When you first walk into the Princess Salon, bright pink walls and giant posters of Disney princesses surround you. In the center of it all is Blair Neelley.
An official godmother of the Bippity Boppity Boutique at Disney World, Neelley runs the Princess Salon inside of Southern Salon (606 Springridge Road) in Clinton. A Terry, Miss., native, Neelley spends her days surrounded by princesses, watching Disney movies and making young girls feel special.
Neelley began her career with Disney as a character performer at Disney World in Florida in 2013. She's a certified barber and says she knew when applying that she wanted to do hair and makeup. She came back to the metro area at the end of that summer for school.
In the fall of 2015, Neelley moved back to Florida to work in the World of Disney store at Disney World, where she did princess transformations as a fairy godmother in training. After moving back to the Jackson area, she started her business inside of Southern Salon's spare room apart from the main salon.
In her salon, Neelley offers her own version of the princess transformations, painting nails, doing hair or makeup for $10. She also has the complete transformation package for $30, with includes a special hair clip and a princess sash. She works on girls from ages 4 to 12 and says that she prefers to work on them one-on-one to make the experience more personal. Neelley doesn't use hot tools on the girls' hair and keeps the makeup at the minimum such as a light lip gloss—something simple but easy to clean. "It's more about the experience and making them feel like a real princess," she says. "It's something that's quick, easy, fun."
Girls can come around to her salon while their mothers are getting their hair cut, and Neelley says that she will keep them entertained, even if that doesn't include a transformation. Her salon is stocked with DVDs and coloring books and even has a small kid-friendly table where she sits with the girls while they wait. "They see their moms getting their hair done and their makeup done, and they think 'I want to be like mommy', and now they can," Neelley says. "It's just enough to make them feel good, like 'I look like mommy. I get to do what she does.'"
Neelley jokes that her favorite princess is Sofia the First because they both have brown hair and blue eyes. When she's not doing transformations, she studies communications at Mississippi College. Her goals for the future are to open her own full-service salon and offer pedicures and facials, to move up in the fairy godmother world into the Magic Castle at Disney World and to work at every Disney park and cruise in the world. "I'm just a big kid at heart, and I love the princesses, and this just gives me a way to do what I love," she says. "I wanted to take something that I like and make a business out of it."