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!