By Max Sullivan
It was sixteen years ago that Liz Perlman opened Costume Works, Inc., on Alston St. in Somerville. Back in 1996, it was just a small space she held. Today, her space has grown, her team of professional costume makers has become a force and her client list has become quite impressive.
Perlman is quite satisfied with what she’s accomplished.
“I’m kind of happy with it where it is,” Perlman said of her business. “I don’t really have a big next step. We have a lot of work right now and I’m just happy to keep running with it.”
Perlman started the business to pay for daycare for her two children, who today are college and high school students. Perlman, who had been in the business for over a decade, already had a small list of clients, about six or seven, allowing her to get the business started. According to Perlman, she was one of the lucky few who are handed that type of list early on.
Things picked up for Perlman’s business in 1997, when she got a deal with a big time client: Disney. The franchise was launching its first cruise ship at the time, and there were plans for the cruise to feature major, Broadway scale shows on board. The woman in charge of costumes was based at Boston University. Naturally, she wanted supervision of the work being done and kept her work in Boston, where she could keep track of it. Perlman got the call, and it became a stepping-stone into a new level of clientele.
Perlman was elated when she got her first client out of Disney.
“I was excited,” Perlman said. “The timing was fortuitous, and the Disney deal turned into a great deal of work, because as they were launching their whole thing, they had a large scope of work to do.”
From Disney, Perlman gained ten different clients. Along with the cruises, her costumes can be found all over Disney World, from Epcot’s various exhibitions to major play productions all over the park. While the well known Mickey Mouse type costumes are put together in-house, many of the costumes for supporting or chorus type roles are crafted right in Perlman’s Somerville shop.
Tony Lafuente, a member of Somerville’s Board of Aldermen and who runs a flag and banner production business in the same building as Perlman’s business, has a strong working relationship with her. He has watched her grow ever since she moved into his building in 1996, and since then their friendship and his appreciation for what she does has blossomed.
“We kind of compliment one another,” Lafuente said. “Because we do a lot of commercial graphics for very high end customers, and then she, Liz, does the costumes for very high end customers as well, so we compliment one another and we often try and help each other with projects.”
“Extremely, extremely talented group of professional women who make these very high end costumes,” Lafuente added. “There’s literally nothing they can’t do. It’s amazing.”
To contact Perlman, visit the shop at 36 Alston St., Somerville, MA, or call (617) 623-7510. www.costumeworksinc.com