The Supporting Small Businesses Series aims to highlight how businesses are adapting in these changing times. In our first installment, we interviewed Stephanie Bianchini, the owner of Princess Magic which provides characters for children’s birthday parties and events. With everyone being stuck at home now, she has adapted her business model to help bring some virtual magic to families and children.
Can you tell us a bit about your business?
I run Princess Magic which is a party business where we portray different Disney princess characters and superheroes (like Super Girl and Spiderman). Some of the Disney characters we offer include Anna, Elsa, Rapunzel, Ariel, Belle, Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, and Tinker Bell. Now with our virtual Princess Playdates, I can help provide a little magic and entertainment while everyone is quarantined at home.
How did you get started?
I was really sick a few years ago and in the hospital for a little while. I was thinking about what I wanted to do to help make the world a better place when I got out of the hospital and what would help others going through a tough time. It’s been a dream since I was younger to help children by being a Disney princess. I started about six years ago as Cinderella at the restaurant The Melting Pot, and it was a great experience. I had so much fun, and it just felt like the perfect job for me. I wanted to keep expanding my business through various avenues, and it’s been growing ever since.
How have customers been able to connect with you?
I connect with customers on GigSalad, and I use Facebook and social media. A lot of it is also word of mouth. I’ve worked at many different schools and at different venues for birthday parties, so that’s been a good way to grow my business.
What are some highlights of the business so far?
There’s so many! Seeing the light in the kids’ faces when they meet their favorite character is the best part whether its charity related or for a birthday party. The kids are really sweet and some even ask to bring me back home after their party ends! I read stories about the characters to the children and ask them questions, and I love hearing from them. It’s an amazing experience for me because I looked up to these characters when I was a kid. It feels like now that I’m older and things have changed, I can be that role model for these kids, and that’s what I’ve always wanted to be.
Any special stories or customers that stand out?
After my first experience as Cinderella, someone helped to buy me the costumes, so I was able to provide a special princess experience at Homeless Solutions. They provide housing for people who are struggling. There is an area for kids, and my friend and I dressed up as Anna and Elsa for one of the children’s birthday parties at the shelter. Another really special experience was meeting a sweet little girl who was sick in the hospital through Halos for Angels.
How have you been managing with adapting your business to the changing times?
I’ve been promoting my virtual princess playdates on social media. I also post in mom groups on Facebook to get the word out. It is a bit challenging because I’m not a big social media person, but I’ve had to learn to become one. The virtual playdates are definitely different than what I’m used to. Normally I get my energy from everyone in the room, but now I have to create that energy on my own from my home. I’m an extrovert so it’s a different experience for me, because I normally gain my energy from being around others. When I’m on my own, I have to create that for myself. Just seeing the kids on the other side of the screen really does help though. If I can create positive energy, then I can pass that onto the kids as well. It’s a new kind of performance style for me, but it’s been very cool. I was trying to figure out something I could do to continue with my business and find a way to help make people happy during this difficult time. I’ve been doing virtual playdates for a couple of weeks now since this has started, and it has been going really well so far. I’ve had some returning customers from New Jersey as well as some new customers get in touch with me for virtual playdates. I actually also had a customer recently from California!
How have children responded to the virtual playdates?
Some of the kids are a bit shy at first and they don’t understand what’s going on. They’re like, “Why is this princess here on the phone and talking to me?!” And other kids are really excited from the get-go. No matter what though they all end up becoming engaged, and I’m able to keep them focused on the playdate for the most part. I’ve had some funny kids and great memories so far!
What are the age ranges of children that you work with?
Normally about ages three through eight years old. I’ve had more older children for the virtual playdates though. I think the focus has been better for the older kids than the littler ones.
Who are some of the most requested characters?
Elsa is number one! She’s always number one whether it’s virtual or not. Rapunzel has been a pretty popular character as well recently. It’s very fitting in this scenario because she was stuck in a tower for so long! She’s the queen of quarantine, so she can relate well to the kids!
Any parting words?
It’s been a dream of mine to start this business. I’ve been trying to focus especially this year on it. I’ve tried some other jobs, and I feel like this is really where I belong, and this is what I really am meant to do. I want to be there for kids and be a role model for them like these princesses were to me when I was growing up. I want to help make others happy and put a smile on their face. I’ve worked with some wonderful people during this process and some great charities like Halos for Angels and the Make a Wish Foundation. That’s been an amazing part of this process as well. Overall, I have so much fun doing this. There are so many great characters that I get to portray. Sleeping Beauty was my favorite when I was little, but each princess has something special to offer, and by playing these characters, I’ve gotten to highlight something unique about each one. I also want to make sure that every child feels like there’s something special in them as well to help build up their self-confidence. I think that is really important. I try to add in some lessons as well. A good example now is using Anna and Elsa’s story from Frozen as a way to help siblings work together and not isolate each other during this time. Another good lesson is to treat others how you want to be treated. My final lesson is to teach children to go after their dreams!
Support Princess Magic and arrange a virtual playdate! Check out the two customizable options:
- $15 – Princess Phone Call (Approximately 20 minutes)
- Princess of your choice will call your child
- Princess will sing a song, read a story, and talk to your child.
- $30 – Virtual Princess Playdate (Approximately 30 minutes)
- Princess of your choice will arrange a call through FaceTime, Skype, Google Duo, Google Hangouts, or Zoom
- Princess will sing a song, read a story, talk to your child, and teach a dance.
Schedule your Magical Experience with Stephanie Bianchini or purchase as a gift for a friend! Feel free to contact her via phone, email, or social media.