We had the good fortune of connecting with Ali Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ali, how do you think about risk?
The word “risk” is weighed in so much fear and trepidation, but to me risk is merely an opportunity outside of our comfort zone that requires us to make a choice even though the outcome is uncertain. But with great risk, comes great reward. Throughout my career of running my children’s entertainment company Princess & Me Parties, I’ve taken the same faithful and confident energy into each choice. I truly believe that if you stay true to your values and your vision, then everything will work out exactly as it should. My vision is to offer children a chance to connect with their favorite characters in a comfortable environment. After years of performing in the Disney parks and with numerous other party companies, I realized that what was missing was that connection. It wasn’t about the performer’s ego or the company’s expectations, it was about the child. If they were happy, that’s what mattered. It was risky because it was unheard of to put the child above the show, but I knew that was the right thing to do, so I kept that vision in mind as I created party activities and packages that were focused on making a child giggle, play, and open up, and you know what? It worked. After just a year in business I was higher ranked than 90% of the companies in most oversaturated market in the industry. I celebrated my success, but didn’t let it stop me from growing, learning, and taking new risks. I invested in new costumes, learned how to style hair, took marketing courses, and hired a team of the most beautiful, talented, and kind performers who believed in and echoed my company vision. The next big risk came out of request from parents for “something for the kids to do during the summer.” My phone demeanor is the same patient and understanding approach we take with the children at parties, so I find the parents open up on the phone just as much as the kids do at parties. Even though at the time we were purely a birthday party company, I listened to the parents and got to tinkering on a new idea – Princess Camp. A week long princess extravaganza of daily crafts, snacks, games, stories, songs, and dance parties brought to your backyard for your child and their friends. It was exciting and unorthodox – a private, customized camp – and it was a hit. Now we had a way to bring magic to families between birthdays. Just last year Princess & Me Parties was an innovator in the industry again. It was early March 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic was on the horizon. The panic in the voices of parents was palpable as they worried if their child’s birthday party would happen or not. So before lockdown restrictions were even being discussed, I created a safe new way to celebrate – Zoom Princess Parties. This option has helped our local Los Angeles families but has also helped us reach families all over the world as they come together to celebrate with a sprinkle of that fairytale magic. As my company continues to grow and evolve, I’m reminded that “risk” is in the eye of the beholder. Your dreams could be on the other side of that choice, so what’s really stopping you? Fear? Expectations? Ego? When you put that aside and have faith, you can do great things. The path is not a one way street. It changes and so do you. Stay open to opportunities, focused on your vision, and true to your values. Through the risks I’ve taken, I’ve grown my small business into something truly special that I get to share with the world and that is the greatest reward of all.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I treat people with compassion and understanding. I understand they have full lives, motives, and dreams. They have things they don’t share and reasons they open up about others. Time and again, I see how important it is to understand this. It’s kept my company going for years with an unheard of turnover rate. Actually, I would say that I don’t have a turnover rate, but rather a graduation rate when my performer will go on to perform on Broadway and in movies. When I worked for big corporations, I felt like a cog in the machine that was just getting worn down and would eventually get tossed aside. That’s not how anyone should be treated. I care for the people in my life and that means my performers too. When I get a five star review that comments on how “happy” the performer was at the party or full of life she was, I smile because I know I’m doing my part to help with that by encouraging them to keep pursuing their dreams outside of work. Those beautiful souls in my performers help the hard days where I’m overworked and exhausted. They bring out the best in these children they meet and remind me of why we do what we do.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would start early in the morning with a hike up to the Wisdom Tree on Hollywood sign hill where we would write some inspirational words in the journal there before getting a filling breakfast of gooey waffles at The Griddle. With full tummies we’d head into the heart of downtown LA to peruse the fabric district and get some pieces for new costumes, then continue out to Venice Beach canals for a walk in the sunshine. Lunch would consist of some kind of street fare or food truck finds that we nibbled on while looking for life in the tide pools at low tie. Dinner would have to be at my favorite Mexican restaurant in LA – Salsa & Beer. Their endless chips, bountiful salsa bar, and gigantic plates are delicious. For a little nightlife we’d swing by One Up on Ventura Blvd to play arcade games and then Davey Wayne’s for a groovy themed experience.The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
To the amazing performers that are a continuous source of light, wonder, and happiness for families all over the world, thank you. To my miraculous husband who has helped me stay balanced and given me so much love, thank you. To the thousands of families who have welcomed us into their hearts and homes to share in their celebrations, thank you. And to VoyageLA, thank you for continuing to support local business. We truly appreciate you all.