Photo Credit: Blonde Swan.com

Steve Pack and his lovely wife Rosanna have been apart of the Renaissance, Medieval and Fantasy community for the past  twenty years. When they’re not designing steampunk and period adventure gear they’re attending various Renaissance Festivals and conventions  to sell their decadent corsets and accessories. I had the pleasure of meeting the charming couple at the Origins gaming convention in Columbus Ohio  last year and witnessed just how incredibly passionate and hard working the pair truly are. It was inspiring to see how two people that live and breathe this community have turned their life long passion into a full time business (ad)venture.

Steve and Rosanna are dedicated to providing hand picked, quality products and always go above and beyond to find the right fit for their customers. I thought I would take the opportunity to share some of Steve’s insights on being an entrepreneur and touch on some of his inspirations to begin his steamy side business, Got Steam.com

When did your love of all things steampunk first become apparent?

I was a devotee of Steampunk before the term was officially coined! I loved H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. I loved the look and feel of Disneys 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.  When the movement emerged about 6-7 years ago I was delighted because it gave the movement a short, concise term you could call it.  Saying “I’m into a retro science fiction /alternate historical movement centered on the Victorian era” doesn’t really roll off the tongue. “I’m into Steampunk”  does, and if someone asks what it is, well then you can go from there. It’s entering the public consciousness now, and I think that’s a good thing.

What does a day on the job entail?

Being a self-employed corsetierre and steampunk enthusiast sounds like the life of Reilly. Alas, my day involves a lot of mundane activities. Emails, processing online orders, paying bills and ordering supplies. For conventions, there is a lot of heavy lifting, loading, and unloading. And driving. Lots of driving. I listen to lots of books on tape. But when the mundane work is done, then comes the fun. I have a workshop and any time of the day or night I can go in and work not only on making stock, but on new projects. WhenI rented my first apartment years ago, I didn’t have any space to work and few tools. When I bought our current home I finally had a dedicated work space, something I had wanted for years. In fact I lend my workshop out to others now. It’s been used to make a mobile shower trailer for SCA events, a ballista, some flat pack chairs, numerous car repairs, and other projects.

What inspires your custom work?

I get inspiration from many sources. The online steampunk community is vast and filled with talented people. Sites like Brass Goggles, Steampunk Fashion, and Deviant Art are great resources.

When did you decide that you would turn your love for the steampunk aesthetic into a full time business venture?

My employment history has been an odd one. I’ve been a window washer, a sign maker, a puppeteer, a touring Shakespearean actor for schools, a technical writer for a wheelchair company, and a Butler. My last real “job” was as an website content creator for a large electronic components company. All throughout my youth I loved medieval history and the fantasy genre. That eventually let me to a career as a performer in a troupe called The Magnificent Sloan Gypsies as a fire eater and juggler. We worked Renaissance Festival for several years. It was at one show that a leather mug maker caught the act and thought my wife and I would make good salespeople. In time, we worked as hired guns for several talented artists. We sold hand forged swords, high end men’s costumes, and eventually…corsets. We eventually formed our own company and partnered with a great corset maker from Pennsylvania. We opened shops at ren Faires in Ohio, Michigan, and Virginia. This was in addition to the many Sci-Fi cons around the country. About 10 years ago I left my company job to do what I love full time.

What is the fondest memory or opportunity acquired through your line of work?

Doing what I do has given me so many incredible opportunities over the years. Travel is one of my passions and over the past 20 years or so my wife and I have been all over the globe. Morrocco, England, Scotland, France, Germany, Turkey, Egypt, The Czech Republic, Jordan, and more.

Can you offer any tips on how to create an authentic steampunk look on a budget?

The wonderful thing about Steampunk is you don’t need to spend a lot of money to achieve a great look. Goodwill is your friend. So is eBay. Army surplus stores are often a treasure trove. I have seen some amazing outfits put together with almost no cash outlay. My advice is that you may not find what you need at your local store. You need to get out and explore. Check out antique shops and flea markets. No one should be dissuaded from Steampunk because they are a struggling college student or are short on funds. As far as tools are concerned a few basic leather working tools and a hot glue gun are invaluable.

Are there any special passion projects we can expect in 2012?

2012 will see us developing some very cool new steampunk products. I really can’t say too much. I don’t want spoil the surprise. My wife has been producing some amazing custom womens outfits. Each one is more amazing than the last. I have to force myself to take pictures because as soon as they are displayed at a show, they sell!

Are there any other steampunk artists that you would like to collaborate with in the future? 

I don’t know about collaborating directly with other artists on a finished product. But people in the SP community are constantly involved in exchanging ideas, swapping tricks and techniques, and bouncing ideas off each other.

What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs? 

As far as advice is concerned, I know this won’t be popular, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking the only way you will ever find a good or satisfying job is by going to college for years and running up a huge debt that will hang around your neck like a millstone. Consider taking a different path.  Don’t be afraid to try ANYTHING. There was a time when learning a special skill or finding like-minded people was very hard. But thanks to the internet you can learn just about ANY skill. Have a question? No problem, there are thousands of people out there willing to freely share their knowledge.  Want to find left-handed-furry-steampunk enthusiasts? They are out there.

 What direction would you like to take see your company take in the future?

Unlike some, I have no desire to be a big company. The bigger the company, the more headaches and the more time it takes away from enjoying life, which is a finite commodity.

If you want to learn more about the steampunk community and its wonderful artists, check out my interview with Kato of Steampunk Couture and Daniel Proulx of Catherinette Rings. Want more steampunk artisans? Be sure to check out my share the love company spotlights on The Blonde Swan and Aranwen Jewelry!

 

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