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How One Woman Quit Her Tech Job to Become a Professional Faerie

(Photos: Happily Ever Laughter)

Jenny Harrison used to work with computers. But she found it unsatisfying. So she decided to become a faerie. Fortunately, Happily Ever Laughter, a company in the San Francisco Bay area, employs many faeries. Harrison found a way to stand out from the competition. In an impressive piece of longform journalism, Lauren Davis of io9 learned about the modern faerie world and how Harrison broke into it:

But she figured out a way to make her application stand out anyway. For one thing, she made her cover letter rhyme. For another, she transformed her resume from that of tech professional to that of a silly faerie who happened to work in the tech industry. She removed the references to servers and MySQL, for example, replacing them with job descriptions like, “I look at computer screens all day! And oh my gosh, there are so many numbers!” She scored an interview.

Harrison got the job and took up the faerie name Pepper. To clarify: she did not become a magical being. She’s a top-tier children’s entertainer who dresses as a faerie and performs at parties. Happily Ever Laughter hired Pepper and trained her up to faerie standards:

The performers need to learn how to twist balloon animals, perform magic and puppet shows, and meet the company’s particularly high face-painting standards. (Richman confesses that she wasn’t a natural; it took a lot of practice for her to master the ropes.) And performers have to develop social tools as well as performance skills — things to say that will make the children feel more at ease with this strange person on their special day. After all, Richman points out, you’ve been invited to someone’s big celebration “this momentous thing. So it’s important to become part of that.”

(Photo of a faerie named Miss Sparrow)

A lot of children are deeply skeptical that Pepper is a real faerie. Her job is to be convincing in her role:

The weekend before we spoke, Richman worked a bunch of shows where the children all had one thing in common: They were skeptics. When Richman showed up in her lavish dress and shimmering wings, she was greeted with shouts of “Fake faerie! Fake faerie!”

But after a little time with Pepper, the faerie character Richman portrays, those kids became believers. There’s a smile in Richman’s voice as she thinks back on those shows, “By the end, they got it, and they had that magic again. They understood that you can really keep that magic in your world, create your own imaginary things that help you and lift you up.” The same children who had accused her of being a fake faerie ran up to her with stories like, “We found your faerie hideout! It’s over there! You need to come see!”

Beyond maneuvering hoop skirts and choosing the right face paints, that’s a major challenge professional faeries face: getting children to suspend their disbelief. “It’s just very important; we’re in character the entire time,” Richman says. “There’s not a single point in time where we’re not going to be in character.”

My young daughters are thrilled to learn that “faerie” is now an actual career field.

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