Interview: Caped and Masked

Welcome to October on Goddess Directory - a month full of celebrating our favorite spooky, scary, and (let's be honest) cute shops that embody the spirit of shopping small for Halloween instead of shopping at Spirit Halloween. Well, we do love a good Spirit Halloween, but not as much as we love supporting creative entrepreneurs and the business they put their blood, sweat, and tears into - vampire or otherwise. All month long we'll be featuring shops and makers who sell Halloween themed items, and don't forget to check out the ever-growing directory of Halloween shops here. I'd also urge you to scroll through the comments on this Instagram post to find many, many more.

Every time I've talked to someone for Goddess Directory in the last 6 months, I've made it a point to ask about how COVID has effected their business. The answers have varied, but overall, it's been tough for a lot of small businesses. We all know this past year has taken a toll on all of us, so today, I'm so pleased to share a business with a *positive* story coming out of this crazy time. Jeanette Converse started Caped and Masked just earlier this year, and for her, being in lockdown was the perfect motivation to start her brand. Caped and Masked, as you might expect from the name, sells adorable handmade face masks, but the shop also sells upcycled goodies, vintage gems, and many more accessories. Jeanette has a love for all things spoopy, and her current Halloween collection of masks and vintage sweaters is perfect for celebrating the holiday in quarantine.

My pick: I just how perfectly extra the bow tie masks are! If we have to wear masks (and we do!), might as well do it in style.

Q: Let’s start from the beginning. Can you tell me a little bit about the process of starting your business? What made you want to do this and how did you turn your idea into a reality?

A: First off thank you so much for featuring my lil shop, I am so honored. I guess it all started when I was a kid, I would make my Barbie’s clothes out of old socks and craft supplies. And I’ve been designing ever since. I studied Fashion/ Costume design in college, and have worked in almost every area in the fashion industry here in NYC. I started selling handmade items through Etsy about 8 years ago. My top sellers were my hand painted leather jackets. Most of them had bunnies on them lol. Elle Fanning even bought one! Now I work as a Stylist by day, and run my shop Caped And Masked whenever I have a spare moment. I started Caped And Masked after the world went into lockdown because I had been wanting to take the leap of creating my own store, and I figured everything was already so crazy, I had nothing to lose! So I taught myself Shopify, Procreate, and started making masks. We are still pretty new, but we had a strong start, and have been gaining momentum ever since. We are almost sold out of our current Halloween collection.

Q: Was there a moment when you felt like this was something that was going to take off and become a success for you?

A: There has been a lot of those moments but I have learned that success comes in waves. The trick is to not get discouraged and just keep working at it. I did a pop up once that was so successful there was a line in front of my table before I even had my table set up. I sold out before the event even ended, it was incredible. But shortly after that Instagram changed their algorithm, and I stopped getting any sales for a while. I did a couple of pop ups after that and hardly anyone came. It was awful. I was like is this it? Is my career over? But like I said, it comes in waves. I kept making pieces, kept moving forward, and eventually people started buying things again. I’m sure Caped And Masked will experience hard times in the future too but it makes me happy to create art, so I will never stop making it even if no one’s interested.

Q: What were your friends and family’s reactions to you starting this as a career or a business? Were you nervous to share it?

A: I am always nervous before presenting new art to people. I’m pretty sure I asked my husband several times “what if no one buys anything?!” But so far the response has been nothing but positive. We sell a lot of handmade face masks, and I think people are so happy to find comfortable face masks in fun designs. I know I am!

Q: So many of your items are perfect for the Halloween season! What made you decide to make spooky themed items?

A: I have always been obsessed with Halloween! A few years back I did an entire fashion show featuring outfits I made that were inspired by my two favorite things Halloween and Valentines Day. It was called “My Spoopy Valentine.” And I’ve done several Halloween collections since. So of course Caped And Masked would have a spoopy collection. I was super inspired this year to share my collection of vintage Halloween sweaters that I have been curating for years, as well as spoopy face masks. And I created my first matching caplet and mask set. I am hoping to make more of those in fun patterns and designs.

Q: Obviously, we’re in strange times right now so I have to ask everyone I talk to - how has COVID-19 affected your business and what are you doing to keep everything going during this time? What can people do to support you and others during all of this?

A: Well like I said, I actually started my business because of COVID-19. It gave me the courage to go after my dreams because life is short. And we are selling well made, comfortable face masks in super fun designs, so we are helping to reduce the spread of germs. Which makes me feel good, and has helped to launch my new shop. When you buy from Caped And Masked, you are getting handmade art and helping me provide for my family during a tough time. We have also donated to several different charities from each drop, and plan to do some donation based giveaways soon!

Q: What do you wish more people knew about small businesses?

A: Most of my customers are pretty understanding and patient, but I think most small business owners would love to make people understand that it is usually only one person hand making all the stuff, shooting it, pricing it, packing up orders etc. This takes a lot of time and hard work. And we also need to have time to work our day jobs, or take care of our families too. So if you are willing to be patient, you will get incredible handmade art, packaged up by an actual human with a handwritten thank you note attached. Trust me it is worth the wait!

Q: Favorite item in your shop currently?

A: My favorite right now is our pink Halloween face mask! I spent a lot of time drawing this print (it is pink, with a purple jack o lantern face), getting the fabric made, and then hand making each mask with love.

Q: What goals do you have for your business going forward?

A: If we ever get to interact with each other again, I would love to do more pop ups! It’s so fun to get to know your customers and to see how each piece makes them so happy. I would also like to make more capelet and mask sets! We have a bunch of fun pieces coming up that I am working on, I can’t wait to show you!

Q: Important question: favorite Halloween candy?

A: Candy corn no question! I know some people hate it, but I can’t get enough lol.

Q: Lastly, let’s spread the love. What are a few of your favorite small shops owned by women that you personally shop from?

A: Oh my goodness there are seriously too many! I always try to shop small, and I especially love things that are handmade or one of a kind. My favorites are Macy Daisy, The Beheaded, Creepyyeha, Room Shop Vintage, Cupcakebat, Tlabel, Beacon’s Closet, Discount Universe, Susan Alexandra, Femme de Bloom, and Lively Ghosts.

Follow along with Jeanette:

Shop Caped and Masked

Follow Caped and Masked on Instagram

Like Jeanette on Instagram


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