From Iceland — Side Hustle: Princess For Hire

Side Hustle: Princess For Hire

Published June 8, 2024

Side Hustle: Princess For Hire
Photo by
Atli Freyr Steinsson

Jessica Chambers is living the princess life, one gig at a time

“Anna, Elsa, Ariel, Rapunzel, Belle, Mirabel, Moana..,” Jessica Chambers crooks her fingers as she counts out loud, ticking off all the Disney princesses she can dress as. Her day job might pay for most of her bills, but it’s through her side gig, Prinsessur, which she runs together with her partner, Maxime Houssin, that Jessica’s creativity truly comes to life.

Jessica Chambers, 29, a data analyst

I am a cosplayer and I make my own costumes. I used to make costumes just for fun, not for parties or anything. Then my friends had kids and their kids were having birthdays. Since I make a lot of Disney princess costumes, my friends asked, “Could you just come and pretend to be a princess for my kid?” This happened three times in the same month. I thought, if these parties go well, I’m going to start a business because clearly there’s a demand for it. I started on my own, but really, it’s me and my fiancé — we do it together. He plays the princes, and I play the princesses. Last year, we also hired a team of contractors who play other characters and speak other languages.

We always schedule things on the weekends, or if it’s during the week, we make sure it’s after work or on a day off. My real job never suffers from this. That’s the whole point: it’s very separated.

My colleagues at Marel are really excited about it. Usually, on Friday, when we’re having morning coffee, they’ll ask, “So, what are you dressing up as this weekend?”

The highs and lows

It’s a very expensive thing to get into. I still haven’t paid off all the costumes. But I do it for the fun and for the kids. Because when you’re playing someone like Elsa, and you see a kid thinking they’re meeting their hero, it’s just the most magical thing. 

“One of my party tricks now is singing “Let it Go” in four languages.”

The worst thing is brushing the wigs. This is a very common business in other countries where the weather is better — they buy these very nicely styled wigs and touch them up maybe once a year. In Iceland, I have to touch up the wigs after every single use. I’m just constantly brushing hair.

One thing I wished I had known before starting this side hustle is the amount of sport involved. You don’t think about it, but bending down to the kids you’re just doing squats for two hours. It’s more than I expected. Also, on a positive note, I would never do this job in France because I would definitely be groped. That’s why my fiance got involved in the first place: I had my very first real gig in Reykjanesbær, which is a long way. I thought, “Oh, God, if something happens, what do I do?” So Maxime was like, “Well, I’ll come with you. I’ll just dress up as Christoph.” He really enjoyed it, so he kept doing it, but I don’t actually need a bodyguard.

Choose your hero

The heart of it is princesses, but recently, we’ve added a spider hero — Spider Man, who’s actually our first Icelandic employee. He can do a backflip, so that trumps things. I have pirates as well to have some more gender-neutral characters.

Photo by Atli Freyr Steinsson

My Icelandic is not perfect, so I tend to warn parents — I can talk about fairy tales and magic in Icelandic, but I can’t talk about the economy. Thank God for Disney Plus, I’ve been able to watch all the Disney movies in Icelandic multiple times, taking detailed notes of how they say and describe things, and learning the songs as well. One of my party tricks now is singing “Let it Go” in four languages.

When kids go off-script

Kids just say the darndest things to you. That’s probably the strangest thing. They’ll just walk up to you, I mean, Elsa or Anna, and say, “Your parents are dead” and just walk off. They really have no filter.

I have a performer who plays Moana, and she had her very first event with us at a library in Hafnarfjörður. We’re doing some crafts, and there’s a book on the shelf called Guns. This one girl just asks, “Moana, what does that mean?” And my poor performer, she’s just like, “Um, ask your mother.”

Fairytales with no borders

Almost all of our events are with cities to some degree, like in libraries or for big festivals. This weekend, we have Sjómannadagurinn and a story hour in the library. Those are the main sorts of things we do. It’s what we call our meet and greet because we just go somewhere.

One of the big things about Prinsessur is that we do stuff in different languages and we’re all international. We have a Ukrainian girl, a Venezuelan girl and Maxime and I are French. We really encourage all the children of foreign origin to come to our events. One of the best examples of that — and the most fun — is our Easter egg hunt in Hafnarfjörður.

Hire your own Elsa and more: prinsessur.is

Want to share how you’re making ends meet? Email us at grapevine@grapevine.is with the subject line “Side Hustle.” We’ll happily keep your identity anonymous.


Follow along with the Side Hustle series right here.

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