A determined 19-year-old entrepreneur from Sompting has not let her ill health get in the way of latest venture: a Disney-themed party and events entertainment business.
Anastasia Harker, of Valley Road, launched A Star Parties as a small business in April last year, dressing up as Disney characters for children’s birthday parties.
“I’m a huge Disney fan,” said Anastasia, whose current favourite character to perform is Merida from the film Brave – though she also likes Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Ariel from the Little Mermaid.
She said of the party-goers: “They absolutely love it. It’s a lot of fun. Usually the birthday girl or boy stand there in shock, and sometimes they hide for a bit before coming out of their shell, while the other kids are excited. But when you have to leave, they’re attached to your leg.”
She is now looking to expand her business with further events and by branching out into hen parties and stag parties – a dream she is funding by working part-time at Domino’s Pizza in Lancing, while also studying a degree in psychology at the Open University.
The entertainment business is a new industry for the ambitious teen, who also co-presents a youtube channel and who previously worked as a canine behaviourist.
However, after her beloved Beagle Archie had to be put down in December, Anastasia decided she needed a change.
“I couldn’t go back to the work I was doing. I didn’t want to do it without him,” she said.
Archie’s company had been especially helpful in getting Anastasia through her complicated health issues.
In 2013 she was hospitalised and diagnosed with Coeliac disease and, from 2014, had to live with a feeding tube from her nose to her stomach because she was unable to keep food down.
She said: “I’m thankfully without my feeding tube now, that’s through a lot of effort.”
Her health has been ‘up and down’ and things have been difficult since losing Archie, she said.
However through running her own events business, Anastasia said she had found ‘something that makes me very happy’.
“I think being self employed is something that will be better for me, if my health isn’t going to be great,” she said. “I want a job I can really enjoy and I want to be able to work my own hours.”
Find out more about her business at www.astarparties.co.uk
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