Innisfil mom Reena Tagger-Saint Louis and her husband Edaire recently launched their own children's entertainment business, Dream Parties, and are hoping to help bring joy to the kids of Simcoe County after a difficult two years of COVID lockdowns and social distancing.
The idea for the business came about in September after Tagger -Saint Louis was having a difficult time booking a children's entertainer for her two-year-old's birthday party.
"I was literally chasing down people, I couldn't find anybody (vendors)," she said. "I was making up for the fact that she didn't get a 1st birthday (due to COVID)."
She says her kids are her inspiration for starting the business.
Tagger-Saint Louis and her husband have three daughters, aged two, four, and six. The family moved to Innisfil just over a year ago from Brampton.
"I am a mom, an avid Disney and Superhero lover, and most of all – looking to help make other moms’ and dads’ lives easier with a one-stop-party shop in Innisfil and the surrounding areas," she said.
Prior to the pandemic, the family was in the midst of planning their very first trip to DisneyWorld, along with a Disney Cruise. But that never happened.
As if running her own business and raising three kids wasn't busy enough, Tagger-Saint Louis also holds a full-time job working in business development at a Human Resouces firm.
"I don't know how I'm doing it," she laughed but hopes to implement more use of automation in her business to help save time when booking parties.
"That is my master plan," she said.
There are many entertainment companies out there, but Tagger-Saint Louis says her business is different from others in that she hires out her staff, as opposed to dressing up and performing herself.
"I didn't realize there is a whole community around this," she said. "Usually the people who start these businesses are the performers themselves, I'm a mom, I'm not a performer...it's really a different approach that I'm taking."
To help perfect her business model, she has been working with another children's entertainment company in the United States and getting personalized coaching about the industry.
Dream Parties is currently looking for local performers to join her team and has even reached out to local theatre companies to recruit talent.
Tagger-Saint Louis has invested in special character training for all her staff, who will be provided with tips and tricks on makeup, decorum, and etiquette when attending parties.
One of her goals with the business is to recruit a more diverse pool of talent.
"One thing I want to do differently is have diversity within the princesses, that's my mission," she said. "I am really looking to find local talent from diverse backgrounds... I think every little kid should be represented."
Some of the Disney princesses available for hire currently include Tiana, Jasmine, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Mulan and Moana.
In addition to princess and superhero character visits, Dream Parties also offers food rentals, with popcorn, cotton candy and snow cone machines.
Tagger-Saint Louis predicts her business will be most busy during the summer months when there tends to be a lot of birthday parties and celebrations.
With COVID-19 restrictions and those apprehensive of in-person events, Dream Parties also offers virtual packages for parties.
"If we shut down, I need to have a COVID proof strategy which will be the virtual," explained Tagger-Saint Louis.
Dream Parties had their first event over the weekend, a birthday party featuring the character Chase from the show, Paw Patrol.
Tagger-Saint Louis says she plans to keep the business within the Simcoe County area for now, with plans of expansion perhaps down the road.
"My whole goal is to partner with local businesses and refer off," she explained. She has been reaching out to local indoor play centres, and party rental decor companies to create partnerships.
Dream Parties is excited to be part of the Innisfil business community and recently joined the Cookstown Chamber of Commerce and Barrie Chamber of Commerce.
They will be at this year's Light Up Night in Cookstown on Nov. 27, with Disney's Olaf from the movie Frozen.
To learn more about Dream Parties visit their website here.