Updated: Oct 29
Getting a character for your child's birthday can be so expensive that it honestly feels like an investment - but here's the truth - it IS an investment. Every person has the opportunity to make childhood memories only ONCE in their lives. Giving a child birthday memories that they can always look back on is an investment in their happiness, outlook, and future. It can spark interest and have a lasting effect (look at me, the creator of Southern Belle Princess Parties - where would I be if my mother hadn't booked Ariel for my 7th birthday?). This is why I take character quality and character integrity very seriously. Take a look below to see exactly what you are paying for when you book a character with southern Belle Princess Parties.
The Costumes, The Wigs, The Look, The Magic.
The Costumes: on average, one dress will cost your princess/character company anywhere from $35 (we're talking Amazon, Party City, and Goodwill stuff) to $1,500 depending on the commissioner. Party City costumes are easy to get. They are available year round and usually have the logo of the character you are looking for (just in case you couldn't tell who your character is just by looking at them). However, we don't settle for easy here at Southern Belle Princess Parties. Each of our costume takes approximately 12-14 months to make. They are hand sewed with the finest fabrics and skills (many of our dress commissioners used to work for Disney World and have access to authentic Disney Fabrics). These are not dresses you will find on Etsy or anywhere on the internet. We spend hours upon hours researching to find only the best for your child and for our company. After each party, I take the time to hand clean all our dresses so they always look (and smell) perfectly.
The Wigs: wigs make the character. Let me say that again for the people in the back - without a good wig you will not have a good character. Your character can be dressed in jeans and t-shirt and a child will still recognize them (and believe they are real) if they have the right wig. Wigs are probably the most difficult part of owning a character company as they are fragile and need constant care. An amazon wig can run about $35-55. Our wigs are $250-550 depending on the character and require about a 6-8 month wait time to receive them from our commissioners (who you cannot find on Etsy as they currently work at Walt Disney World). Our wigs have to be touched up every single time they are worn. That means that even if you book our company for a 30 minute party, we will still be spending approximately an hour worth of time after your party freshening up the wig.
The Look: have you ever seen a Disney Princess without her makeup on? Neither have I! Whether you meet a character at Walt Disney World or at Southern Belle Princess Parties you are meeting a human being who is doing her best to portray a cartoon. This requires an extensive amount of makeup. Makeup costs can be anywhere from $100-$250 per performer, per year. We currently have about 35 performers at our company. When you book a character, it takes about an hour to do their makeup perfectly. That means whether you book a 30 minute visit or a 2-hr. visit we are still spending about an hour before your party on the perfect look for your visit!
Owning a Small Business - Where your Money Goes!
Before I created my business I had no idea how much money goes straight into it! Here are just a few of our monthly costs - a few places where your money goes when you book our company:
Business Phone Bill
Website Fees ($12/Month)
Domain Name Fees ($10/Month)
Wig Bands and No-Slip Grips
How much time are we actually spending at a party?
Here is an basic list of the amount of time it takes us to do a 30 minute party:
Makeup (60 Minutes)
Driving to Dressing Studio (30 Minutes - 90 Minutes)
Getting Dressed as the Character (30 Minutes)
Packing Supplies (10 Minutes)
Driving to you (10 minutes - 2 hours)
Your Party (30 minutes)
Driving back to our Dressing Studio (10 Minutes - 2 Hours)
Undressing and Unpacking the Supplies (30 Minutes)
Driving Home (30 Minutes - 90 Minutes)
Wig restyles (60 Minutes)
Estimated Time: 5 - 10.30 Hrs.
(One Saturday Party = a Full Day's Work!)
Behind the scenes:
Once we had a request for a charity event. This was the 9th request in 7 days asking for $500+ worth of work for free. Our company was loosing money daily, as we never have the heart to say no. I crunched some numbers and let the company know that we could do it for $90 total. They said this was still out of their budget but eventually decided to book us. The regular amount I would have charged for this particular event as $290 for both characters (still a discounted price for our non-profit partners). It was two characters (myself and another performer). We both agreed to split the pay 50/50. The company wouldn't make any money and I would have to spend time after the party restyling the wigs and cleaning the costumes but this is something I wanted to do for the event. The day of the party we had a new performer at the studio while my performer and I were getting ready. She was new and excited and asked if she could perform as a third character just for fun. I told her that I didn't know what third character this company would want - but she could take my place performing instead - and I decided just to absorb the gas prices (the event is for charity after all!). The event was about an hour and a half away. At the event, my performers had a lot of time. The hosts were welcoming and we really felt like we were doing good! When we went to leave, the same woman I had spent hours on the phone with answering questions, discussing quotes, and booking came up and were praising my two performers. She gave them both a $100 tip. Both my performers left with $145. I left with an empty gas tank, no money for the event, hours of my week missing from those phone calls and the accounting that goes into every booking and because our wig had a mishap and was destroyed at the event - a $135 wig bill.
I tell this story because I think it is important to realize how much work goes on behind the scenes. I'm not angry. I'm not upset. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I went into this business for simple reasons: I love kids, I love performing, I love owning my own business, and I love bringing quality characters to the Atlanta area. I tell this story as a plea to you, my client, to understand. Our prices may look high but that is because we do not settle for less than perfection. We look high but there is so much that goes into our business that just simply doesn't with other companies (I don't know any other company in the Atlanta area that is legally insured or licensed to perform). We need a company owner who can make this her full time job. She still needs to eat, live, and survive on the money she makes from this company. We need more women "boss ladies" in the world and it is through you that this dream can be made a reality.
Next time you book and you ask for a discount, don't forget what the owner of our company did for your 30 minute party:
- Found the Most Authentic Dresses, Wigs, and Makeup Looks
- Interviewed, Hired, and Extensively Trained your Performer
- Answered all Questions
- Sent Over your Invoice
- Sent Over your Confirmation Email
- Scheduled the Performers
- Performed Payroll
- Made the Website
- Sent you feedback forms to improve our quality.
- Took and edited every photo you looked at on the website.
And so much more.
To you it feels like a 30 minute party - to us it feels like a full day of work.
We Love You!
Thank you for being our client. We truly love and appreciate you. By booking with us you are helping a small business become a thriving business and are giving a group of performers, your child, and yourself memories to last a lifetime.