Masquerade

Oct 20, 2010 No Comments

Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and caldron bubble…Eye of newt, and toe of frog, wool of bat or tongue of dog – for a charm of powerful trouble, or of power rangers, zoom over to Ursula’s Costumes and be cast a spell on you. Boo!
Ursula Boschet has been dressing up thousands of wannabes for over thirty-five years. From witches to wenches, Counts to Countess, there’s not a Halloween that goes by, where a week prior to October 31st, queues start forming around the block to enter this maison of the masquerade. Whatever you’re into, from the scary to the hairy, the weird to the wacky, Ursula’s got you covered.

Ursula’s and husband immigrated to this country in 1962 and settled in Los Angeles “We had nothing, but were just grateful to be here. I got a job as a seamstress at the Music Center, downtown, making costumes for the theatrical productions.”

It didn’t take long before the movie studios heard about this woman with the magical hands and wanted her to make their stars shine. “In those days, Disney had their “Shows on Parade” all over the world. When they decided to stop the touring, I worked a lot of movies…too many to remember.”

By the mid 70’s, Ursula, tired of the long hours and low wages, saw a golden opportunity and took it. “ When Disney and its partner at the time NBC, decided to sell their costume production house, and take their business in-house, me and two other seamstress pulled our money together and purchased the business right there at the Culver City Studios.(today, Sony Pictures.)”

Not long after the purchase, Boschet’s partners hemmed and hawed and decided they wanted a steady paycheck and went back to work for the theatres and movie studios. With her husband’s encouragement Ursula decided she could be a success dressing up ordinary people for less and the rich for much more. 34 years later, she sells and rents out costumes that range from $40.00 to $900.00. And you better be sure before you buy. “I’m not a free service. People try and use the costume and than return it. I mean the high end stuff.” There are less expensive Halloween costumes sold at stores, from local drug store, to titans such as Wal Mart. “Everyone sells them now,” Boschet said. “They shouldn’t do that. We don’t sell groceries.”

Her specialty shop is stocked from floor to ceiling with costumes, masks, accessories – you name it, she’s got it. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, but can describe it, she’ll make it. For those of you who really want to authentic a traditional masquerade ball, she has imported, handmade, one-of-a-kind Venetian Carnival masks in-store. The price? If you have to ask, it’s best that you go to the drug store.

Her recession proof business plan is a simple as the signs all over the store will attest; absolutely no refunds, no exchanges and all sales are final. And she has never waived. “It’s hard sometimes…they’ll say, I’m never coming back, but they always do.”And if you think renting is cheaper, think again. “Our rentals are hand made and one of a kind and can go as high as $500.00 per rental with a $1000, 00 deposit. If the costume is ruined, it is now yours to keep, for $1000, 00.”

Paparazzi stalk the small back parking lot, trying to get a shot of celebrities entering the store with or without their children. Some Hollywood stars and other clients have her design custom adult and children’s costumes that sell for hundred dollars,” she said. “I make the high end costume. This has always been why I have been successful – quality over quantity.”

She’ll be the first to tell you, her goal was not to become a millionaire, but to do what she loves. The employees must be happy at what they do as well. She has a total of 10 employees, most of which have been with her for over a dozen years.

So who best to ask, what’s hotter than Hades this Halloween? “Star Wars, again,” she laughs and adds, “Top Gun. They just started selling them after the movie came out years ago. And the little girls always like to be princesses and the boys – anything scary. Forget the new books and movies, Vampires and Witches have always been big sellers, especially the teeth and fake blood,” she said. “We just got in these new individual fangs that attach to the tooth!”

Just like to her business plan, she said, “you know what success is for me? Satisfaction is guaranteed before you walk out of my store. Life is like my store policy, no returns, re-funds or exchanging the disguise that is you.”

No matter what the occasion, Ursula’s has the right outfit and accessories to make you the Bell or Beelzebub of the ball if you can’t make it to the store you can always order online at www.ursulascostumes.com.

Ursula’s Costumes is located at 2516 Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica, CA. 90403. Go online or call (310) 582-8320. And don’t be surprised if Ursula answers the call.

Written by: Valerie Scott

Cities, Featured, Los Angeles, Novelty, She Walks The Talk
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