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Dad designs magical Disney-inspired costumes for his kids

For designer Nephi Garcia, who lost his job last year, a trip to Disneyland led to a thriving business creating costumes for kids and adults alike.
/ Source: TODAY

They say dreams come true at Disneyland — and they definitely did for one talented dad and his family.

It all started last year when Nephi Garcia and his wife, Beth, took their three young kids on a trip to the popular theme park in Anaheim, California.

Garcia, 32, had worked for years as a high-end fashion designer, but he had just lost his job and his family was struggling to stay afloat.

So when his daughter Lili, now 6, asked him to make a special outfit for her to wear during their Disney trip, he whipped up a fairy godmother gown from fabric scraps he had lying around.

Garcia’s magical creation stole the show at Disneyland. That day, several park visitors approached him and asked how they could buy one of his remarkable outfits.

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“I didn’t realize it would catch so much attention,” Garcia told TODAY. “People were like, ‘Oh, you need to start an Instagram!’”

By the following day, he’d gotten 10 commissions for costumes, and as word spread about Garcia’s amazing designs, the orders kept flowing in. Soon, Garcia launched an online business, Designer Daddy, to sell his fantasy costumes for kids and adults.

Now, demand for Garcia’s creations is through the roof. His waiting list for costumes is two years long, and he gets about 300 emails a day from people inquiring about custom outfits.

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“I didn’t expect it at all,” he said. “Everything took me by surprise.”

Garcia said he loves working full time on his Designer Daddy business because it allows him to spend more time with his wife and kids — something that his previous job in high fashion made difficult.

He added that his kids are some of his biggest fans.

“They love it, and they come up with ideas for me, actually,” Garcia said. “We take dress-up to the next level in our home!”

Lili especially loves her dad’s magical “transformation” costumes, like this one inspired by the 1991 animated film "Beauty and the Beast":

Garcia is working to create a new line of mass-produced, but still high-quality, Disney-inspired costumes.

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But for now, he makes each outfit by hand. Kids’ dresses typically take four to six hours to make, while adult costumes can take anywhere from 12 to 45 hours. Prices for kids’ costumes start at $500, while adult gowns start at $1,800.

Garcia offered some encouragement for aspiring designers or anyone struggling to get a creative dream off the ground.

“As long as you do what you love doing, and not worrying too much about money, it will come, because people will see that you love what you’re doing,” he said. “Whatever your dream is ... just do it.”