attendees. It wasn’t the end of the event for us, however—we had to take all our remaining stock home. We packed our stall down and got all our stock into the vans in very short time, and then we had one final group meal in a nearby hotel (another fine Coscraft at MCM tradition) before setting off back to our warehouse at about 8:30pm.
All the stock was back in the warehouse by 10:30pm on Sunday, a new record for us!
Monday was a bank holiday, and we were all very grateful for a full day of rest because 3 days (23 hours excluding set up/break down) of MCM retail was a lot, especially as we couldn't really stay seated to sell wigs. It took 3 of us several days to fully unpack all the stock left over from MCM, as we had to fit it around our usual work schedule. But there’s always a lot less to unpack than we took with us, and we all find we’re a bit more inspired to work on our own cosplays after seeing wonderful creations at MCM!