Twin sisters Laura and Rachel Clift—sophomores at UT—have used their theater training to create a children’s party business called Neverland and Company.
The Clift sisters grew up in Maryville, Tennessee, spending their days watching musicals and acting out their favorite fairy tales. As they got older, they began dressing as original fairy characters and attending Renaissance festivals with friends.
They quickly realized they loved to work with children.
“When we would go to these festivals we would get mobbed by kids. It was so much fun just talking to them and making them believe in something,” Rachel said.
She had an idea that would allow her and her sister to combine their theatrical training and love for children into a business.
Laura was on board immediately: “We tried to create that theater environment within a job.”
In February 2015, Neverland and Company was born. Rachel, Laura, and their friend Olivia Martin, who will be a freshman at UT in the fall—all costumed as children’s favorite princesses—began offering entertainment, crafts, and “a little bit of magic” for children’s parties.
Now the sisters find themselves working one or two parties a weekend, scheduling them between classes, theater rehearsals and shows.
Rachel said starting a business has been a real learning experience. Aside from toning their acting skills, they have also discovered other interests such as wig styling, sewing, and web design.
“A lot more went into starting the business than we first thought,” Rachel said.
In October, the sisters began researching and creating costumes, building a website, maintaining Facebook and Instagram accounts, and working on a scheduling calendar for booking parties. They say this business experience will help them show future employers their sense of determination and the success it has brought them.
They also hope that their success inspires the children they come in contact with through Neverland and Company.
“We love working with kids because they are always dreamers, and we are trying hard to be good role models for them,” Rachel said, adding that she and her partners also try to demonstrate “good princess values” like trust, respect, and honor.
“When we are dressed as characters, these kids want to be like us,” Rachel said, adding that a recent experience showed them they were on the right path.
A young girl at a party approached Rachel, who was in costume, and told her she, too, wanted to be a princess. Rachel asked her why, expecting the little girl to say “so I can be pretty” or “so I can find a prince.” But instead the youngster said “I want to be brave.”
Rachel and Laura hope to continue Neverland and Company while finishing their degrees in theater at UT.
For more about the sisters and their company, see the Neverland website, neverlandandcompany.com.
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