Lindsey Calvert hasn’t always been a natural at sewing. She thinks back to her first project – an apron she made in home economics class many years ago – and laughs about what a disaster it was.
Her sewing skills have improved tremendously since then – so much so that she has been able to build a career on them.
Calvert is the owner and founder of Lizard Loves Mustache Costumes, LLC, a company that specializes in creating custom fur character costumes. In the past 10 years, she has created characters based on everything from a rhinoceros to a dragon-ferret hybrid and shipped them across the world.
Most of Calvert’s customers (located around the world) have already designed their own personas. They commission Calvert to turn their ideas into a real-life character.
“Everything from the head to the feet is hand-carved,” Calvert said. “A lot of work goes into it, but it’s a huge labor of love. I’m pulling at least 12 to 14 hour days, but I really can’t see myself doing anything other than this.”
Calvert said she especially loves that her costumes have helped people feel more confident and find new parts of their identity. She treasures the emails she has received from customers thanking her for helping them come out of their shell.
“I’m doing what I love and it’s absolutely beautiful,” she said. “I’ve met so many wonderful people through this community.”
One customer, in particular, has been unforgettable for Calvert: A teenager named Teáh from Kansas City. Teáh was born with a heart condition and wasn’t expected to survive past 30 days. But 16 years (and several heart surgeries) later, Teáh was granted a wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. She wanted a custom fursuit of her persona, the “Key Lime Canine,” so she could spread cheer to children in hospitals and raise awareness for organ donations at community events.
“It was so wholesome and rewarding,” Calvert said, recalling how she surprised Teáh with her own fursuit last year.
Calvert hopes to expand her business in the future and add to her team. She recently moved into a new studio space and is busy keeping up with a long queue of characters (which currently includes a jackal, a domestic cat, a bat, a horse, a husky, a fox and many more).
“I can’t imagine anyone else in the area does anything quite like this,” she said, gesturing to the hippie coyote head sitting in a bin next to her. “I think this is bringing something fun to the community. My costumes have made people smile, which makes me smile.”
Lizard Loves Mustache Costumes
Lindsey Calvert studied media arts animation in school, so character design has always been an interest of hers. Through Lizard Loves Mustache Costumes, Calvert takes sketches of anthropomorphic animals and turns them into furry costumes.
The process, which can take anywhere from two weeks to a month to complete, involves carving the head, hands and feet out of foam and then sewing the fur and other material together to bring the character to life.
Lizard Loves Mustache fursuit heads start at $850 and full costumes start at $3,000.
“I can’t imagine anyone else in the area does anything quite like this. I think this is bringing something fun to the community. My costumes have made people smile, which makes me smile.”