The terms “bespoke”, “custom made, “made to order” along with “artisanal”, “curated” and “one-of-a-kind” are buzz words used to describe, and market, goods. Some are buzzier than others, but they all mean something the maker makes at the request of the customer. It is in essence a partnership. When I make any piece I have someone in mind, either real or imagined, but when I make a piece with a customer, using their ideas, their wants, and in some cases their designs, then I really have to give my whole attention to them.
I take note of the way they dress, their body type and size, the shoes they wear, their belt, their jacket, anything that adds details to the story I am forming in my head about them. In many ways bespoke projects, where I speak with the customer, are more difficult than when I make something for the idealized customer in my imagination. I want to listen very carefully to what the bespoke customer says so that I can not only make exactly what they want but also make it better than what they want. My main concern, always, is that the customer will be happy.
Most bespoke projects require that I learn a new skill or work with a new material or design. I love that. But it also adds time to the process, and I am terrible at estimating how long a project will take me. I always underestimate, no matter how much of a buffer I add to the estimate. So, that means I don’t usually make much of a profit on bespoke items. Still the pleasure of partnering with the client makes it worth while.