A business formed on playing princess

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Kimberly Hyatt
For the Budgeteer News

Jodi Polasky is a student at the University of Minnesota Duluth finishing up a criminology degree while working another full-time job as a janitor. She’s punctual, polite, musical, studious and she cleans toilets for cash to buy frilly, sequined costumes and balloons. You could say she’s basically a modern-day Cinderella who drives a Malibu, which, fortunately, doesn’t turn into a pumpkin after midnight.
Polasky is the CEO and Cinderella-extraordinaire of Pretty Princess Parties. She takes her love for Disney and capitalizes on her cuteness by serving the Twin Ports area to “make your little one’s dream a reality by inviting a real princess to her party!”
“It is fantastic … genius really. From the moment she came in to the moment she left, she had the kids captured,” said Erin Williams, mother and customer of Pretty Princess. “For her to be able to walk in and just activate that entire audience — all of the adults were just like ‘wow she is awesome, how did you find her?’”
The Budgeteer recently caught up with Polasky while she met with children at Cold Stone Creamery dressed as Rapunzel.
Those with a hankering for frozen treats were struck by Polasky waltzing in the place like it was her stage.
“If they ask you, it’s not a costume. It’s an actual outfit,” she warns the unintended audience. When the kids arrive, their excitement is quite contrary to the others’ confusion.
“The first 10 minutes you walk in … the kids can’t handle it. They’re just over the moon. They just want to touch your hair, ask you questions,” Polasky said. “You have to stay in character the whole time and think on your feet.”
Polasky said she likes to do parties for children younger than eight years old, when they can still “dream that pure dream.” She said the older kids can sometimes “kill the magic.”
“Princesses don’t probably exist. People have flaws; it’s not really like the movies unfortunately. But that’s why I think this age group is so awesome.”
When she was seven, Polasky first visited Disney World and instantly fell in love. Fifteen years later, she said, “I think I’m unusually into Disney for my age and (Pretty Princess Parties) seemed like a semi-healthy outlet for all that passion.”
After scrolling through her Instagram feed, she came up with the idea of starting the business in October 2013. The idea wasn’t novelty, but a few Google searches told Polasky this was a niche business worth trying in Duluth.
Last year, The Washington Post wrote about the business of “professional princesses,” saying that with “an average of $220 per party, even a proper princess can pull down $40,000 a year.”
Polasky isn’t charging as much as other professional princesses, and she only does parties on the weekends when she’s not working her other job.
Like her appearance at ColdStone, a lot of Polasky’s time is spent volunteering rather than charging by the hour. She visits the Duluth Public Library and was invited to be a part of the Christmas City of the North parade. What she is most passionate about, though, is volunteering at local hospitals.
“I was scared to start it because buying costumes is super expensive. Hundreds upon hundreds of dollars,’ Polasky said. “It was kind of a risk, but my parents, sisters and everyone was super supportive of it.”
Polasky gets all of her costumes custom made by a seamstress back in her hometown of Fosston, Minn. The average price of a total ensemble exceeds $700, and her Rapunzel wig alone has a $400 price tag.
Aside from pricy princess gear, there’s also some serious protocol when it comes to Disney copyright.
“You can use anything that was public domain before Disney,” Polasky explained. “Like, you know how ‘The Little Mermaid’ was a story by Hans Christian Andersen before Disney made a movie? That one’s fine.”
So she is not Ariel, but the Little Mermaid, and instead of being Belle from “Beauty and the Beast,” she calls that character Beauty. The stories of Cinderella and Rapunzel came before Disney, so they’re both exempt from Disney antipiracy.
“When I started, I just thought you could dress up as a character and whatever, but you get in so much trouble if Disney finds out,” said Polasky.
Polasky takes necessary princess precautions and continues to expand her collection of costumes and clientele and is even looking into hiring a second princess.
She said she tried to calculate how many parties she would have to do a year to make a stable income. But for now, she’s just “just happy I did it,“ and wants to continue for a long time.
“How many kids don’t get the chance to go to Disney World?” she asked. “You see how cute the kids are. They just freak out. They want to believe. You’re going to wish it was your job.”