So Long, Cinderella!: Powerful Princess Parties Celebrate Girl Power

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Like many parents, Fortune journalist and Yale graduate Erin Kelly did her best to make sure her daughter Lydia knew that she could be anything she wanted to be. Which is why, after she asked to play the floor-scrubbing “Cinderella” for the umpteenth time, Kelly thought, “There’s gotta be a better princess.” So Kelly began teaching her little one about an iconic, real-life princess: Cleopatra.  Her daughter loved it, Kelly began a Cleopatra Club at the local elementary school, and Kelly’s Powerful Princess business was born.


photo: Powerful Princess

Girl Power Party
A Brooklyn-based outfit with the motto, “Empowering our daughters with role models from history,” Powerful Princess throws princess-themed birthday parties and events for kids ages four and up with a real — as in, the rulers actually existed — girl power twist.

Revelers learn about the featured princess through crafts, games, stories and more. “I felt strength reading about these women, “ Kelly says of when she started researching princesses that might inspire young girls.  “It’s fascinating, the odds they faced, and what qualities they had that helped them overcome [those challenges]. The kids really love it… and they ask such sophisticated questions!” (In case you’re wondering: yes, boys are welcome. Kelly’s own son often assists at parties and finds the activities and learning “really fun.)


photo: Powerful Princess

Pick Your Princess
Powerful Princess currently offers three entertaining and educational themed birthday parties.  The Cleopatra Perfume Party, the Princess Victoria Book-Making or Doll-making Party, and the Princess Njinga of West Africa Mask or Drum-Making Party. Activities (depending on your royalty) range from wrapping “mummy” friends in toilet paper and crafting a “name” necklace using hieroglyphics (Cleopatra) to making volcanoes in the backyard for the Hawaiian Queen Liliuokalani, or creating marshmallow and toothpick Tower of London models in honor of Elizabeth I of England. (Kelly will also work to create an event for a client featuring other princesses or queens.)

Birthday parties are currently held at the Court Tree Collective event space in Carroll Gardens, and parents can choose to drop off their kids or stick around for the 1 and 1/2 hour of festivities. (Kelly is also open to hosting the parties at other locations.) The price for a birthday party at Court Tree Collective is $495 for eight kids, with a $20 fee for each additional guest; prices may vary if you wish to book a party at another location.


photo: Powerful Princess

More than Parties: After-school and Vacation Workshops
Your child doesn’t have to be celebrating a birthday to attend a Powerful Princess event. Kelly also hosts workshops ranging from one to three days in length during summer and public school breaks. Kids learn about real, compelling female rulers from around the world with the activities above, plus games, science projects and dress-up.

New princesses are always being added to the regal mix, including Nefertiti, Rani of Jhansi, Catherine the Great, Elizabeth I, Liliuokalani, the last Queen of Hawaii and Queen Christina of Sweden. Coming soon!: princesses from Jamaica and Syria.) Workshops are open to grades K-3 and take place in Kelly’s townhouse in Carroll Gardens, where there is also a backyard for outdoor play and even a “carefully supervised” trampoline. Workshops run $85 per day, and include snacks.

Starting in Fall, Powerful Princess will also be running once-weekly after-school classes at PS 58 in Carroll Gardens and PS 29 In Cobble Hill.  Check with the schools for details.

Had an exceptional kids’ birthday party experience? Tell us about it in the comments!

—Gretchen Kunz