One of the most universally related-to (and tear-inducing) moments from Peter Pan is when a still very young Wendy says “But Mother, I don’t want to grow up.” So many of us Disney fans have managed to get older, but like the Lost Boys, not totally grown up, through our love of Disney. One Disney-inspired blogger has made refusing to grow up into a fashion phenomenon.
If you haven’t stopped by the DisneyBound Tumblr blog before, both the kid and adult in you are in for a treat. Blogger Leslie Kay has built a dedicated audience from the Disney film and character-inspired outfit sets that she publishes to her blog. It’s fun to see her signature spin on a favorite character or upcoming movie, but it’s almost more fun to see her tackle the slightly more obscure characters that you forgot that you loved, with outfits you wish you’d come up with. The result is a blog that is hard to stop scrolling through. Though this trend in Disney styling has spread far beyond DisneyBound itself, Leslie is definitely at the forefront of the movement with her acute understanding of what Disney fans love, not to mention having a great eye for broader style trends.
That said, DisneyBound did not originate from Leslie’s interest in fashion so much as it did from that excited, pre-Disney World trip feeling that you get no matter what age you are. “It originally started as a travel blog. Me and my best friend were going to Disney World. It was a trip that we’d been planning since we were really young and were finally able to do around the age of twenty.”
The girls started a Tumblr blog as a way to creatively channel their excitement for the coming trip. “We came up with the term DisneyBound because we were literally on our way to Disney World, we were Disney-bound.” Without realizing it, the girls were also paying homage to Walt’s wife, Lillian, whose maiden name was Bounds. The name has since become popularly used as a verb, meaning to go to create and dress in an outfit inspired heavily by a Disney character, film theme, or attraction.
Also unintentional was the blog’s sudden success on Tumblr. “From there it took off really quickly. Before I knew it it had become this fashion site instead of just a travel blog.”
Leslie’s combination of creativity and marketing acumen led her to develop a strategy that would harness the nearly overnight success of the blog. She has a strategy for posting to keep the blog active and relevant, always mapping back to current Disney events and seasonal trends. “Going into the parks and seeing other things like the Castmembers’ costumes or different shows–it’s always nice to get in there and see what else is going on with the Disney brand.” In the future, Leslie wouldn’t mind broadening the scope of her career to involve more fashion coverage. Her focus is in branding and marketing, which you can see evidence of in her overall approach towards her blog and social media presence. She describes her own style quite differently from that of the DisneyBound aesthetic–a mix of punk rock with some vintage 1960’s thrown in–but she knows the right way to keep the blog more universal.
She also has a clear artistic vision for the blog’s look, feel, and themes, which are essentially what has appealed to her enthusiastic audience of Disney fans who enjoy carrying Disney with them through all aspects of life. “I was into fashion, and I was always really into Disney. I remember sitting there watching a Disney movie and adults would tell me “you need to grow up,” and I’d say “please don’t tell me that.”
By telling audiences there’s no right or wrong way to love the films and characters–no matter their personal style, age, or background–Leslie has also given fans confidence to just be themselves, something she hadn’t counted on with her site. “I didn’t intend to try to empower anyone. I was just doing it as a fun little hobby for myself, but it gives me a reason to keep going when I know that there are girls out there who look up to me and look up to the blog.”
The audience is just as much a part of the blog as Disney itself. Leslie lets her followers request specific characters or films to base outfit sets on, and she chooses from the submissions what she’s going to post on a given day. The Disneybound conversation has evolved into a two-way street, as Leslie posts style challenges for her fans, and publishes the pictures they submit of themselves at the Parks actually Disneybounding. “Without the audience, DisneyBound wouldn’t be what it is. I’m very grateful and I like to include them, they’re a very passionate fanbase and I like interacting with them and getting to know them as well.”