14 April 2023

Tania is building one big dress-up box for Wagga

| Chris Roe
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Tania McLean is helping Wagga get on the front foot with dress-up events. Photo: Chris Roe.

As both a teacher and a mum, Tania McLean knows only too well the panic parents experience when the dreaded note arrives home announcing that their child is going to need an awesome costume ASAP!

Some parents love it, but if the annual outcry on social media chat groups is anything to go by, it can be a stressful time for many.

“Being around schools I know that there’s always the Year 5 trip or a trip to Sovereign Hill that might include a dress-up day at school and then of course you have Book Week,” she said.

“I’m always aware of dress-up situations where parents can get into a tizz trying to organise something at the last minute.”

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Which is exactly why Tania decided to launch her new side hustle, Costume Capers Wagga Wagga, earlier this year.

“There used to be dress-up places in town back when dressing up for parties was a big thing but there’s not a place really that hires costumes anymore,” she explained.

“Over the Christmas period, we were doing a road trip up to Queensland and I saw all these dress-up places and costume hire places, and I thought, if they survive in other places, why can’t it work in Wagga?

“I’m very aware that you can pick up costumes downtown easily enough, but I like the sustainable side of hiring costumes and not just wearing things once and then throwing them away.

“It’s like that old idea of having a dress-up box where you can mix and match and wear things over again.”

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Tania’s road trip daydream quickly turned to “research” and all of a sudden, she was planning a business.

“I’m an ideas girl, and I loved dressing up, so before I even knew it, I went from this idea to then buying some costumes,” she said with a laugh.

“My husband said, ‘What are you doing?” and I was like, ‘No, I’m doing this, this will be my little side business’.”


Tania is steadily expanding her costume offerings. Photo: Supplied.

To help with the practicalities, hubby Russel, a cabinet maker, knocked up a purpose-built storage unit in the garage, and with a little pop-up changeroom they were off and running.

Packages soon began arriving regularly on the doorstep. Tania was trawling op shops for interesting accoutrements and the family was enlisted to model the costumes.

“I’m collecting things and building up the collection and just getting the word out,” Tania said.

Costume Capers caters to party-going adults and kids alike and Tania explained that the aim was to steadily expand the collection and the range of sizes.

“The adult costumes can be quite expensive if you were to purchase and they’re also not typically unique,” she explained.

“You might find something for a theme party but five other people might turn up in the same outfit!”

With interest slowly beginning to build, Tania hopes to engage a creative community and offer a fun, sustainable option for themed parties and school events.

“I’ve had friends in Sydney looking out for things and I’m on online marketplaces and stuff like that. I’m always just scrolling, looking,” she said.

“I’m not necessarily looking for new things but I’m looking at that whole idea of recycling things if they appear to be in good condition.”

You can find Costume Capers Wagga Wagga here.

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