Mengshu, the co-founder of Coscove, is our next guest on the Senpai Spotlight!
Man, how long has it been since I’ve done a Senpai Spotlight cosplay interview? More than 2 years actually!
For those who don’t know, Coscove is the place to find used cosplays to buy at great prices or if you want to sell your own. But unlike the hassles of buying or selling your cosplays on Facebook, Coscove does all the heavy lifting for you!
In this interview, Mengshu tells me how Coscove got started, her interesting experiences running Coscove so far (both offline and online), and how Coscove has been making life easier for cosplayers!
Here’s where you can find Coscove on the Internet:
Senpai: Welcome to the Senpai Spotlight everybody. I am Roger Senpai. And today I’m here with Mengshu from Coscove. And we will be interviewing her and finding out what Coscove is all about and all the stuff that goes around it. So hello!
Mengshu: Hey Roger, so great to be here. And as Roger said, I’m one of the founders of Coscove. And we are a cosplay marketplace that essentially helped people buy and sell custom costumes, secondhand costumes, and it’s something that I built with my high school best friend. I’m very excited to be here and sharing what we’re up to.
Senpai: Awesome. So my first question is what made you guys want to start Coscove on this cosplay marketplace?
Mengshu: Absolutely. Honestly, it just goes all the way back. I grew up or I actually moved to Canada with my parents when I was pretty young around 10. And where I was from, it wasn’t the most exciting place.
So I started to watch like anime manga when I was a pretty young kid. I used to be like hunched over in front of the TV while sewing. So I kind of grew up with them with cosplay. And my high school best friend, she’s a photographer. So when I met her in high school, and the two of us just started to like go crazy. With all sorts of photo shoots. We were like the dynamic duo.
And then this is just something that we continue to do. Even though we went to different schools, like had different jobs lived in different countries, we just kept on meeting up in different places to do cosplay. And I traveled a ton for school and for work so I can never, like bring my sewing machine with me. So I would say unfortunately, my sewing skills have stagnated since I was like probably like 15 or 16.
But during this period of time, I bought a lot of stuff secondhand and I realized how hard it was to buy and sell like Facebook marketplace through a lot of the different tools that we have like in the US or like through like you know, Kijiji, so I wanted to create something that was better for the community. And that’s how we got started.
And of course, my high school best friend is now a coder. So it’s again, the perfect tool again, so we joined forces during the pandemic. And that’s how Coscove was born.
Senpai: That’s a really interesting backstory. I didn’t even know that that was the main reason. I could kind of relate like being a traveler, because I’ve done that recently. Going around traveling.
Mengshu: Exactly, I recently moved again. So I like literally had to, like sell my mannequin and like my sewing machine and like all of my scrap supplies. So I feel like every time I move, it’s just I just get so sad and depressed. But now Coscove has built so I like just replenished a lot of secondhand costumes again.
Makes sense. Because, yeah, you make a good point. Because like, I mean, you have a lot of these Facebook groups that sell costumes and everything, but it’s only really if you’re in the area, it’s fine.
But if you’re like travelers like us, it’s like it’s kind of difficult to be around and be able to buy locally. So it’s good that there’s like the something like Coscove of around and it’s really cool. I guess. I mean, obviously from what we’re talking about, like it’s great for like people who are really mobile.
Senpai: What else separates Coscove from your typical Buy/Sell/Trade group?
Mengshu: There’s three key things that I want to achieve with Coscove. In the US because I came here for school, and have been here for a long time. There’s like an actually a couple of really good shopping apps that we use that doesn’t exist in Canada. I really like Depop, I really like Poshmark and they just make things super easy in terms of finding things: by different brands, finding things by different conditions, paying directly. And then you get like a shipping label sent to you if you’re the seller, and within a couple of days, the return process is super easy.
So that type of product doesn’t really exist anywhere for that community. And I think especially, for Facebook, my biggest gripe was just it was really hard to search and filter; I just have to scroll so much. And then even so I don’t know if the item is actually still available, because sometimes a lot of people leave the listings up there.
Personally, I haven’t had a horrible story where someone totally scammed me or sent me something that was horrible. But I’ve definitely heard a lot from other friends who: they will get these things as smell incredibly bad, they have no way to return it, or the item is not as described. And then now they have to go through like a couple months to really open up the case, and then they may not get their money refunded.
So I think especially in the US where we don’t have a lot of these hubs where people can meet up, transacting makes it very difficult if you don’t have a good platform. So that was one angle that I was hoping Coscove could solve.
Both my co-founder and I really care about the environment, which is why we want to do things second-hand whenever possible, and we want to save on shipping cost. So we’ve started to do these partnerships with the conventions people where we can go there, we have a booth, and then people list their items on Coscove, and then they bring it in during the convention. We help them sell it while they enjoy the con. That has worked really well, because it’s kind of like oh, like a swap meet, where you don’t have to match your booth. So that has been something that folks have really, really enjoyed.
And then now we’re also exploring, like exploring ways where you can actually just add in the convention that you’re going to, to your bio, and then all of your listings will be searchable by the convention. So even if Coscove can’t be there in person, other people who are going to the convention, they can still see what items you have, and they message you and offer to do like a pickup there.
Lastly, something else that I just want to make more possible is just for people to be able to connect with the community. Because at the end of the day, whether it’s second-hand or getting a custom costume, you’re dealing with another person in the community. And so that’s why I think with what we’re doing, ultimately, I want to be able to create that type of profile for cosplayers and makers, for them to really showcase like, “Hey, this is, you know, like, this is my cosplay experience. And you should trust me, when we’re dealing with each other, when I’m making a costume for you.” And for us to help each other open up more opportunities.
Because ever since I started to do Coscove, you know, I’ve had a lot of people coming to me for help in terms of, “Hey, I really want to start getting into making things or I kind of want to start working with different cosplay brands, and these are the things I’m looking for.” But right now, there’s really no way to indicate that anywhere. So I think ultimately, what I’m hoping to build is a place where we can facilitate more of these, you know, like ways to help each other and just indicate what we want, and what we’re hoping to get.
Senpai: Pretty cool. So you can see Coscove as a way for other cosplayers to network and build another more than just social opportunities to do other stuff with other companies as well.
Mengshu: Exactly. One of my gripes was like growing up; I came from a very traditional immigrant family. And my parents were never supportive of me going into the arts. So that’s why for college, you know?
A lot of people when they look at you in costume, or you doing something that’s artistic, and (the) natural question is, “How are you going to support yourself?” So ultimately, what I’m hoping to do is, give people ways to support themselves through what they love, right?
And actually, that’s something that I’m working on right now; providing a guide for people to help think through, “What are the ways that you can actually make money with cosplay?” I know there’s been some good content out there, but we’re just kind of trying to synthesize that and then just give people like very easy ways to figure about what is best for you given like your personality and your skills. So that’s also something that’s coming up pretty soon.
Senpai: That’s pretty awesome. I had a lot of things I wanted to say. But I didn’t want to interrupt, I wanted you to say everything you wanted to. So I really find that (you Coscove) being at the anime convention, being able to facilitate the process of buying and selling…I find that really, really cool. Hopefully we get to see more of that as well, because I think it’s really convenient for one of the biggest hassles of buying or selling a cosplay is actually meeting up and doing that, trying to find a place to do it.
Mengshu: And the thing is, you’re going to the convention anyways. Right? You’re probably most likely bringing a suitcase anyways. And nobody like wants to waste time at the convention. Like there’s a lot of panels to see, there’s a lot of showings, there’s a lot of people to meet. So that’s why we’ll go there, and we’ll man the booth, and we’ll just take the hassle out of that. So that’s definitely something that we’re really excited by.
Senpai: Nobody wants to meet up like in the middle of the crowd of Anime North or something like that and try to find that person.
Mengshu: So I would say right now we have an event coming up in Ohio called Matsuricon, where we’re the headline event, and then we run this like night market type style event, we’re still trying to figure out the best name for it. And then we also have a partnership coming up with New York Comic Con. And then potentially a couple more coming up. Rose City, Comic Con anime NYC, these are still TBD. But we’re trying to get ourselves in there. And then I’m really hoping to work with a lot of the Canadian conventions as well, because I’d love to bring this back home to where we got started with cosplay.
Senpai: Yeah, I was gonna say, maybe Fan Expo.
Mengshu: I mean, so right now, I think people are able to take their items to the convention, just like online virtually, because I’ve been in contact with some of the con organizers. And I think the conversations are a little bit slow. But in the meantime, if we’re not there in person, you know, any listing that you have, like on your Coscove profile, you can just say, I’m going to this convention, and that all of those will still be searchable. So at least people can find you and then make arrangements with you beforehand. But yeah, we’re definitely hoping to bring like the Coscove booth there. To make it easier.
Senpai: And I look forward to seeing you guys. I mean, I wasn’t able to go to Yeticon this year. But maybe the next convention for sure, yes. Whenever you touched on a point about the hassle of trusting the buyer and seller, when you’re doing it typically on Facebook. And yeah, I mean, as an organizer, like, as like I run a group myself, I see a lot like I personally haven’t had any bad experiences. But I’ve known a lot of my friends and people in my cosplay group that have a lot of bad experiences with certain buyers or the quality of the costume. This transitions to my next question with Coscove; how do you protect the buyer? Or the ad or the seller?
Mengshu: That’s definitely a good question. And I think about this, you know, really in two ways.
I think one way is about, you know, the costly identity. You know, as we start to build out more of these cosplay profiles, where you’re able to connect, hey, like, This is who I am on my Instagram, this is why I’m on Twitter, right? Naturally, I think that itself. And once you have more things onto the profile, you have your reviews, that will kind of act as like your reputation system, so that people can check out and that before they even make the purchase.
But second, after the make the purchase, right? What I’m hoping to do is build a system where within three days of opening (and) receiving the item; if it’s not as described, if it’s got any defects that were mentioned, or for like a list of reason, obviously, if the size doesn’t fit you or if you all of a sudden don’t like it anymore, that’s going to be harder to accommodate. But if like it’s got like weird odors, or you know, things just weren’t described and you got ripped off, then we want to make the refund and exchange or like return process really easy. Within three to five days, you can open a claim and will process that and the refund will go back to you very easily. So kind of like before and after the transaction will protect you on both ends.
Senpai: Okay, so I’m just trying to think about like, okay, let’s say I’m, I’m buying a cosplay from somebody, and I get the costume, and it doesn’t fit me. And then I’m like, “Okay, I can’t wear this costume. What would happen in that case?”
Mengshu: Yeah, if it doesn’t fit you and if the size has already indicated, and if it was more of like, I don’t want to call it a blender. I mean, measuring itself is hard. But if for whatever you. Then you can’t measure yourself and it came in, it doesn’t fit. Honestly, the best way to do that is just to resell it on Coscove. Something that I’m working through right now is actually a feature that lets you relist anything you buy pretty easily, because the thing that we see is, hey, look, some of these, like really nice costumes, they get sold like, five, six times, right? Like, who knows, like, county in if it’s like kept in good condition, right? Like, pass it down to me.
So I want to make that process pretty easy. And this is also something that I’ve discovered as well, which is, you know, if you buy secondhand, if you keep it in good condition, and then you sell it, effectively, the cost of you owning a costume could be as low as zero, right? Especially if you like, make some like embellishments or like if you add, you know, some like trim, then just tune it up a little bit, right, the cost of owning a costume, it could be very low, because the difference between your buy present and sell price is could be negligent. So this is one of the ways to hack cosplay, actually. And it’s something that I’ll be sharing more in my article, but basically, this is, this is what I’ve been doing with all of my college textbooks. And this is what I’m doing with like, secondhand costumes as well.
Senpai: Yeah I talk about it in my blog. I call it CosSwapping. It’s like, I know, it’s not the same thing. But it’s like, you wear a costume. And then you sell that costume so you can find the next costume. Yeah, it’s just, exactly. It’s a similar process.
Mengshu: Exactly. And it’s better for the environment. And especially if you’re doing pickups and stuff, and you’re avoiding the shipping, and the carbon in the water is wasted through that.
Senpai: Yeah, I mean, who has money to buy new costumes every time? Yeah, it’s pretty expensive after a while!
Mengshu: Yep. I know. I know. So I think that’s definitely the topic that we have to think about. Times aren’t easy in the economy. So how do we still pursue what we love? How do we still sustain this passion?
I know, during the pandemic, a couple of friends actually went full-time and became makers full-time because they lost their jobs. So there’s actually some, I don’t want to call it silver lining. But potentially, this is a way for people to open up their closets more trade more, sell more, buy more, and maybe it’ll also give them the opportunity to explore opportunities that they were afraid to before. So yeah, I do hope everybody is, you know, economically, financially safe and stable and everything. I definitely don’t want to wish that upon anybody, but just want to say that I have heard of a couple very inspirational stories.
Senpai: Yeah, that’s good. When one door closes another one opens. Exactly, you make a good point about having to find different ways to save. And this is definitely one way to do so. So keeping while keeping your passion and your hobbies like in cosplay?
Mengshu: For sure. Because I mean, the hobbies don’t go away, I think. And I was very curious on this topic, during like the Great Depression, the Great Recession, even during the pandemic, like people spend more time and more money on leisure activities, because, hey, look, when times are tough, we need things to keep ourselves happy. And it’s very important for our mental health.
Senpai: I know you’ve been setting up for Coscove for a little while. What’s your experience been? So far? Has it been really positive? Has it been a huge undertaking? Can you kind of describe those “behind the scenes” like how it’s been?
Mengshu: Man, where to start? Like, I think, obviously, starting anything is really, really hard,
I’ve heard anecdotes from people of like, oh, it’s like, going from zero to one, it’s really, really hard. Building a startup is going to have a lot of ups and downs. It’s like an emotional roller coaster. And they were absolutely right. And I feel like I’m feeling that every single day. Obviously, things are going well, in terms of like, you know, what’s happening online, like, we’re seeing a lot more people join our community, people are listening everyday, there’s tons of new stuff there. So every time I see the activity there, I’m super happy and thrilled.
But obviously, it’s hard right to think about and to figure out like, Okay, what is it that the community actually needs? Right? Like, what is, you know, what are some ways that we can help them, you know, like, like, build the features that are actually useful.
And there’s also a lot of rejection that we face every day, right? Not every convention knows what we’re doing. And we’re not going to be able to get in front of the right people all the time. So that I feel like for anyone who’s starting, you know, thinking of like building anything, this is definitely something that I have to keep in mind.
But overall, I would say it’s, it’s been a very rewarding journey. And I’m so thankful that I’m doing it with like my high school best friend, I think, the two of us, you know, we’ve gotten to know each other. This experience has really strengthened our relationship. And now we’re literally traveling to different conventions, working on Coscove, doing photo shoots, it really is like reliving our high school that is. So that’s the really, really incredible. So what’s the best way to say it’s kind of like a roller coaster, there’s like highs and there’s lows, but ultimately, you know, when I think about what we’re building, and then the impact that we want to achieve one day, that’s what keeps me going.
Senpai: Yeah, I can totally relate to where you’re obviously. I feel like starting a startup is a lot harder than starting a blog.
Mengshu: I can’t write consistently if my life depended on it. I know that was something that you mentioned, like I’ve tried. So don’t sell yourself short! It’s hard to keep up. Yeah,
Senpai: It sounds like Coscove is going along really, really well. And things are good. Do you see any other long term things happening? I know, you mentioned the whole networking and going to more conventions? I mean, what other things do you plan to see with Coscove?
Mengshu: Well, the good thing, and the bad thing is, we are constantly exploring different ideas, we have a ton of ideas. And I’m talking to a lot of people who have a lot of ideas. So there’s a ton that we’re thinking through.
But short answer is, I don’t really know. But that does mean if anyone has like good ideas or suggestions I’m always open to hearing. And then we’ll probably test out a bunch of these things before we figure out like, what’s best.
Senpai: I feel like you don’t need to change many things up. I mean, if people, if cosplayers are liking this, the service that you guys provide, and everyone’s happy. If it ain’t broke, why fix it?
Mengshu: I appreciate that. But yeah, definitely hoping to grow the core of what we’re doing right now to many conventions in the US and Canada, and maybe Europe. And then afterwards, you know, we’ll figure out how we can best help folks. But yeah, what I mentioned, I’m pretty sure.
I’m pretty sure as more people find out about Coscove is going to, it’s going to grow.
It made me so happy when I met someone at the con. And we were just like chatting randomly. And then they’re like “Have you heard of this called Coscove?” And I was like, “Oh, my gosh, you don’t say!”
Senpai: Yeah, so it goes back to what you were saying earlier. When these moments happen in the wild, it’s like the best feeling ever! So what was their reaction when they found out (you’re the founder of Coscove)?
Mengshu: “It was you?!” What do you know, immediately, they went on to give me some suggestions, as well as like ideas, brainstorming ideas. So I think that’s been very fun.
It’s just crazy ideas to build out Coscove and what it could be in the future, which gets me excited. Because that means they’ve been on our website, they’re excited about what we’re doing. And then they’re doing the brainstorming with us.
Senpai: Where did the Coscove name come from?
Mengshu: So there’s actually a pretty funny story. It was kind of inspired by like an aquatic, Little Mermaid theme almost like a cosplay treasure trove. So Coscove came about. I’ve always been like a huge Disney Princess fan. So that’s that. But shortly after, our name was named and we like made all of the necessary like domains and accounts and everything. So it was basically set.
When I was telling my friends, “Hey, I’m working on Coscove!”
And they’re like “Wait what…Costco?”
I hadn’t realized how similar it sounded. So that’s like a running joke that we have. My friends asked me, “Why did you name your startup after a grocery chain?”
And funnily the same friend tried to search us up online, but he misspelled the E. So Coscove without the E and he’s like, did you know that when I do this, it’s still Costco. That comes up.
I’m like, dammit, okay. It just means we need to work on our SEO so that like, it comes up higher. That’s what it tells me.
But yeah, so I think in the future, I’m gonna try to go to Costco in costume. And then that can be the running joke.
Senpai: You should do that! You should have somebody at your booth, cosplaying as Costco. I’ve seen people cosplay buildings. 🙂
If you have any questions for Mengshu or about Coscove, leave them in the comments below!
My name is Roger Senpai. I’m a cosplayer that’s been in the community for well over a decade now. I’ve traveled all over the world to Anime and Comic conventions and hosted my own cosplay events. Now I’m writing articles for new and experienced cosplayers like you to help inspire, save you money and improve your cosplays!