Magical Monday Feature – Karina (@ChasingChildhood)

To a Disnerd, mouse ears are an essential accessory for roaming the parks. And although Disney does a fantastic job of keeping up with trends and offering their ear lovers a great variety of color and style, it is no surprise that the most highly complimented ears are ones made by a small shop! You can find pretty much any theme, character, style, or color that can perfectly fit your exact preference to how you want to rock your mouse ears. And if you’re looking for some of the most sparkly and whimsical pair of ears, I have just the shop you can go to – Chasing Childhood!

Karina is the face behind the beautiful products made at Chasing Childhood but she also has the help of a tiny team which includes Katie, who helps out once a month to help with prep work, and her husband, who helps her process orders. The way the shop came about was a “perfect storm“, Karina explains, “we had just bought our first home and moved away. I had just had my 3rd child and I had a 30th birthday trip coming up. Two things happened: I couldn’t find any ears that I fell in love with, and I couldn’t afford any that I did find. So I gathered my supplies, set myself a budget of around £10 ($12) and set to work! After my trip I shared what I had worked on, on twitter and people loved them! And that was it. I committed £50 and 3 months, and here we are!

It is no surprise that one of the biggest driving forces for her and her shop is her obsession with Disney. But she also knew that she needed to stay home for her kids to care for them. And that inspiration drives her to this day! Although she loves that she can incorporate Disney into her work life and be able to be at home to care for her kids, she now has more people supporting her shop that she feels as though she also needs to keep the magic alive for them as well!

And my oh my has she kept the magic alive. From her first days of starting the shop to what Chasing Childhood looks like now, it’s almost unrecognizable! Her goals were small when she first set out, and now Karina’s desk spans across two rooms, shipping out about 100 items a month on average. She also offers a wide range of accessories including headbands, hair clips, and crystallized vintage bags. Her ears of course are what started it all and she offers over 100 different ear styles! WHAT! Overall though, Karina loves the feeling of focusing on one customer at a time to create products and is even considering offering her followers a subscription box since her followers keep asking her for her to do something of the sort.

With each new product she makes, she is continually inspired by Disney films, parks, and Disney themes and usually has a list of designs that she is working through. But some styles that she makes just come from a color palette. Early on Karina found that pastel rainbow was “her style” and she has ran with it since! But that’s not the only thing that inspires her: “Sometimes I’ll see a new dress release and think ‘I can make something to work with that’ or I’ll find an obscure item or character and base some ears off that. It’s constantly evolving and changing.

It’s no surprise that with each new thing she comes up with, her followers (including myself) are constantly blown away. Karina even shared with me that that is actually the biggest highlight of her small shop career – the community that built itself around the beautiful things that she makes! “It blows my mind that people support what I do. My customers, followers, and friends are just incredible and have been a real driving force behind my success.

But no small shop is without it’s complications. Especially in the world of ear-making where more and more shops are opening daily and not all of them seem to have the same integrity as others. In fact the biggest challenge that Karina and Chasing Childhood faced was that she “had a customer buy ears, copy them and open a shop. It was really hard. I was getting dozens of messages a day from people asking me if I’d seen it. It really affected me mentally for a long time. I had to train myself to stay in my lane and add blinders. There are so many incredible jeweled & embellished ear shops out there. We all have a very unique style, but the end product, although using the same materials, looks completely different. I know that I am one person and cannot fulfill the demand that is out there alone, there is room for everyone, but it’s so important that we are true to ourselves and our customers!” Honestly I think her take on this aspect of her shop alone shows her own integrity to this business industry she is in!

With such a high level of integrity and respect for her shop and others, Karina has made Chasing Childhood her full-time job, and if you have seen her stories, her kids make frequent appearances running around in the background of her stories. Between running the shop, taking care of her kids, homeschooling them, and just life in general, she doesn’t have a lot of time for much else. However, she did buy Animal Crossing at the start of lockdown and has started playing it as a way to take a step back and relax for a bit!

Especially with how uncertain times seem right now, Karina talks of the importance of finding these small things in everyday life that bring joy. “Seek them out and embrace them. That morning coffee. That minute of deep thought. The cool breeze on a hot day. We can’t think bigger picture right now, so refocusing on things we can control is important.

Often during these times I think people find something creative to do or may even start to do more of something that they were already really good at! And maybe that can even lead them to start a shop of their own! As a reliable shop owner herself, Karina encourages others to find what they love and embrace it: “If you love your product it will show and others will see it too. Stay in your lane, it’s easy to get distracted by what others are doing, make sure you focus on what YOU do best. Find your people, the ones who will help build you back when you feel broken, and celebrate with you when you are flying high. Make sure they aren’t ‘yes’ people – you need people who will tell you if things are bad or you are out of line. Listen to your community, their voice is the difference between success and failure.

And if you want to support and follow along with Karina and the fun that is Chasing Childhood, be sure to give her a follow! Her Instagram is @ChasingChildhood and her website is www.chasingchildhood.co.uk. If you want to purchase from her, she usually opens the last Friday of each month at 7pm PST (UK) for general release but with COVID, things have been rather uncertain. However, she updates the link in her bio with the her next opening date.


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Real Life Princess Tiana’s

I have wanted to make a post for a while now about why Tiana is the best princess and my personal favorite. For months I have written this post in my head and wanted to find a way to not just make it sound like me talking about my favorite princess. Tiana is strong, independent, very hard working and has truly inspired me to keep working hard for my own dreams. She has taught me that even when I think I might be doing enough to accomplish my dreams, there is always something more I could be doing.

However, in light of everything that has been going on with the Black Lives Matter movement, I have found a new direction for this post. One that praises Tiana, but also supports some of the incredible and beautiful black women who truly embody all that Tiana is.


When you watch Princess and the Frog, you can’t help but notice the massive difference in possible opportunity that Lottie has versus Tiana. Lottie lives in a mansion while Tiana lives in a rather small and cramped house. Lottie is given things while Tiana has to earn things. You see where Tiana grew up, you see how she grew up, but you also see her trying her best to rise above that. In the first scenes alone, you see just how hard Tiana works to make her and her dad’s dream come true of opening a restaurant. And although she may be loved and accepted by Lottie, Lottie still seems rather oblivious to her best friend’s struggles because she is too focused on climbing the social ladder.

Not to mention that not everyone believes that Tiana can overcome her adversity. When Mr. Fenner and Mr. Fenner show up to Lottie’s ball with the original intention of giving Tiana paperwork to sign to finally get her restuarant, they tell her that she has been outbid. Further their response is to tell her that it was probably best that she was outbid because “a little woman with [her] background would have had her hands full running a big business like that.” I think it’s pretty clear as day that they don’t mean to say that she isn’t business savvy enough but rather that her being black somehow hinders her ability to succeed. Every time I watch that scene I can’t help but scowl.

But as we know, by the end of the movie she makes her dream happen. And it wasn’t because she married some prince that solved her problems. No – it’s because she put in the work. (And it might have helped that Louis helped with a more “persuasive” approach..)

Like all Disney princesses, Tiana is a role model to many but especially to the community she represents. That being said there are so many beautiful and hard working black women in the Disney community who are being real life Tiana’s and I wanted to share a few of their stories.


Cree Michelle Rogers

About her:

I am 28 years old and I live in Georgia! Follow me on Instagram (@Brown.Suga.Outlaw) and Facebook (@Brown.Suga.Outlaw). TikTok: @brown.suga.outlaw

Her story:

As a little girl, I didn’t have very much representation. While there were black characters, a majority of the time they had only one gender represent both parties. So I ended up identifying with the tan girl or the one that wasn’t blonde. I didn’t realize it when I was younger, but I thought white was the default. I believed that white people could be anything and the only way I could live out my crazy daydreams was to be someone completely different than who I was. It inadvertently messed with my self-esteem. I’ve matured passed that to a certain point, but it hurts to look back and think about all the time I wasted wanting to be something that not only I would never be, but something that was so systemically ingrained into everyday life. Once I finally began to love my blackness, I decided to cosplay predominately black characters to bring awareness to what characters are out there for little girls that might be suffering like I did.  I believe it is hard enough being a person. Everyone has insecurities. But to add on to that with racists notions of what the ideal beauty should look like, is something that I personally want to end for girls and boys of color growing up now. 

What is your favorite part in Princess and the Frog that features Tiana and why?

My favorite part in the Princess in the Frog is when Tiana and Naveen are hungry in the swamp and she’s fighting her urge to eat a bug. Her line “There is no way I am kissing a frog and eating a bug, on the same day” ALWAYS cracks me up!


Elantrice

About her:

In the Disney community I am known as Diz Thru Brown Eyes.  I am a soon to be 48 year old from Georgia. I started my blog (www.dizthrubrowneyes.com) in 2011 upon realizing there were a limited number of Black voices in the Disney online community.  I wanted others to view Disney through my eyes.  I share my travels to Disney Parks and merchandise finds on Instagram (@dizthrubrowneyes) and Twitter (@DizThruBrwnEyes).

Her story:

I was asked to share my story, which is hard to know where to begin or what to include.  I grew up in a small town in Georgia that had its prejudiced people and ways.  My parents, who have been married for over fifty years, shielded my sister and I from some it.  My town’s downtown area would close on Wednesdays at 12pm because hundreds of years before that is when slaves were sold. Proms were segregated until my senior year which made CNN headlines. Getting older, you notice racism more. I was asked to leave a temp position because I came to work one day with braids, followed around in a store, and hearing comments like “you talk like a white person”. Black Lives Matter is more than a fad. We are talking about life and death. I desire to feel safe, valued, and seen as an equal.  

What makes Tiana the perfect role model for girls, young adults, and grown women of the black community?

Every little girl deserves to see someone that looks like them in books, on television, and in movies.  Princess Tiana helped to fulfill that.  She was determined to be self-sufficient and achieve her goals.  Even when she was turned into a frog, Tiana kept going.  Tiana demonstrated strength, intelligence, resourcefulness, patience, and so much more.  As a huge fan of Princess Tiana, I want to see more of her on merchandise and at events.  In 2017, I attended Tiana’s Riverboat Party held in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.  It was like an intimate party with her and Prince Naveen.  Princess Tiana deserves so much more and so do I.


Tala

About her:

My first name is Crystal, but I prefer to go by my middle name, Tala! I am 21 years of age and I currently live in Florida. My main social is @talalovesyou on Instagram. I also have an art account (@talalovesyouart).

Her story:

I was born in a mixed family. My mother is middle eastern and my father is African American. When it comes to my appearance, people see me as a black woman. But since my parents are divorced, most of my upbringing has been with my mother.

Because of this, I don’t act entirely the same way as a person of color.

This has created an ongoing challenge for me. Since childhood, I had a hard time fitting in with my peers. White people would not accept me because of my skin color. And black people would not accept me because of my “white” mannerisms. So, I have always felt like an outsider and have had to work hard to find my place. This has encouraged me to depend and rely on myself to achieve my goals.

What do you think is the best one-liner that Tiana has in the movie and why?

As Tiana learned from her father, “Fairytales can come true. You gotta make em’ happen, it all depends on you.” That is why I feel connected to Tiana. She believed that she could create her own happily ever after through her hard work. I hope that my story helps others to learn that is great to have help from others, but you cannot rely on anyone to hand you your dreams. You have to put in the work and forge their own path.

I am hoping for a future where everybody has equal opportunities, regardless of where they came from or the color of their skin. I am hoping to live in a society where we are not judged by our appearances, but accepted for who we are.


Lorraine (Princess Indigo)

About her:

My name is Princess Indigo and I am a fairy living in the human world. As a human, I am called Lorraine and I am 40 years young. I live in Los Angeles, CA and have lived here my entire human life. Follow me on Instagram (@PrincessIndigosPalace) and Facebook (Princess Indigo’s Palace).

Her story:

I have always loved fairy tales with “happily ever after” endings. They provided an escape for me when I needed it. I was a pretty happy child…at first. I went to a mostly white school until the 3rd grade. I was one of a handful of Black, Mexican, and Asian kids. I had friends, I had fun, and I don’t remember experiencing any racism at that time. But then my mother was laid off from her well paying job. We had to move. I had to go to a different school. This school was full of black children. I was thrilled to see an entire playground with children that looked like me. But I soon found out, we spoke completely different languages. The children teased me for not sounding or acting like them. I cried. Nearly every day I begged my mom to change my school. While she wanted to, she could not. 4th grade turned me into a shy reclusive kid. I assumed something was wrong with me because I was so different and none of the other kids would talk to me. 

After that awful year, we moved again and my school changed. This school was about half black and half Mexican. While the teasing stopped, I still didn’t have many friends. I stayed to myself, afraid that if I spoke too much, I would be “found out”. However, I do remember an incident in which I was invited to play with children and we were picking characters we would pretend to be. I announced I would be “the princess”. Another child told me I couldn’t be a princess because “princesses aren’t black”. At the time, I was unfazed and I simply stated that my mom said I could be whatever I want to be and I wanted to be a princess! They didn’t argue but I wasn’t invited to play again after that. I remembered the incident years later and was saddened – not because they left me out after that, but because the child that believed princesses weren’t black…..was another black child….. A beautiful black girl, truly believed, that as a black person you couldn’t even PRETEND to be a princess. That still breaks my heart. 

By 7th grade I made friends, or rather a group of Mexican girls befriended me. I was SO happy to have friends I could totally be myself with and they didn’t seem to think I was “different” or “weird”. In High School I made more black friends but I always had more Mexican friends because I wasn’t really into a lot of things that were considered “black” – the more I look back though, it wasn’t that I didn’t like “black” culture, I simply didn’t bother to follow POPULAR culture. Even today I don’t know who a lot of famous people are. I don’t really listen to the latest music, or watch the latest TV shows. I don’t even watch movies unless they are Disney movies! I stay close to my fairy tale things because that’s what make me happy.

As an adult, I have found my happiness in dressing up as a princess and other fairy tale characters for kid events and parties. Aside from the fact I love doing it, I feel it is my duty as a princess to be there for little brown girls and show them that there ARE magical beings that look just like them. I also remind all children that they possess the magic within them along with the power to make any and ALL of their dreams come true! I have been doing princess parties off and on for little girls on weekends for almost 14 years now. 

When Disney announced “The Princess and the Frog” would feature their first black princess I was ecstatic! I have always loved Disney Princesses and now they had one that looked like me! I went on opening night to the midnight showing with friends. I loved the movie and I still do… despite Tiana being a frog for most of the for most of the film… After the movie came out I was booked nearly every weekend for a over a year. It is always so wonderful to see a little girl’s eyes light up at the sight of a princes that looks just like her. Representation is SO important for black children. Black children often see the worst aspects of their community in the media. Things have changed a lot since I was young but the issue still remains.

Why is Tiana an inspiration to you?

I love Tiana as a character. She’s sweet, hard-working, goal-oriented, driven, intelligent, beautiful and more. She’s the kind of woman that even if she had not married a prince, she would still  have reached her goal. I have big dreams, too. I didn’t find a prince. But I know if I continue to work toward my goals, I will reach them. Tiana has her resturant, and some day I will have a brick and mortar palace. I have come so far. And as Tiana, would sing: “There ain’t nothing gonna stop me now! I’m almost there!”


Original design : Hannah Alexander Artwork
Photographer: @aoisenko

Maria (CocoaSugarCosplay)

About her:

I’m 31, and a resident of central Pennsylvania. The best place to find me is on Instagram (@CocoaSugarCosplay)!

Her story:

When I was 11, my family moved from our diverse Philadelphia suburb to a small town in rural Pennsylvania. It was (and is) a predominantly white town. I was one of six black students in my graduating high school class, pretty much guaranteed to be the only black person in a classroom at any given time. That includes staff (my mother was the second black person hired by the school district, and my aunt was the first). It was an adjustment for sure. The people in the town were so unused to diversity that I doubt they realized how they sounded – it was fairly commonplace to hear things like “you speak so well” or “but you’re one of the good ones” or “oh, well I don’t mean you – you’re not ghetto”.

I’ve had kids ask me if I got warmer in the summertime because “black absorbs heat”, and a teacher declare to the class that “black people run faster because they have an extra bone in their feet” (mind you, I am terrible at sports and run a 12 min mile). There’s so much more I could say (and don’t get me started on hair). This is just a little of what I experienced, but don’t get me wrong – I had a happy upbringing. What a lot of white people don’t realize is that this is just everyday for us. You learn to accept it and live your life accordingly. I am blessed to have people I can vent to and laugh with that understand. But not everyone has this. That’s why I think it’s important to talk about this type of experience – a million microaggressions across a lifetime.

These past weeks, I’ve attended local Black Lives Matter protests. I didn’t expect much turnout in our small white town. I’ve never been so happy to be wrong. The community showed up in a way I hadn’t anticipated, and the amount of white allies in the crowd was really heartening to see. This movement feels different – I feel like our country is prime for change. We’ve already seen real tangible gains from this movement and we can’t stop. I urge people to continue this momentum. At my core, I am a hopeful person, and I truly believe that if we keep this up, keep this passion for justice, we can continue to make lasting change for the better for black lives in this country. 

What do you think Tiana would be doing to support the BLM movement if she was living in 2020?

With her work ethic and leadership ability, I see Tiana as a protest organizer. She’d be there coordinating with volunteers, ensuring the safety of the protesters, making sure that people stay hydrated, and wear their masks.


I hope you all have found value in these ladies stories and keep encouraging them and others to make their dreams come true! The fight for equality isn’t over yet!



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A blog featuring Tiffany Alva, a Disney influencer on Instagram

Magical Monday Feature – Tiffany (@TomorrowlandTiff)

Welcome back to another Magical Monday feature! These posts are to showcase some people and small shops who are bringing the best doses of pixie dust to your feed. Today, the feature goes to Tiffany (you might know her as Tomorrowland Tiff!). She is an influencer whose main focus is Disney and brings a lot of positivity and life to her posts. I had the pleasure of interviewing her to learn more about her, her page, and her life outside of Instagram!


Tiffany started her Instagram back in 2017. She remembers the time vividly because around the same time she was about to get married and she was also following a bunch of Disney accounts. When seeing these accounts, she couldn’t help but be envious of the lives they were living and she wanted to be just like them! However, a few things got in her way: “I didn’t think I had enough friends, I didn’t think I was outgoing enough, I didn’t take pretty enough photos, and frankly I just didn’t think I could do it.

But then one day, she asked herself “Why CAN’T I do this?” And from there magic unraveled!

She converted her personal account into primarily a Disney account and started sharing park tips, tricks, and her personal style. Soon after, she started gaining some traction in this hobby she created so she invested in a beginner camera and began meeting friends in the Disney community. However, it became apparent to her that this wasn’t just a hobby anymore!

Tiffany’s collab with Smashmallow

Over the past three years, her page has changed quite a bit. From sharing park tips, occasion Disney fashion, and working with small shops, her page started evolving into her sharing more about her personal life and style. Although she loves every aspect about her page thus far and she still loves posting about Disney tips and style, she now has started feeling more comfortable sharing other aspects of her life!

She’s even had her fair share of trial and error to bring new types of magic to her followers: “I had a couple different failed blogs in the beginning. I had a random blog by myself. [Then] I remember starting a blog with a friend that didn’t work out and I was devastated at the time. [Also] I remember starting my first podcast ‘Tomorrowland Talks’ which had an accompanying blog. I started by interviewing my friends which was fun at first, but I quickly ran out of inspiration. Then almost a year ago I began working with my friend Carolyn on our podcast, The Disney Download, which has been so much fun. I’ve been able to share our work through my page while still sharing my personal style and the things I enjoy. Working on the podcast has been an amazing experience because although it took a few fails to get me here, I have found what’s working for me. It’s also motivated me to have new experiences that I will always remember. Even though some of the things I tried didn’t work out, I learned so many valuable lessons from it. I’ve also learned what I do and don’t like doing.

As she has navigated through the ups and downs of her page, she still draws a ton of inspiration from one of the founding aspects of her page – Disney! “I love creating magical looks because it makes me happy and I hope that from time to time it inspires others.” She also makes sure that when she creates content, that she puts a lot of planning into her posts. Whenever she takes pictures in the park, she brings multiple outfits and tries to keep finding new spots to take pictures or new poses to try. From there she can plan content out as far as 5-6 weeks in advance, with 4-5 different posts a week prepared! It may seem like a lot of work, but to her it’s like putting together pieces of a puzzle to figure out how to plan to post her content.

Tffay’s collab with Danielle Nicole Handbags

Clearly, Tiffany puts a lot of work into her page and she has seen so many rewarding things come out of running her page like working with top brand names like Smashmallow, Toms, Aldo Shoes, Petunia Picklebottom, Papyrus, Danielle Nicole Handbags, and Couture Kingdom. But none of those compare to the real highlight of her page – creating genuine friendships! “I am so grateful for the people I have been able to connect with because of my account. Going to events has been such a highlight for me because I get to meet familiar faces that I see on Instagram. Dapper Day is one of the ones that come to mind because it’s an opportunity to meet up with new/old friends and see everyone’s creativity shine!

With all this work though, Tiffany does admit that sometimes finding a balance can be a challenge for her. “When I created my account I jumped right in with both feet. Sometimes I need to give myself space to relax and not force myself to go to the parks or take photos. Sometimes I feel like I am missing out on an opportunity if I don’t show up, but in reality, I need to give myself the chance to rest. I just love what I am doing so much, but I need to remember to take a break, too.

Especially when running her page isn’t her only priority! Tiffany also works as a Marketing Director, is a wife of three years, and is a loving dog mom. She takes the time to foster all of these relationships, and you can regularly see this part of her life in her Insta-stories. Trust me when I say that her dog, Tofu, makes frequent appearances and she is adorable! Since her and her husband live in San Diego, they are also able to do a lot of fun things together outside of the parks like going to different dog parks, scoping out wineries, and hanging out with friends.

Tiffany’s collab with Aldo Shoes

Obviously a lot of those regular activities have been put on hold since quarantine has started. But from what I have seen, Tiffany has always remained a ray of sunshine on her feed and she gives her own input on how she goes about her daily life: “I know it can be hard to stay positive! As someone who has struggled with anxiety forever, I have a tough time staying positive. One thing I have learned lately is that there are so many things we can’t control. It’s important to let go of those things and focus on what you can do. From there, just know you have done your very best and that is amazing!

It’s no surprise that Tiffany has become so successful at running her page and has been able to work with such recognizable brands in the Disney community. So of course, I just had to ask her what advice she would give to someone else who wanted to follow in her footsteps and start their journey towards being an influencer. “Just take the plunge! You will always come up with reasons why you ‘can’t’. But the reality is that you CAN. You don’t have to have it all figured out. I didn’t have ANYTHING figured out when I started, and sometimes I still don’t feel like I do. I just started doing it and I learned a lot as I went. Follow other accounts that inspire you and learn from them!

Tiffany is one of my favorite people to follow on Instagram. Her posts are always at the top of my feed every morning and I love seeing the new outfits she puts together or reading the posts she has written. If you want to follow along too, you can find her on Instagram at @TomorrowlandTiff. And if you want to listen to her podcast, The Disney Download, you can find it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify.