Reagan Kathryn moved to Los Angeles specifically to pursue a career in cosplay. But what is a cosplay career? Well, if you're Kathryn, it includes designing cosplays, appearing at conventions, streaming in cosplay, making cosplay tutorials, and swimming in a pool dressed as a mermaid.
Originally from Las Vegas, Kathryn moved home after graduating from a college in Louisiana. When her father asked her what she wanted to do, she realized she wasn't too sure. But after a friend invited her to a convention in Los Angeles, Kathryn knew that she wanted to dress up in cosplay for a living.
What was your first cosplay for that convention?
I did Star Wars x Disney's Rapunzel. My friends said that it made no sense, don't do it. But I thought it was cute. I had a little BB8 painted green like Pascal. My mom and I painted flowers on the shirt. I went and felt it was amazing. I met so many fun people. This is what I want to do.
I started thinking, "How do you make a living this way?" I had no idea at the time but I wanted to find out. Luckily my parents were very supportive. Where do you live to do it? All the big conventions are in CA so I figured I would move there. They were basically like, "Alright, have fun!"
I worked at a company called Once Upon An Island, which hosted princess and mermaid parties. I was a mermaid in the Real Housewives' pool. They were like, "You don't even have to talk to the kids. Just swim there!"
I started making costumes and it took off from there.
What made you passionate about cosplay after that first experience?
Everyone has different ways of showing their love for a fandom. They buy all the comic books. The figures. They make art. I could never draw and I wasn't too interested in collecting at the time. Cosplay was a great way to share what fandoms I loved. And to also express myself kind of creatively.
I just really clicked with it. I put on that costume and I felt super confident for the first time. I felt so excited. I loved being in a setting where everyone loved it and also talk to people about what they love, anime, Disney... Cosplay was a perfect storm of everything that I love coming together.
What are your fandoms?
I'm a big anime fan. I'm a big weeb at heart. I used to wear the Tsunade necklace from Naruto in high school. I wouldn't take it off. It was so cheap. But I even wore it while showering so it was discoloring and turning my skin green. It was so bad but I was like, "No, it's the Tsunade necklace, mom, I'm not taking it off!" I love Disney, comic books... I would not be a good critic. Because I'm so easy to please. It's almost a problem.
I noticed a lot of One Piece cosplays!
My boyfriend is Rogers Base. I started One Piece when I started dating him a couple of years ago. That's one I had not watched before. It came on after Naruto but I was upset Naruto ended and then this weirdly drawn anime would come on...
But when I started dating him my friends said I'd start... I was so wrong. It's such a bomb anime. It's so good. I quickly fell in love with it. I've read all the chapters. We own every single volume that's been published. I really put my foot in my mouth there!
What made you decide to cosplay as Nico Robin?
The first one I did was Nami. She's one of the first Strawhats introduced. I felt it was fun. I liked her. But as I kept watching I met Robin. At first, she had a cowboy hat on and I'm from the south so I didn't really like that. But her time skip outfit...
Robin is always up there in the top 10. She's just so cool. Her backstory makes you cry. I just loved her. I felt there was no way I could cosplay her because she had black hair. I have red hair and I normally did blonde, redheads.
It was before I knew about makeup or knowing how to do my eyebrows. But I love her so much I wanted to learn how to do it. The first time I did it I couldn't get my eyelashes right. I had two on one eye. It looked horrible. It took me two hours. But it was one of those things...
I just felt so confident when I put on the costume. I always know that she's a safety costume for conventions. I can feel great and good about myself when it's on. She's hands down one of my favorite costumes. I made a whole tutorial about how to make Robin's costume.
Why did you feel so confident while cosplaying Nico Robin?
I just saw myself and felt beautiful. I felt I looked great. I look like this character I love. I have a deep connection to the character. I feel so empowered by it.
I was so proud of it when I made it. It looks simple but it was actually pretty technical. It was the first complex one I made by myself. It was this pride for the work I'd done. And seeing myself as a way I never thought I'd see myself.
Do you make all your own cosplays?
I make all my own and also make video tutorials to help others make costumes. I do ones on specific props or techniques. The best advice I ever heard was from my friend. We always get asked how to start. What skills do you need? She said, "The most important skill is being able to Google well."
It seems silly but it's really true. Being able to Google what type of hat someone is wearing. Or being able to Google how to make LEDs. It's such a huge skill. So many times I sit there and wonder what this hat is called. Then I'll find a tutorial on how this specific hat is made.
My expertise lies in sewing. I've been practicing for over five years now. I make all my own patterns. Everything you see me wear, I made the pattern myself. I had a ton of help from my friend, an expert seamstress. I like to think of myself as a jack of all trades but master of none. Throw something at me and I'll figure out how to make it work.
What's fun about cosplay is you're always learning and improving. It's so cool to see how much you've improved. You always learn new techniques and skills. I put on a costume I made in 2018 and was excited because I knew if I remade it there would be so many new techniques. Seeing yourself grow is always really fun. People are afraid to start cosplaying because they won't be the best... But that's a silly thing to strive for. Just be the best you can be and make each costume a little bit better than the last.
What's one cosplay you're really proud of?
Edelgard, the full armor one!
I'm very good at sewing. Give me anything? I can sew it. I can sew it in a day! I'm fast, I got it, I can do it. But armor was always very tricky for me. My friends always teased me because they say I cut like a second-grader. I can't cut a straight line to save my life, which makes armor a bit harder. Sanding is my best friend.
But I was playing Fire Emblem, my favorite game of all time. Three Houses came out. I was super excited. I put 700 hours into it. I love it so much. I played through Edelgard's route last because I love Rhea. But when I played with Edelgard, I saw this armor in her alt skins during a battle. And it was beautiful. I thought, "I have to make this." Armored skirt, armored bodice, horns in her hair... So much armor. But I must make it. I have to do it.
How long did it take you?
It took me about two weeks.
That's still so fast!
When I get really hyper-focused on something I can't do anything else until I'm done with it. I was working on it all day every day for those two weeks. "I gotta be Edelguard!"
It was one of the hardest things I've ever done because it was so out of my skillset. But I'm so proud of it. It came out really well. Even now, there are things I'd do differently because I did it last year. But I just love her. I learned so many new skills and so many new machines, like 3D printers.
What do you do for cosplaying now that there have been no conventions?
The lack of conventions was a big hit. I love to make costumes and share them with people. To make up for that is I've started streaming. It's been so nice. It's a great way to have conversations with people and not feel so alone. I would work on costumes while streaming. Painting armor and showing people my whole process and talking to people...
That's my favorite part of streaming. I love being able to answer questions live. People give me tips that I didn't think of. The community aspect of it has been my main way... If it's from a game, I'll wear it and do a fun photoshoot or play the game.
What is your goal for when conventions return?
I haven't even thought of that. It seems so far off. I keep getting messages but I don't feel comfortable going in public yet. But I know that I'm really excited about the day that we can. I'm gonna be stoked and I'll be going everywhere. It will always be a yes from me. I'll be there! Tuesday at 2 a.m.? Let's go! I just can't wait.
I am excited to be around people who have the same energy and excitement about things as some. But until then, I'm gonna keep making cool costumes and teams and YouTube videos and try not to be sad that it's not tomorrow.
What cosplays are you working on for conventions?
The one I'm working on right now... Well, I'm working on a couple. One Piece's Yamato. I'm working on them. I'm really excited about making them. I'm really stoked. I'm also working on Morrighan from an MMORPG called Mabinoge. She's the goddess of war and has huge wings. I'm working on that one on stream right now. I'm excited about those two in particular.
Tell me a bit about the Scarlet Witch cosplay you recently created!
Her and Lillith go together in a funny way. Two Anime Expos ago I made Lillith. I have a tutorial on how to make the wings. But when Wanda Vision came out... I always wanted to do Scarlet Witch. Her story in X-Men is awesome. This was the perfect opportunity to be the Scarlet Witch. This is the time.
So Scarlet Witch is actually the Lillith suit. The same corset. I photoshopped out the diamond. I went to my friend's house to take photos but I forgot the cape. I dug through her fabric and had to sew it all together into a cape 20 minutes before we shot this. I made the cape in literally 20 minutes. I made the headpiece the day before. I have a tutorial on that as well. It was just a hodgepodge of stuff coming together.
What do you like about the cosplay community?
I recently created my own Discord and it's so much fun. They're all so nice. They introduce me to fandoms I never would have thought about or known otherwise. We talk about our days and what's going on in our lives. It's great to feel connected to other people and get excited about things together. The big thing is they keep making memes and GIFs of my dog. I have so many GIFs of my dog now, which is great.
It's that comradery. We all like the same thing and we just talk about it! You feel like you've been best friends even when you just met them.
Do you have any advice for new cosplayers?
One of the panels I do, whenever I go to conventions, is "Cosplay and Confidence." Cosplay can be scary. It can be really scary. You're putting yourself out there. You're wearing your favorite character. It can be scary.
My biggest thing I tell people is just to do it afraid. I wanted to do it in high school. One of my friends came to school in a full Ariel outfit. But I was terrified. I'm not going to look good. I don't know where to start. People will laugh at me. So I waited... All through high school. All through college. I didn't have the courage to do it.
I look back and think, "Man. I wish I started earlier. It's the best and I love it so much."
Even if you don't think you'll be the best, just do it afraid. It's so worth it. It's so amazing. Just know that everyone is just as afraid as you. Don't be afraid to tell someone they look good. If you see a cosplay you like, tell them what you love. Maybe they needed to hear it. It's totally worth it. We're all here for you and we hope that you cosplay with us.
Esports writer and editor with a passion for creating unique content for the gaming community.