Bippity Boppity Boo: Cinderella’s Closet Boutique

Local Pop-up Prom Provides a Unique Shopping Experience for High School Girls in Need

If a dream is a wish your heart makes, then Cinderella’s Closet is the fairy godmother who makes those wishes come true.

Director of Cinderella’s Closet Southwest Ohio, Sara Mosteller, knows firsthand the power of the perfect prom dress and the impact of the organization. In 2009, Sara met founder, Erin Peterson, during a challenging time in her personal life at a volunteer event. Upon agreeing to helping with another future event, Sara was asked to lead the Southwest Ohio location. 

Finding Something Magical in Cinderella's Closet Boutique

“Meeting Erin and being introduced to Cinderella's Closet changed my life,” she says. “It was a reminder that God had things in store for me that I couldn't see or know. Serving as the Director of Cinderella's Closet Southwest Ohio is never something I envisioned as a volunteer back in 2009, but now I know I was exactly where I needed to be.”

Erin was inspired to open Cinderella’s Closet after an encounter with a young high school student struggling to pay for her prom dress in a Kentucky consignment shop like this one. Feeling compelled to purchase the dress for the girl, Erin knew she could make a bigger impact in her community and make other young girls look “just like Cinderella.”

Expanding Their Purpose: Meeting Needs on a National Scale

What began as a small desire to help someone in need, has grown into 17 locations across 10 states, staffed completely by volunteers. More than 20,000 princesses have lived out their very own dance-party, dream-dress fairy tale.

“Cinderella’s Closet encourages high school girls to recognize their beauty and value by providing a unique prom shopping experience,” Sara says. The pop-up prom boutique serves junior and senior high school girls in the greater Cincinnati area at an annual spring event. The 2020 event was held at Crossroads Church in Mason in March. 

“When a princess visits Cinderella’s Closet, she is given nothing less than the royal treatment,” Sara says. Each princess is greeted by her very own fairy godmother who helps her shop for a prom dress and accessories (jewelry, shoes and makeup) of her dreams—and every item is complementary and hers to keep. Princesses are also pampered by hairstylists and pose for a prom photo with a professional photographer. And, in true Cinderella fashion, ‘mice’ volunteers offer onsite alterations.

With more than 1,500 unique dresses in sizes 0-32, hundreds of shoes and thousands of pieces of jewelry, Cinderella’s Closet ensures every princess gets her perfect pick.

Care Beyond the Clothing

“When many people envision a secondhand shopping experience, it feels stale and less than,” Sara says. “With Cinderella's Closet, our princesses are treated with the utmost grace and respect because we believe that they truly are princesses. As an organization, Cinderella's Closet realizes that young girls repeatedly hear the message that they are not enough. At the end of the experience at Cinderella's Closet we want each princess to know that she is worth it.”

For most teenagers, attending high school prom is a rite of passage. Unfortunately, many do not feel worthy of the experience or believe the financial burden is too great.

“At Cinderella’s Closet, the experience shows young girls they are more than their circumstances may seem—they are worthy of all the attention and fuss. The dress and accessories are a catalyst for creating a memorable experience that will continue to impact each girl’s life, even beyond her prom,” Sara says.

With this year’s cancellation of proms across the city due to COVID-19, Cinderella’s Closet is already preparing for next year’s events. Volunteer registration will begin in February for the 2021 event.

“While I know many adults are struggling due to the pandemic, for high school students these events are just as big as those weighty adult concerns,” Sara says. “When you're 17 and nearing the end of your high school experience, prom is a BIG deal.”

For this reason, Sara is already looking forward to seeing princesses again and encourages getting connected and making donations to the organization now. New and gently used formal dresses can be dropped off at Deluxe Cleaners (Cox Lane or Union Centre Pavilion Drive) where they will be cleaned for free. Formal shoes and costume jewelry, as well as monetary donations are also accepted by Cinderella’s Closet.

“The physical transformation that happens during a princess's time at Cinderella's Closet is my favorite,” Sara says. “I have seen hundreds of girls enter with their shoulders down, faces full of dread and uncertainty, and doubt in their eyes. As our princesses leave, they are now holding their shoulders high with pride, smiling nonstop and have joy in their eyes, because in that moment they’ve realized what we already know—they are beautiful and valued just as they are.”

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