Venessa Lewis spends her hours tending to royalty. Polishing crowns and planning regal parties is all in a day’s work. Think of a modern-day fairy godmother. That’s Lewis.
Lewis has devoted herself to training princes and princesses since 2015. The result is a kingdom of polished, professional characters that have brought joy to families.
Lewis heads the Petite Princess Company, formerly known as Rent A Princess, which was started in 2014 by then-LSU student Reagan May. Lewis says at the time a live princess party concept had not yet arrived in Baton Rouge, which gave the company instant popularity among parents hoping to host unique birthdays.
Before taking over for May, Lewis had already made a name for herself in children’s entertainment as Venessa the Louisiana Mermaid. Lewis bought herself a silicone tail—at first just for fun. But she soon became known locally and nationally as the Louisiana Mermaid, performing at birthday parties and events.
“It was fun, but it was also super fast-paced and super intrusive on my life,” she remembers. “So, I did it for a couple of years and then this opportunity presented itself for me to be able to stay within the children’s entertainment industry. I was older, I had kids, and I needed other people to actually do the entertaining and I’d manage it. … It was just a perfect dovetail in life to continue on that path.”
Since purchasing the company, Lewis has made it her mission to employ young, local talent who work well with children and love to entertain. This takes a little more work than waving a magic wand. Lewis has hand-picked all 20 members of her team to ensure they’re the right fit for the company and are able to connect with children. Each cast member undergoes extensive training, learning to sing storybook songs, get into character and transform their physical appearance to mimic fairy tale favorites.
Though some of these faces may look familiar from different movie adaptations, Lewis says the characters are from beloved fairy tales families have adored for years.
“I love that we’re growing that imagination of children in the area. That whimsy. That fantasy,” she says.
Birthday parties are the company’s bread-and-butter, but Lewis also looks for ways to add educational components into programming. Her characters have traveled to schools, camps and libraries to read stories and teach little ones about different animals, cultures and culinary items.
Lewis has also organized ticketed community events at venues like the Old State Capitol in which tickets sell out in mere minutes and waitlisted guests number in the hundreds. From teas to brunches, the storybook-themed events draw crowds from across the state.
In July, Petite Princess Company will host its first Fairytale Festival, which sold out in just a few weeks. For the first time, Lewis has joined forces with other local children’s entertainment like the Dinosaur Experience, Capital Superheroes and Trixie the Clown to collaborate on fun quests and activities for every kid to enjoy.
She says the Fairytale Festival was something she has always wanted to accomplish. Now that the event has sold out, she plans to keep moving forward with more entertaining parties, personal princess phone calls and other events to fill south Louisiana with even more magic—and grow the company to its full potential. petiteprincesscompany.com
This article was originally published in the June 2023 issue of 225 magazine.