Napanee Teen Turns Love of Princesses and Performing into Entertaining Business Venture
Shylah Hart has been singing and performing for her entire life. Around the Napanee area, she is known for her powerfully emotive voice, enchanting stage manner and her ability to connect with audiences of all ages.
Coming from a family of entrepreneurs (her family owns a farm as well as Hart Acres Grains) with a mom, Lisa Hart, who is also a musician and concert impresario, it makes complete sense that she would take her passion for entertaining and meld it with an innate entrepreneurial drive to begin her own business. In April of 2017, with help from her mom (she is under 18 and therefore cannot sign legal paperwork) Shylah began Hart’s Everlasting Party.
Essentially a ‘Princess’ business, Hart dresses up as popular animated princess characters, usually from the Disney films, and performs at children’s parties or other family-oriented events. She had done a similar function working for a related business based out of Kingston, but wanted to work more frequently and expand her territory and thus ventured forth on her own.
“It’s been good to have my mom on board because she has experience in business and also the music and entertainment side of things, but she also made sure that I had a solid business plan, had thought everything through and was really serious about this business, which I am. So I was lucky to grow up around professional entertainment, as well as within a family business and knew how much work was involved,” said Hart, who usually portrays either Snow White or the Ice Queen from the Frozen movie.
“Performing has always been something I wanted to do and I was also a kid who grew up on Disney movies, and as a kid I always dreamed of being a Disney princess. So when I learned that this was a thing, I knew it was something I had to do. And it’s so exciting meeting people and seeing how excited the kids get when they see you. It’s a great feeling and I think a lot more fun and interesting that working, say, at a fast food restaurant. Plus I am my own boss.”
Hart’s Everlasting Party princess a dash of cosplay panache to a kids’ party or community event, as Shylah explained:
“So I can come to birthday parties or events – whatever you want. At birthday parties there is a specific routine that happens. Everybody gets a ‘royal welcome,’ story time and some ‘royal ball’ games, makeovers, autographed colouring pages and photo sessions. And then if the parents would like the princess to stay for cake and opening the presents, that can also be arranged,” she said.
“Or princesses can come to events and walk around and take pictures and autograph things as they interact with children.”
At the moment, the roster of princesses is filled out by Hart herself and occasionally a friend or her sister. But she is planning to hold auditions to add more princesses and expand the number of places the company can be, and also its geographic reach.
“As the business picks up, I will be able to get more costumes for more characters and hire more princesses. And for those auditions princesses have to be very personable and animated. They have to be able to sing and have to already kind of look like a princess so when you put the makeup they would be believable as that particular princess,” Shylah said, adding that at some point down the road she would also like to add a male component to the roster of talent.
“We would like to get some superhero costumes for guys so they could entertain at parties for little boys or boys and girls together in the Napanee area as well. It would also be great to have some princes to work alongside the princesses and develop more of a story at the parties and functions they go to. It’s great when the characters can play off one another.”
Like a good ‘method’ actor, Shylah immerses herself in the part in the days leading up to an event.
“If I know I have a show, I will watch that particular movie every night that week, just to make sure I have all the proper mannerisms and be totally authentic in the way I speak, the way they move their hands – everything. I want it all to be as real to the character as possible, because the kids definitely notice if you’re not being true,” she explained.
So far, the biggest challenge has been just getting the word out to parents and community organizations that Hart’s Everlasting Party is on the scene. To launch the business, in early April she hosted a fundraising event for the Salvation Army – a special Mother/Daughter Tea for Mother’s Day – at Ellena’s Café in downtown Napanee.
“It’s been tough to get the word out that we’re here and to get people understanding what we’re doing, and how we do it. And another challenge is that I am young, so I don’t know a lot of people and people don’t know me. So I will keep doing public events, just showing up in costume for free and meeting people, handing out cards and letting people know what I am doing,” she said, adding that the more she is out in the public, the more interest Hart’s Everlasting Party has been getting.
“I really want to do this as long as I can. I do have plans to go to university, so in a couple of years I hope to have someone to pass this on to and they can help carry on the business, but I will continue to be involved as long as I can and help build the business. I think it’s going to be a part of my life for a while.”
Growing up in Napanee, she knows that the surrounding area is full of friendly supportive folks, a growing cadre of young families, as well as encouragement from other businesses and organizations.
“I love the community and the people. It’s a really good community and we do a lot of things to bring everybody together, like the downtown lights at Christmas, and all the different music events and festivals in town. I like the slower pace of life and being so close to the outdoors and the fresh air,” Shylah said.
“Lots of people I have talked to are very supportive and they are curious as to what it is and why I am doing it and I am happy to tell them, and then they pass the word along. Everybody I have talked to says this is a great idea to bring to Napanee.”
For more information visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/HartsEverlastingPartys/