by nathan oster
Like much of the country, Dave and Carol Fairbanks were caught up in the hype of the release of the new “Star Wars” movie. As of Tuesday, they’d seen the blockbuster three times, most recently at Big Horn Cinemas in Cody.
But they aren’t just your run-of-the-mill “Star Wars” fans.
Their love of fictional characters runs deep seven days a week, 365 days a year — not just before and after new movies hit the big screen — and it was what prompted them to start a new business, Carol’s Custom Costumes, a couple years ago in Utah.
“It was my kids who had the idea,” said Carol. “They said, ‘Mom, you’re really good at making costumes. We should turn it into a business.’ I said, ‘I’m game if you guys are.’ That’s how it all started.”
A native of Indiana, Carol had been a stay-at-home mom up until that point.
Dave is an ER doctor by occupation, but every bit his wife’s equal as a “Star Wars” fan.
A little more than a year ago, they bought a place outside Shell.
With their kids fully grown and through college, Dave and Carol decided they wanted to spend more time together. And with Dave up here much of the time, Carol opted to relocate her business.
In November, she set up shop in the former Western Floral building on the west end of Greybull Avenue. Sisters Serena Lipp and Melanie Stockert, whose family owns the building which also includes the fitness center next door, were instrumental in making it happen.
Carol explained that she got her start making costumes when her children were in school and in plays, but that her hobby didn’t really take off until she attended her first “Star Wars” convention, known as “Celebration 4.” That was 15 years ago.
She’s been making costumes for people ever since. At first, it was just her family who sought out her talents. Now she has clientele all over the world, who use her website and Facebook sites to converse about costume ideas and place orders.
She doesn’t limit her business to “Star Wars,” either. Right now she’s working on a “John Snow” cloak, based on the fictional character from the HBO series, “Game of Thrones” and has done many costumes for Comic-Con gatherings all around the world.
A recent visitor to her store in Greybull had an interest in lining up a costume for a Civil War re-enactment. The customer said he wanted a Nathan Bedford Forrest costume. Dave, a Civil War buff in his own right, asked him which one. “His eyes got so big,” laughed Dave, proceeding to rattle off styles and accessories. “He didn’t realize there were that many costume options.”
Carol said she’s busiest right before Comic-Con, Halloween and “big premieres” such as the new “Star Wars” movie. Those fans you may have seen lined up outside of theaters around the country, waiting to buy tickets to the first showings? Some of them might have been wearing costumes made right here in Carol’s shop.
“We do it because it’s something we love,” said Carol. “And our kids are right there with us. My daughter-in-law is a designer. My daughter is a designer. My son works in leather. And Dave … people say he looks and sounds like Jeff Bridges … he gets into it too.”
Carol said she doesn’t know where he business is heading — “To infinity and beyond,” quips her husband, who is standing nearby — but that she’ll keep doing it until she no longer enjoys the process.