When you are a little girl, born into a family of dreamers, you play mermaid for hours in the bathtub. When you are an adult, you turn a child-like love of make-believe into your business.
Such is the case with Lauren Gardner of Waukee who turned her love of princesses and fantasy into a business, Storybook Adventures.
Storybook Adventures brings amazing characters to birthday parties, library events and, sometimes hospital visits. "It’s true," said Gardner. "I played a lot of make-believe as a kid. I still do. "Or I would be found curled up in the corner reading books about adventure and true love. Even today, I love being sucked into a good book or playing pretend with my daughter, Paisley. Some things aren’t worth growing out of."
Recently, Gardner was the centerpiece of a special Granger Public Library Saturday story time in which she played Anna, a character somewhat reminiscent of a character in the movie "Frozen." "We were delighted to have her visit," said Granger Library Director Ann Shilling. "The 40 kids who attended were enthralled from start to finish."
A theater major at Dixie State University, Gardner recently moved here from Utah with her husband (Prince Charming), Gavin, who attends pharmacy school at Drake University. "I did princess parties in Utah and didn’t want to stop just because I moved here, so I brought it with me." she said.
What made her think she could make money doing this? "Talking to my friends and family got me thinking about it, and when I started research on it, I found a whole ‘princessing’ community," she said. "I’ve had many "fairy godmothers" to help me on my way. No one more than my mother. She has supported me 110 percent. "I guess that’s what happens when you come from a family of dreamers."
In addition to the standard parties, Gardner and Storybook Adventures donates time and resources to children who are in need of some magic in their life due to illness or unfortunate events.
"We have visited chemo patients at Blank Children’s Hospital and did a benefit for a young girl with leukemia," she said. "Her birthday party was coming up and her friends and family wanted to do something special for her. So we provided all our princesses to a ball thrown in her honor."
Gardner also has a team of princesses recruited though Facebook and auditions. The firm’s characters include Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Belle, The Little Mermaid, Tinkerbelle, Pirate Princess, The Bravest Princess, Rapunzel, The Ice Princess, Alice in Wonderland, Arabian Princess and The Snow Queen is joining soon, Gardner said.
Future plans include a ‘grand ball," a dressy dad and daughter event, and more Blank Children’s Hospital visits.