Written by Cheryl Cottrell-Smith
Most vendor halls at pop culture conventions feature the standard wares: plushies, comic books, video games, and collectibles. While these items are great, it can be difficult to find something unique, which is why Aria’s Apparel is such a breath of fresh air. The company, which is run out of Estevan, Saskatchewan, sells pop culture-themed cosplay aprons, along with custom designs to suit everyone’s interests.
Inspired by her daughters’ interests in video games and nerd culture, Aria’s Apparel owner Reta began sewing themed aprons in summer of 2014.
“The first aprons I made were for my four girls,” says Reta. “They thought they were adorable. I used to sew quilts and had a lot of fabric on hand, so I made a few aprons to donate to my daughters’ fundraiser for Relay for Life. They held an auction on Facebook and my two aprons were bid on quite a lot and had lots of encouraging comments. That’s when the girls said, ‘Mom, you really should do this!’ So I sewed a few aprons and set up online. Within a month, the first apron sold and it was go-go-go from then on. I have never had to advertise and the aprons keep selling.”
The aprons were so popular that Reta was able to quit her job in fall of 2015 and now sews full-time, selling her designs online, at conventions, and at the mall during Christmas. Her vast collection of aprons includes designs inspired by Pokémon, Harley Quinn, Doctor Who, Sailor Moon, Adventure Time, and The Legend of Zelda.
“I enjoy the designing so much; making the patterns and putting it all together,” says Reta. “Its an incredible feeling when you pour your heart and soul into a piece of art and others actually love it too! I could stay home and just sew for online orders but I love going out to the comic con/anime conventions. I love the atmosphere. The people are amazing.”
While she mainly sells the aprons in person in western Canada, the aprons themselves have made their way around the world. Reta keeps a map on her wall so she can pin each country her aprons are sold in—the map currently has pins in North America, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France, Australia, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and Iceland.
Her Deadpool apron has a particular claim to fame—when Rotten Tomatoes’ Grae Drake interviewed Ryan Reynolds in February 2016 prior to the release of Deadpool, she wore Rita’s apron. Watch the video, “Deadpool meets ‘Maidpool!’” below.
While she has looked into making dresses, Reta states that she’s quite happy remaining with aprons.
“What I love about my aprons is that they can fit anyone,” says Reta. “I have developed my own design and look during the last two years—I like it simple, clean, cute, and very well made. Most of the designs are from things I enjoy in my own life, [such as] video games, movies, and TV shows. However, I do keep a close eye on the internet to see what is popular.”
Prices for aprons range depending on where you buy them—online, they go for $120 CAD ($125 if you order a custom apron), and at conventions they’re sold for $80 CAD. The aprons bought online are made to order based on your size, whereas the aprons sold at cons are one size fits all.
Out of all the designs, though, which one is Reta’s favourite?
“My favourite design is the Majora’s Mask apron,” she says. “It took a long time to figure out all the intricate and complicated pieces needed to complete the image. The idea to make it came from my love of Link/Zelda video games and I was sure no one had ever made him into an apron before.”