Ever wanted to wear a pair of lekku just for the fun of it? Cosplay For Jedi has got you covered. From the adorable Ewoks to the fabulous Twi’leks, Star Wars fangirl Alison Berrios designs and constructs cosplay hats and hoods inspired by our favorite Star Wars species and characters. I recently purchased my own pair of green lekku and the quality and ingenuity blew me away. With 5-star ratings across the board, Alison knows her craft and how to please her fellow Star Wars fans.
I approached Alison for an interview to talk more about Cosplay For Jedi and her enthusiasm and pure awesome simply radiates off the page.
Tell us about Cosplay For Jedi. How did your business come about?
When I decided to start this adventure, I had just left PalmCon 2012 as an attendee. It was PalmCon’s second year, and the first comic convention to come to our area. I saw all of these amazing artists doing what they loved and creating such beautiful works of art. I had been in a rut for a while at that point; I was depressed and barely left the house. I have always loved cosplay and crafts, but I never really pushed myself to do anything with it. I signed up for PalmCon on a total whim and committed to showcasing some fun and playful Star Wars inspired hats in 2013. I bought my first sewing machine and took a night class at the local middle school to learn the basics. I finally felt like I was freeing myself from my day-to-day do-nothing routine. It’s been great ever since!
When and how did you become a Star Wars fangirl?
When I was little, there was this movie rental spot near my house growing up. It was 50 cents to rent a movie and I would always, always want Ewoks: The Battle For Endor. Cindel was totally my homegirl and I was so enchanted every time I watched it. By the time Episode II came out, I was full-on dressing up for the midnight premieres! I had finally found the fanbase that encouraged me to go all out and I felt liberated! When Caleb was about 4 years old, my husband bought him LEGO Star Wars for a PS2 and he got hooked! The next time we went to Hollywood Studios, he heard the Stormtroopers on the Jedi Training stage and literally unbuckled himself from his stroller screaming “STORMTROOPERS! STORMTROOPERS!” and took off, bolting into this HUGE crowd. I had to go sprinting after him. That’s when I knew this would always be our thing and that we were officially a Star Wars family.
You construct lekku hats, hoods, and other various items. What motivated you and inspired you to create such intricate pieces and share those crafts with the rest of the fan community?
The hat idea was inspired by Caleb (my Padawan, age 8). He would put anything he could on his head and run around the house transformed by his improvised hat. I was also super irritated that the only character helmets or hats at the stores were from male characters, so I decided to start with Aayla Secura. I also started on Ewoks, since I love them and my son was obsessed. (During Caleb’s first viewing of Return of the Jedi, we spent 15 minutes cuddling and talking about feelings when Nanta dies.)
On average, how long does it take you to make a pair of lekku? Take us through the process.
Making the lekku takes a few hours. It’s finding the time to do it that’s a challenge. I work at Publix and I’m usually so tired by the time I get home (I work the 5am shift), I can barely keep my eyelids open. Basically, I will do everything over the span of a few days: iron the fabric, cut the pattern, sew the lekku, stuff the lekku, add elastic, and sew it all up. Then, I do the same thing for the headband. I love thinking of new band designs or lekku patterns. Suu Lawquane’s lekku markings are amazing. I have been making some similar. They are a labor of love, and I always try them on to make sure they fit well and look rockin’. Sometimes, when I like it so much, I make a note to make one for myself as well. I just had someone custom order a 3-foot long lekku (he is a tall person!), so I am super excited to make those and see how they look!
What has been your favorite experience while wearing a pair of your lekku or other merchandise?
Honestly, it was at Star Wars Weekends 2014. I got so much positive feedback, it was super encouraging. Also, Vanessa Marshall taking a selfie with me while I wore my Hera lekku and posting it on her Twitter. That was a huge fangirl flail moment when that popped up on my feed. I had the stupidest grin on my face for the rest of the day. My face actually hurt. I had to take pain killers before we went to sleep that night. (No joke, I had to take them for the headache, but it was so worth it!)
What’s a favorite cosplay you’ve done and are there other characters you’d like to cosplay in the future?
Barriss Offee is my favorite, so far! I am planning on becoming a Jawa one day, and I have a very far away goal of building Asajj Ventress’ bounty hunter armor. I have been working on a secret costume for Rebel Legion approval. I haven’t told anyone until now, but everyone will have to wait and see! (Hint: It’s a Clone Wars character and it isn’t a Jedi.)
You have an amazing collection of tattoos and there’s a tradition behind the ones you’ve gotten recently at Star Wars Weekends. Can you tell us more about that tradition and if you plan to get another tattoo inspired by a Star Wars character?
I have a lot of tattoos! I started young and some are not so awesome, but I figured since I have so many, I may as well keep going, right? Ventress was one of my favorite Clone Wars characters and I wanted a tattoo of her, but every time I tried to choose the right image of her, I just could not decide which one to get. Later on, Disney announced the celebrity lineup for Star Wars Weekends 2012 and Nikka Futterman was going to be there–Ventress herself! I came up with the idea to put all of the pressure on her and have her pick which tattoo a total stranger would get inked on her body forever, since she knows how to bring the character to life. She was so nervous, but she did it! When she picked it out, she did it in Ventress’ voice. I was trying so hard to play it cool, but I did a mini flail because I was too excited.
The next year, I decided that it was Ashley Eckstein’s turn. I knew what Ahsoka stance I wanted, but I also wanted her autograph on the bottom of the tattoo, so I told her the purpose of the signature and she said, “I don’t ever think I’ve done such a perfect autograph before.” I still haven’t gotten that one tattooed yet, since I’m trying to find the perfect artist, the time to get the tattoo, and the time for it to heal properly. The plan is to do all my favorite characters on the left leg and somehow have each of the actors who bring that character to life put a personal touch on it.
How do you feel about the lack of merchandise for characters like Leia, Sabine, and especially Hera?
Honestly, I just do NOT get it. Seriously, Leia is a MAIN CHARACTER from the original trilogy. She wasn’t a damsel in distress. She wasn’t there for sex appeal. She was a leader and a really good one! Sabine defeats those troopers on a regular basis and Hera is the CAPTAIN of the Ghost, so how could they not get more merchandise, especially Hera? I found two cups, a small tattoo in my son’s Valentine’s card box, and one fabric that includes Hera. There is one LEGO figure and one action figure. I would seriously buy every piece of Hera merchandise for myself and my son, but there’s really nothing out there. She is an excellent role model for children! I think anyone would be hard-pressed to find a better character for children to aspire in a current animated show (or any show, period), and that should be a good thing and it should be embraced! She is kind, giving, stands up for a cause, and she’s a strong, incredible leader. The gender should just be a non issue here, but the fact that almost every shirt and piece of merchandise I have seen literally has every main MALE character from the show and excludes the women or just Hera is really unacceptable on so many levels!
How excited are you about the upcoming sequel? What are your hopes when it comes to the future of Star Wars?
Oh man, I was waiting so impatiently over at r/starwars subreddit (reddit.com) for the first person to post the trailer. I was shrieking and screaming so loudly, and then, the Falcon appeared and the crying started. I am finally going to see the Millennium Falcon on the big screen! I can NOT wait! As far as hopes, I just want the movies to make me feel like I’m on an adventure! It’s Star Wars, so I think that’s all I really need!
Do you have any current or future projects that you’re working on and that you’d like to share some words about?
Let’s address Ahsoka’s headpiece, since everyone is constantly asking about that. I’ve been trying for a very long time to get it right. I think I should have it very soon. I am also close to a new hat that is a homage to several female characters all in one hat. I’m pretty sure that Honda Ohnaka might find that one tiny, youngling-sized, soft spot in his heart for you, if you were wearing it. Finally, I am working on a male character, but if you wear it, watch out for Han Solo.
So many cool ideas and designs coming from an awesome Star Wars fangirl with a big heart! Want to see what Alison has in store for you in the near future? Keep up with her by following her latest updates on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
Visit her Etsy store regularly to find the latest Star Wars inspired cosplay hats and hoods.