Meet the Team!

Amanda "Mari" Gregory

Founder and President

 

Amanda (aka Mari) is our company’s president. She was born and raised in San Francisco, CA, and moved to Los Angeles, CA, in 2006. She went to FIDM (Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising) in 2006, where she would make cosplays for homework assignments, and earned degrees in fashion design and theatre costume design. Since her first cosplay and anime convention in 2007, she’s been addicted to cosplaying and challenging herself. While helping her friends create their own cosplays, she wanted to find a way to help others as well.

After FIDM, she went on to work in the film industry for a few years as a costume designer before she realized that what she actually wanted to do was help other people make cosplays. So she went back to school at ELAC (East Los Angeles College), where she earned a degree in humanities, and then transferred to Chapman University, where she earned a degree in business administration with an emphasis in entrepreneurship. From there, she started First Stop Cosplay with the hope to help educate, inspire, and empower those who want to create their own cosplays.

Her favorite character is Black Rock Shooter, she’s obsessed with Fruits Basket, and Snorlax is her personal icon.

 

Kelly Willey

Marketing Director 

Kelly is our marketing director! She was born and raised around the South Bay area in Los Angeles, CA. If she’s not playing FFXIV, she’s spending time with her animals while watching anime or Disney+. She takes care of our social media platforms as well as convention schedules. She’s been cosplaying/dressing up and going to anime conventions since 2005. Her favorite cosplay is Linkle from Hyrule Warriors, and her dream cosplay is Yukari’s blue runway dress from Paradise Kiss

 

Katy Titus

Marketing Consultant

 

Katy is our marketing consultant! She lives in San Diego, CA, and when she's not playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons or bingeing history documentaries on YouTube, she assists us in our promotional efforts by drawing on her experience in marketing for arts & culture institutions. Her first cosplay was Rapunzel from Disney's Tangled, and her dream cosplay is Hanji Zoe from Attack on Titan.

  

Ryan Palmerton

Project Manager 

Ryan is our project manager. He is from Portland, Oregon and recently moved to Southern California, trading rain for more traffic and a new love of quesabirria tacos. He fell in love with the cosplay community at Anime Expo 2013, and by the next year he attended with a cosplay he made himself. His favorite cosplay he’s made was a Twilight Princess Link with a full chainmail shirt that took him 5 months to craft out of fence wire! His other hobbies are karaoke, thrift shopping, eating all forms of dumplings, and dancing in VR.

 

Ashley Kirk

Patternmaker 

Ashley is our patternmaker. She grew up in Dana Point, CA watching anime, reading manga, and learning how to sew. Her first convention was Anime Expo 2009, and it immediately sparked her love for creating cosplay. She was awarded Best in Show in the Animation on Display Masquerade in 2016 and is always looking forward to her next big cosplay project. When not at her sewing machine, she likes to play video games, hang out with her three cockatiels, and watch anime. She looks forward to bringing more cosplays to life!

 

Kristin Koga

Hand Sewer

 

Kristin is one of our hand sewers. She grew up in Encinitas, CA. Since she was young, she’s had a passion for the arts. It started with a love for the Sailor Moon manga as a child that got her to attend conventions as a teen. Anime and geek content has been a constant backdrop and inspiration in her life, from starting a blog dedicated to costume design to holding a degree in textiles and clothing. After becoming a finalist for the Her Universe “Geek Couture” Fashion Show in 2014, it brought together her love of geek things, costume design, and fashion design.

 

Arron Bowman

Hand Sewer

 

Arron is one of our hand sewers. Growing up in San Diego, CA, he became obsessed with making his costumes for Halloween in fourth grade. In eighth grade, he attempted his first cosplay for the premiere of the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender movie. In high school, he founded a cosplay club focused on teaching cosplay to his fellow peers. To pursue his passion, he went to college and holds a degree in theater with an emphasis in costume design and technology. Over the years, he’s won several awards competing at WonderCon, Anime LA, Anime Conji, and San Diego Comic-Con.

 

 

Carl Pangi

Video Engineer

 

This is Carl! He's a video engineer at First Stop Cosplay. Born and raised in San Diego, he graduated with a degree in film at CSU Fullerton. He loves playing video games, watching movies & anime, and making illustrations of various art. He's been attending conventions since 2001! Now, he usually attends as a photographer and goes by Pangi Cospix. Along with his honed video skills, he's a cosplayer as well! He's very excited and feels lucky to be able to mesh both of his hobbies into a professional career.

 

Kit Pierce

Online Sales Representative

 

Kit is one of our sales representatives! Originally from South Florida, they've been a part of the Florida con scene since 2012, and worked as a convention vendor from 2014 to 2019 when they moved to join the Cali con scene instead. Their love for anime started from when Naruto very first aired on Toonami, and spent ages getting up before dawn to watch Inuyasha, only to trade it for waking up before dawn to work on cosplays before school instead. The freedom and passion towards cosplay drove them to keep up the hobby as they tried newer and bigger projects to learn new more complex skills ranging from thoroughly coordinated group cosplays to ballgowns like Beatrice from Umineko!

 

Raven Walker

Online Sales Representative

 

Meet Raven. Raven was born/raised in So Cal and is an old school Anime head. She is First Stop Cosplay’s Online Sales Representative and Jill of All Trades. Raven made her first cosplay, Gender Bent Testament from Guilty Gear, in 2004 for Anime Expo and got hooked on making outfits for herself and others. Even before cosplay Raven was a lifelong nerd. She started her path to Nerddom at 5 with video games, at age 11 she discovered comic books, and at 18 Fan4Fan Anime on VHS. It did not take too much convincing to propel her to make cosplay, and a few years later Guilty Gear (Testament and Baiken), Bleach, Mana, and Club Wear kept her happily /constantly creating. Raven’s love of Cosplay/Costume/Clothing lead her to earn a degree of Fashion Design and pursue work in the industry.  Some may recognize this Red Dame from conventions or fashion shows, and she looks forward to being of service yet again with her sage if not mildly silly advice and creating a space for people to learn, grow, and expand their idea of what is possible.

 

Ariel Suarez

Hand Sewer

 

Meet Ariel! Ariel is one of our hand sewers. Their achievements include winning Best in Show at Anime Expo Masquerade 2018 and receiving their BA in arts at California State University Los Angeles. They were first introduced to anime and manga in 2009 when their friend handed them the first volume of Fruits Basket. Their favorite anime is Neon Genesis Evangelion and Puella Magi Madoka Magica. Since then, their interest has shifted to video games. Metal Gear and Guilty Gear are their favorite series. They love to illustrate and make doll clothes when they're not gaming.


Nacho

Video Engineer

 

Meet Nacho! He's one of our video engineers. Born and raised in Orange County, California, he graduated with a degree in film from Cal State Fullerton. He grew up on Saturday morning cartoons and spent countless hours reading comics and manga. His passion for filmmaking started as a hobby in high school but has now become a fulfilling professional career. He has been attending conventions since 2007 and enjoys learning about new film production techniques and listening to interesting panel discussions from other filmmakers. When he isn't working on a film project, he enjoys watching movies & anime, playing video games, and cooking. He loves stuffing his face with a big bowl of ramen!