Woman Turns Costuming Into a Business

By Irma Widjojo
Times-Herald, Vallejo, Calif.

Mackenzie Marshall has been dressing up in elaborate costumes as she was growing up as an actress at Renaissance faires.

However, Marshall, now 28, said she had a difficult time finding costumes that fit her body type.

“There weren’t a lot of costumes that fit curvier women,” she said during an interview at her studio on Mare Island.
Instead of settling with the few dress options, Marshall took the issue in her own hand.

She then learned sewing from her grandmother, and fell in love with the history of period dresses in high school.
“It’s amazing how each country is so different,” Marshall said. “In understanding what they wore, you understand how they lived. … It’s kind of neat.”

After years of making costumes for herself and friends and family, the Vallejo woman decided to turn her passion into a business after injuring herself at her former job as a pipe fitter.

Two years ago, Marshall opened Mackenzie Kay Costuming, specializing in the 15th to late 18th, early 19th century period custom-made outfits, for any gender, age and size.

“I like it all!” she said.

Her husband, Randy Bartlett, gave her the idea to open the venture.

“He said I should do it full-time. It gave me the opportunity to be comfortable,” she said. “I’d rather be creative … I couldn’t be happier.”

Other than outfits for festivals and faires, Marshall also has been commissioned for a few weddings, including her own wedding dress, which took eight months to make, she said.

Marshall said it takes as short as a week, to as long as a few months, to finish a dress, depending on how elaborate it is.

“I do my own patterns, sketches… sometimes I make my own fabric,” she said.

The self-taught seamstress said her customers come from all over the Bay Area, but she has even had one from Kentucky.
The less than stellar economy, however, has not caused too many problems for her fledgling business.

“I’m kind of a niche business,” Marshall said. “So everything I’ve done is very seasonal. … But I did learn to be a little bit more flexible (with payments). I had to give up something to get something else.”

After outgrowing her house, about three months ago she rents a work space at the Coal Shed Studios on Mare Island, where she said she spends most of her waking hours during the busy season.

The Coal Shed provides work and gallery space for artists, and is not open to public other than by appointments.

Marshall said she has not regretted the decision to follow her calling.

“Whatever you feel comfortable with, it’s what you should do,” she said. “It leads you to cool things.”

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

To Top