Princess Parties by Mary is in the business of bringing joy to children and adults in the Morristown area, but it has been an atypical route to get to this point.
Mary Katherine Rogers was scrolling through Instagram a couple of years ago when she saw someone in an intricate mermaid costume. It turns out there is a thriving community dedicated to the aquatic legend and with her interest piqued, she purchased mermaid regalia and began to engage with that community.
“Shortly thereafter, I had one mermaid picture posted online, and I had a friend told me Ripley’s Aquarium was hiring mermaids. And I didn’t have any idea they had mermaids- so I went and applied and got the job.”
She started to do shows at Ripley’s, and she began to notice that many of the girls in her favorite mermaid group on Facebook also participated in princess parties, wherein one or more “princesses” in elaborate costumes make appearances at events such as birthday parties, corporate events, tea parties and more. After a visit to Disney, and with her experience entertaining guests at Ripley, Mary Katherine was inspired towards a more royal approach to costuming.
“I thought, ‘I could do that,’” she said. “I never considered myself much of a Disney fanatic, but it seemed like fun.”
“Frozen,” a global Disney hit that centers around two princess sisters, was (and still is) hugely popular, so Mary Katherine acquired some “Anna” and “Elsa” gear and started to learn how to portray the animated characters. She is a self-taught expert in make-up, so much of the required work to represent the characters at a high level came naturally to her. One thing led to another and now Mary Katherine stays busy dressing up as an ice queen, a summer princess, a belle of a ball, a mermaid princess from an underwater kingdom or any number of inspired characters.
“It blew up,” she said. “I started advertising on Facebook, and I started working with people and putting myself out there; now it seems like every weekend I have a princess party.”
Mary Katherine is expanding the business and is starting to sub contract work to other women to meet the demand for these events.
Always networking and looking for opportunity, she reached out to the Rose Center to see if they could use her unique service and it wasn’t long before she was booked to appear at a tea party, with discussions being held for more events.
Instagram and Facebook has been instrumental in generating the buzz around Princess Parties by Mary. Lydia Romeike, an area photographer and one of Mary Katherine’s best friends, has been key in creating the images that populate the business’s social media pages.
“She has been my friend for years now,” she said. “I am so thankful to have her because she considers me one of her creative outlets. I’m lucky and blessed to have her do my photos.”
It takes a lot of work to be represent these princesses properly. In addition to the not inconsiderable investments into high quality costumes and the hours and hours of practice getting makeup and hair/wig techniques on point, Mary Katherine has been putting in the work to make sure her vocal impressions and physical mannerisms are correct for her characters.
“It’s tricky to learn- heaven help me if I have to do a party as (a princess inspired by) Snow White,” she said, explaining the constant, high-pitched vocal range was difficult to maintain.
Mary Katherine says being around children as a princess is the best part about running her business.
“Mary Katherine is a stranger, but if you’re a princess they run up to you and hug you immediately,” she said “It’s just the best feeling- you get to experience the purity and kindness of a child. It’s the best medicine.”
Between freelancing as makeup artist and her princess party business, Mary Katherine has been able to shed the 9 to 5 lifestyle to pursue her passions. Her mother passed away a few years ago of illness and the experience gave Mary Katherine a keen sense of the value of the time. She said she thinks her mother had dreams that were unpursued and found herself unfulfilled in the drudgery of day-to-day life.
“I think she wished so much that she had slowed down and enjoyed life a bit more,” she said, encouraging people to pursue their passions and goals. “When you’re doing what God has created you for, it brings you joy. You wake up every day excited. Find what you love and bust your butt at it, and you’ll be able to make money.”