Pi­rate & Princess Cou­ture


I re­cently had the op­por­tu­nity to chat with Ni­cole (“Nikki”), owner, designer, and seam­stress be­hind the on­line bou­tique cos­tume shop, Pi­rate and Princess Cou­ture. When she’s not creat­ing these whim­si­cal cos­tumes, Nikki—a life­long Dis­ney fa­natic—is a full-time mom, who, along­side her hus­band Mark, is busy rais­ing a won­der­ful set of Dis­ney nuts, Roseanna (13), Rus­sell (10), Riley (5), and Reese (1).

Kim – How did you be­come in­ter­ested in creat­ing your own Dis­ney cos­tumes?

Nikki – When my oldest daugh­ter, Roseanna was three or four, I found the Dis­ney bou­tique-cloth­ing com­mu­nity and fell in love. The prices of many of the items how­ever, were out of reach for our fam­ily bud­get. It was then that I de­cided to teach my­self to sew. I started by hand sewing with nee­dle and thread, and fi­nally my mother-in-law bought me my first sewing

ma­chine for Christ­mas that year. I spent hours learn­ing and prac­tic­ing. I found on­line PDF pat­terns to be most help­ful since they gave pic­ture-by-pic­ture in­struc­tions. The hand ma­chine guided ap­plique work that I have be­come fa­mous for came a few years later af­ter watch­ing some tu­to­ri­als and spending count­less hours per­fect­ing. Each year, I find my work be­comes bet­ter and bet­ter. I am blessed to have found suc­cess in a job that I love.

Kim – What is the first cos­tume that you made?

Nikki – The first items that I ever made by hand sewing with­out a ma­chine was a Jo Jo's Cir­cus set. The set that launched Pi­rate and Princess Cou­ture was an Alice in Won­der­land set full of ap­plique. I had cre­ated that set for a friend and peo­ple start­ing ask­ing for com­mis­sions, and my busi­ness was born.

Kim – How many to­tal cos­tumes have you cre­ated (for both your­self/oth­ers)?

Nikki – I have prob­a­bly cre­ated thou­sands of items over the years since I started sewing. We travel to Dis­ney yearly and each trip, each of my four kids has a wardrobe con­sist­ing of 18-24 out­fits de­pend­ing on how many days we are there. Gen­er­ally, my kids change out­fits once per day af­ter our mid-day break.

Kim – So you cre­ate a num­ber of dif­fer­ent cos­tumes for each day of your Dis­ney trip? How do you de­cide which ones to make?

Nikki – Yes, I cre­ate about two out­fits per day, per child. We gen­er­ally take a mid-day break and the kids change af­ter the rest time. Af­ter we book our trip, we de­cide as a fam­ily how many days we will have at each park. Each of the three older kids make "wish" lists of the themes that they want me to make. Most are Cast Mem­ber ones, but not all. Then they com­pare lists and nar­row it down from there. The de­ci­sion on themes comes solely from them. I wish that they gave me in­put as I have wanted to do a Tan­gled-theme for years but it has never made the cut. I love giv­ing them free reign though and see­ing their cre­ativ­ity.

Kim – What has been the most chal­leng­ing cos­tume you’ve made thus far? Why?

Nikki – I think the most chal­leng­ing cos­tumes have been the Fes­ti­val of the Lion King look-a-like sets. Those sets are so full-of-de­tail, and have so many pieces that go into each cos­tume. Each one of those sets has so many tech­niques from hand-paint­ing and ap­plique, to felt work and hand-bead­ing. It is fun to watch them come to life!

Kim – What do your chil­dren think of the cos­tumes? I'm sure they get a lot of at­ten­tion at Walt Dis­ney World! How do they han­dle it?

Nikki – My kids LOVE to dress up in cos­tumes. The two oldest are asked ev­ery trip if they want to give up the cos­tumes and they both pas­sion­ately say, “NO!” They LOVE all things Dis­ney and each hope to work for Dis­ney one day. Roseanna wants to be an Imag­i­neer. Rus­sell wants to work in at­trac­tions, and Riley wants to be a bus driver. Their ut­most love and re­spect for Cast Mem­bers is where the Cast Mem­ber cos­tumes I make come from. One day they said, “in­stead of dress­ing as char­ac­ters, can we dress as cast mem­bers?” That was the be­gin­ning of what I have be­come fa­mous for.

While we do not chose cos­tumes or make them to get at­ten­tion, that is a side ef­fect of them wear­ing the out­fits in the parks. Over the years, Cast Mem­bers have cre­ated so much magic for my kids, they have been lucky enough to have ride ve­hi­cles to them­selves (Star Tours was AWE­SOME ALONE) to ex­tra Fast­passes, to free ice cream, to meet-and-greets with the cast of Fes­ti­val of the Lion King, and so much more. We gen­er­ally go to Dis­ney ev­ery nine months or so (give or take) and the kids have started get­ting no­ticed now, Cast Mem­bers and guests look for the kids. The older kids es­pe­cially think this is the coolest thing ever, and they en­joy get­ting to know new peo­ple. We have formed some great friend­ships with Cast Mem­bers be­cause of this. They also learned last trip that their pic­tures are in some of the break rooms around Dis­ney of them in their CM out­fits with their look-a-like CMS. They think this is amaz­ing!

Be­cause the kids have got­ten such a fol­low­ing, I have cre­ated a fan ac­count for them on In­sta­gram (@my­fu­ture­cast­mem­bers), where I post daily pic­tures from some of our best Dis­ney mem­o­ries, as well as live posts when we are in WDW.

With as much magic as the CMS bring to peo­ple ev­ery day, our hope is that the kids show­ing their love for CMS through their out­fits bring the Cast Mem­bers some magic as well.

Kim – How long does the en­tire process take from de­sign to cre­ation?

Nikki – It re­ally de­pends on the item. Some things like tee shirts only take 2-3 hours, where things like the FOTLK sets take sev­eral days! The kids’ wardrobes are a true la­bor of love but I would not change a thing. They are only lit­tle for a short time and I want them to look back on these years and re­mem­ber a child­hood of great mem­o­ries, love, and magic!

When Nikki and her Dis­ney brood aren’t vis­it­ing WDW, they are plan­ning their next trip. “Dis­ney is what brings our fam­ily to­gether. We love plan­ning our trips; Fast Passes, din­ing, and of course, out­fits. We also love to watch Dis­ney movies to­gether, as well as play Dis­ney board games. Dis­ney is a way of life in our house­hold.”

If Dis­ney is your way of life and you want to add a lit­tle Dis­ney to your wardrobe (while sav­ing money), be sure to check out Princess & Pi­rate Cou­ture through the WDW Dis­count Club!

Pho­tos Cour­tesy of Pi­rates & Princess Cou­ture

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