The Designer Daddy
Nephi Garcia loves to be called a Designer Daddy. He is a 34-year-old father of three with a passion of designing Disney dresses. Nearly three years ago, the family was on the verge of homelessness. But Nephi and his wife didn’t give up. They decided to follow their dreams and embraced an opportunity that not only saved them from being homeless but also made Nephi a successful designer. They now live in Huntington Beach in the Orange County of Southern California, which Nephi says is a result of believing that dreams can come true.
1) How did you get into designing costumes? Which was the first costume you ever made?
The very first costume I made was in 2015. It was the fairy godmother dress from Cinderella. There is an interesting story behind it. I lost my job in retail and we were pretty much homeless. All we had were Disneyland passes that we had bought when I was still working. Instead of staying in a dingy motel to figure out what to do, we decided to go to Disneyland. We couldn’t afford to buy anything let alone a costume so I designed a fairy godmother dress from fabric I had. I didn’t realize it was going to be a big hit at the park. People approached me and gave me orders for the dress and a princess company that did birthday parties gave me a $10,000 deposit and asked me to make costumes for them.
3) Do you only make Disney costumes? How much do you work and how do you balance family life?
I do make a lot of Disney costumes because that’s what most of my clients want My second most requested item is custom wedding dresses. We also do a transformation dress for kids which is popular. I now have two seamstresses working for me and a month and a half ago, we bought a big, giant house. I’m still shocked at how fast it happened.
We make about 3-5 ball gowns a week for adults and children. Occasionally, we get orders from men who want prince costumes, which is great because men are usually more timid when it comes to dressing up. We definitely have room for them. My wife and my kids like to dress up a lot.
Every Saturday, I dedicate a few hours to making costumes for them to wear to church every Sunday. Our master closet is the size of a bedroom and it is full. We have five bedrooms; one room is a clothing rack for costumes, and our garage is full of costumes too. Maybe my daughter will inherit her mom’s dresses and pass them on to her daughter.
4) Designing costumes for their little girls is usually a mother’s forte. How does it feel to be a Designer Daddy?
It’s definitely different but it’s a lot of fun. A lot of women and girls have an inner princess within them, and it’s fun to be able to be a part of that dream and make something that awakens that inner princess again. I’ve never met a dad that makes princess dresses but I wish there would be more dads to tackle this industry. I feel very good that I can do it being a man and a father.
5) How often do you visit Disneyland? Is it for inspiration?
We go about once a week because we have an annual pass. I mainly go for inspiration. Walt Disney believed his dreams can come true and fortunately, it’s happening to us. I want my kids to believe their dreams can come true, whatever they may be.
6) In an age where girls are moving away from being typecast as princesses, how does dressing up in a princess costume help?
People are starting to be more aware of equality and women’s rights. Definitely, women with power and authority should be celebrated. But for women who want to become princesses and wear ball gowns, that’s their version of empowerment and they are willing to embrace it. We should celebrate that as well.