The Liberty Princess Company: Providing Royal Service to Local Children
The Liberty Princess Company was founded to deliver messages about truth, goodness, and beauty to local children. Its volunteer employees, drawn from Hillsdale College’s student body, dress as princesses and other characters and appear at birthday parties, daddy-daughter dances, and other community functions.
The company began as a dream in 2015 for Gianna Marchese, ’17, now the College’s Social Media Coordinator: “I saw a need for strong female role models in the community. I thought it would be fun to get a group of women together, dress in costume, and reach out to children.”
Marchese recruited a few friends, bought a sewing machine, and began creating costumes. She advertised on campus and held auditions, looking for women “with the heart of a princess.” There was also training—and rules: no cell phones or other trappings of modernity are allowed in costume.
“Each party features a ‘coronation,’” says the company’s former student director Andrea Wallace, ’18. “We tell young girls that they are beautiful, special, and loved, because God made them that way.” The princesses also sing, dance, and give lessons in etiquette.
“A lot of local kids can’t afford to visit theme parks,” Marchese says, and Liberty Princess provides them a magical experience. Customers pay only what, if anything, they can afford, and all donations go toward building up the company. “We also aim to liberate girls from the idea that they aren’t beautiful enough,” Marchese adds. “We teach them that inner beauty is what matters.”
In April, the group led a one-day ministry event at the Salvation Army Family Store in Hillsdale. The event featured Bible stories, crafts, and activities such as fishing for heavenly treasures.
Current student director Ana Bogdanovich, ’21, describes the work as “high-stakes improv.” “We have to be knowledgeable,” she explains, “so we can handle the difficult requests that come our way, like reciting the names of the Little Mermaid’s six sisters.”
In recent months, Liberty Princess has added princes and science fiction characters to the mix. Forty students currently volunteer their time, and Marchese hopes to register the company as a non-profit.
“I love to watch my volunteers use this platform to teach children something valuable,” she says. “I feel like the fairy godmother now, helping to make dreams come true.”
Printed in the Spring 2018 Alumni Magazine