Best friends, Karrie Mueller and Laura Byrne met while studying at Florida State University in 2000.
Though they lost touch for a few years following graduation with Mueller working for Walt Disney World as a princess and Byrne becoming a television reporter, the Tampa women eventually found their way back to each other.
On April 23, they officially launched their new business, Parties With Character in South Tampa.
"Laura and I had been talking about doing something together, a party planning business because we love throwing events," Mueller said.
The idea for the business, which brings storybook characters to life for birthday parties, celebrations and corporate events, came to Karrie when she gave up Facebook for lent.
"Around the same time, my child's friends who are 3 , their parents knew my background (as a Disney princess) and asked me 'Can you do this or do you know how to do this," Mueller said.
Byrne did a Google search and found "There weren't any strong people in the immediate South Tampa area."
Two to three months later, the business partners had a website, staff and started booking business.
"It was almost too quick," Byrne said. "Our website didn't go live until the first or second week of May, before that it was strictly through our Facebook."
Mueller used the experience she gained from owning her own web company and the two moms got to work.
"You can find companies out there that say they offer party princesses, but we have all music theater professionals who are up and coming as our talents," Byrne said. "They sound, act and have the background to look and feel like real princesses."
The characters really put on a show, dressed in custom costumes and wigs that take several months to make.
"It's really been a fun experience, seeing the looks on these kid's faces, even the little boys, they adore the characters," Byrne said. "When kid's have that experience with their favorite character they talk about it all day."
Another important aspect of their business is teaming up with other small businesses who offer similar party type services.
Parties with Character will be at the Tampa Convention Center from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on July 17 for meet and greet and photo opportunities with the Ice Sisters, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Beauty, Frog Princess and Little Mermaid.
They are located at 3225 S MacDill Ave. Visit partieswithcharacter.com or call (813) 800-9474.
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