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Winfield teen helps girls do prom on a budget

Courtesy photo
Winfield senior Danae Wells started From Pauper to Princess in 2012. The company sells and rents formal dresses, shoes and jewelry at extremely low prices so all girls can have a chance to enjoy a big dance without going broke.
Courtesy photo From Pauper to Princess has dresses in sizes 00 to 32.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- There are only a few times in a girl's life when she gets to dress in a gown and feel like royalty: her wedding, a quinceanera (maybe) and prom. These can be expensive affairs.

Don't let the cost and expectations from peers turn you into a pumpkin this prom season, though. From Pauper to Princess is an organization that provides girls with dresses, shoes and jewelry extremely inexpensively. Its motto is "Providing Girls with Magic."

Danae Wells, a senior at Winfield High School, licensed the company last year because she believes "every girl should have at least one night where she can feel like a princess without worrying about the cost."

From Pauper to Princess carries just about everything -- from designer dresses to more humble pieces, both short and long and in sizes ranging from 00 to 32. Wells sells all the dresses for less than $100 and rents them for between $20 and $50 per night.

Most people would probably assume there's a catch with quality somewhere, but this proprietor adamantly purchases and accepts only dresses of good quality and a modern look.

"If I wouldn't wear it, then I do not purchase the dress," she said.

You can view the majority of the dresses in stock on the organization's website, frompaupertoprincess.webs.com, or on its Facebook page. If you are interested in purchasing/renting a formal dress, or even donating one, visit the website to contact Wells.

Since, the company is so new, Wells does not have a store. She works out of her closet at home. After setting up an appointment, she'll set out all the dresses in a customer's size range.

The only thing she asks is that if a dress is rented, the customer completes a drug and alcohol contract. This is so she's not held liable for anything that happens after the dress is rented and also that the customer is responsible for the night. An extra fee will be charged if there is evident staining concerning alcohol or excessive damage in any fashion.

Wells has prospered with her business. She currently has more than 100 dresses stocked and hopes to increase that number.

She's had dresses donated by teachers, neighbors and friends. She also buys dresses from individuals and thrift stores as long as they are in good quality.

Wells hopes the company develops to a point that she can make unique dresses for girls and still sell them inexpensively. She's also on the verge of supplying tuxedos.

Not only has Wells helped local girls, but From Pauper to Princess donates a portion of its proceeds to various backpack programs in West Virginia schools. These are organizations set up in the schools to supply kids with food, clothing, toiletries and school supplies they might not be able to afford.

When asked what her favorite part of doing all this is, she said, "I love being able to help girls with their dreams and also donating the money to the backpack program. More than every girl should feel beautiful for a night, every child, every adult, every person should be fed."

Wells intends to continue the company after she graduates and to expand it through heavy advertising. She also plans to visit local schools to promote her business.

The best part of this whole experience, she said, has been "knowing I'm trying to help my community and that differences can be made whether they are large or small."

***

Wells' advice on a low budget prom is to think cheap:

"Don't spend $400 on a dress you'll only wear once," she said. "The same with shoes and jewelry."

She recommends buying cheap shoes because they'll probably end up under the table by the end of the night anyway and costume jewelry because no one is going to inspect the detail of your diamonds.

Also, guys don't rent a car. No one cares how you get to prom; it's a dance, not a drive.

Coupons are okay to use for dinner, too. Tickets and tuxedos already cost enough. Wells said she had Taco Bell on her prom night and had just as much fun as she would have had anywhere else.

So don't give up your night of fancy solely because of the price.


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