Today we’d like to introduce you to Kim Downey.
Kim, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
When my husband and I decided to get married, he wanted a present Mom. I left my job in corporate and took my experience in dance and the NFL to create a dance company. I wanted something nurturing to kids that was focused on the love of the sport/art instead of a focus on “competition”. We decided on a format that could set up in different cities running the programs for the cities. Later, our young twins – one of them had CHD (cardiovascular heart defect) and needed open heart surgery. While in the hospital we saw how the only thing that made her smile were the visitors of animals (therapy dogs), characters, etc. So, we decided to start the character side of our business, Ever After Princess, under the same umbrella of our LLC (Ever After Event Productions, LLC). The most important part of this side of the business to me was to give back. The other thing we did after her corrective surgery was start a non-profit called, “The Infinite Smile Project” that teaches kids ages 3-18 a life of service through acts of kindness and service projects in their community. We took this non-profit and partnered it with our company. Not only do we give back 10% of our profits to the non-profit but all our cast volunteer at different events in SoCal all year long. This can be children’s hospitals, homeless children, terminal children, anything they deem close to their heart that could use our characters for kids that day/event.
The first few years were tough trying to navigate a new business, get cities on board with a no-name company and I did it on my own. We got a few cities here and there, then Irvine asked us to open their new facility. once we did this successfully the cities came to us due to the accolades from a city that is known for their community programs and doing it well. That facility opened the day I had my twins in 2010. I continued to work and have the twins and then finally hired help in the office. After the surgery of my then 2.5 yr. old daughter in 2012 we opened the non-profit in 2013 finally being approved as a 501 c 3 in 2014. the character company came to be in 2015.
We now have over 40 instructors and cast working at one time, are in 14 different cities and 3 school districts, and partner on a regular basis with organizations to give back in the community through the non-profit. We use our “Princess with a Purpose” blog to teach little ones how to give back as young as 3 and our cast before coming on board is asked to donate time each year to a cause of their choice. By doing this we have been able to obtain some of the best, most talented cast and instructors around – because they are amazing people as well as talented individuals who value what we are doing. This weekend many of them are volunteering to help raise money at our event #SomethingSpecial for two young brothers who just lost both parents to cancer. They are truly amazing.
I now manage the two businesses and the non-profit from home balancing the workload, the cast and instructors and my now kinder-aged twins – to be that present parent we agreed I would be long before children. I am the philanthropy chair at our church, have worked to get all 3 kinder classes at their school involved in their charity projects when we do them which makes my kids very proud to be able to influence and inspire their classmates. Currently they are all collecting teddy bears for the event this weekend for people to come decorate and dedicate to kids who have lost a parent. They will come together with kids from orphanages and those from their school as one for this cause while raising money for this family.
In my free time (or what I like to call my free time!) I have been running half marathons and now getting my 6 year olds to start with fun runs for kids to influence a healthy lifestyle now that her heart is healthy.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
No. I started from scratch and along the way we were starting a family. I miscarried 4 times and ultimately did IVF while teaching classes. Since my job was based on my ability to move and dance it was hard to keep the business going while going through the personal issues. Once I had the children the balance was extremely hard with a sick child, her twin, and a husband that was traveling constantly for work. I was bound and determined to not show that things were hard behind the scenes and let our clients and customers see us decline in our level of service or quality because of things that were happening outside of work.
It was also difficult to find the path to connecting all three of my businesses/non-profit together. My dream was always to have a company where philanthropy was looped into most things we did but had a hard time figuring out how to make it work and make sense. It took a bit if time to find that right fit and have it make sense.
I spend many nights working until 1:00am once my kids are in bed at 8:00 and playing Mom and boss during the day when needed. As my kids are getting older they notice how much I work so I am now faced with the challenge of figuring out where the healthy balance is of still being that “present Mom” while continuing to grow and improve the businesses and non-profit.
So, let’s switch gears a bit and go into the OC Dance & Ever After Princess Events story. Tell us more about the business.
My company, Ever After Event Productions, is known as two entities: Ever After Princess Events and OC Dance Productions. The Infinite Smile Project is the non-profit we fuse into what we do.
OC Dance Productions: www.ocdanceproductions.com
Established in 2007, we held our first class in January of 2008. We started with me teaching every day at a few locations/cities and now are in over 14 cities and also school districts. We partner with various cities to run their dance programs for their communities cost-effectively in a nurturing environment. We pool these locations together and do semi-annual shows, do parades at Disneyland with Dance the Magic and are now introducing show teams that will perform in and around the area as well. We incorporate ways to give back to our students in the show team and also in our camps. We have been written up for our Kindness program we infuse into our camps each summer which has themes each day that support anti-bullying and a life of service. We now do over 150 classes a week in OC and LA counties.
Ever After Princess Events: www.everafterprincess.com
Established in 2015, we provide characters (actresses and vocalists) and face painters to parties, corporate and charity events across LA, OC and IE. We also do several events during the year working with less privileged children, homeless, terminal kids, special needs, and donate time to Children’s Hospitals doing bedside visits and family night appearances for the families.
The Infinite Smile Project (our non-profit we infuse) www.theinfinitesmile.com
Funded by the company and some donations, 100% of all donated goes to the projects and charities we support and everyone who helps volunteers. We have kid “Ambassadors” that make pledges to do acts of service and kindness each month that are simple, fun and give kids a way to give back within their power &age that are simple, effective, and build confidence. Each month we have a new theme and project and throughout the year host or attend several events to give back where the kids are hands on. Many of these projects are implemented into our summer camps for OC Dance and are also used monthly for each of our customers to use when they book Ever After Princess for an event to help teach their kids about kindness and how to give back again in a way they can comprehend – and from their idols/favorite princesses.
I am most proud of our staff. They are INCREDIBLE. We could hire anyone, but we hire those that are exceptional people. They have talent and are just hardworking, kind, giving and amazing human beings. I am beyond blessed they choose to work for me and I tell them frequently how much they are appreciated and not taken for granted. I am also very proud of the ways we give back. We don’t talk much about it but those parents that key into it are so thankful. The parents who see their kids on the last day of camp with all the kindness accolades they have done just from coming to dance or cheer camp makes the parents emotional. that is where I know we have made an impact of more than just dance or a party.
I think it is our customer service and again our staff that sets us apart. We are always commended on our customer service and how wonderful all our girls are to their kids and professional with the adults.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I would say the good luck is just that I was fortunate to have a supportive husband who believed I could do this and was on board from day one to create something different and amazing. The luck of being chosen to be on the NFL team which I believe gave me a lot of validity along with my dance background to those speaking to me that I was good at what I do – enough to be selected amongst hundreds to be on a professional team. The luck – or maybe bad not sure?- of having some really tough bosses in my past that showed me hard work, diligence, professionalism and showed me that being a leader is a privilege, not a right – and it must be earned with perseverance, hard work and patience.
What I saw was bad – my daughter’s life-threatening condition, turned into a positive. I developed the non-profit, involved my kids, their friends and classmates – even teachers, met so many amazing people, and now get to use my own non-profit to help others. I also learned to take more things in stride and not get upset over many things that can and do go wrong in a business. As long as it isn’t a major 911 and people are healthy and safe, most things are repairable without too many dramatics and fireworks.
- Characters: $169 60 minutes , $229 90 minutes with face paint, $189 60 min vocalist
- Swimming mermaids: start at $229 60 minutes
- Dance classes anywhere from $10-$14/class (depending on location and session length)
- Website: www.everafterprincess.com ocdanceproductions.com theinfinitesmile.com
- Phone: 714-389-1933 (for all three)
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Instagram: @ocdanceproductions @ever_after_princess @infinitesmileproject
- Facebook: @ocdanceproductions @everafterprincessevents @theinfinitesmile
- Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/ever-after-princess-events-tustin
Tyron Jackson (fairy photo and Albertson’s photo) . The rest are Ever After Event Productions, LLC