Halloween is the busiest time of year for Missy Morrow at the Party Corner in the York and Victoria Plaza, but helping people dress up as themselves or whoever they want to be is her life-long passion.
“Many of us as teenagers were that weird kid that got bullied,” said Morrow. “I am that weird kid grown up.”
Morrow was born and raised in Port Sydney in the Muskokas. It was there that she developed a love for fashion and sewing.
“My grandmother used to sew me funky winter hats and clothes for my dolls and I always wanted to learn how to sew,” said Morrow. “She died when I was 13 so I didn’t get to learn from her and they didn’t have sewing classes at my high school.”
She saw an opportunity to learn sewing and costume design and enrolled in the theatre program at the University of Guelph.
“Originally, like everyone else who has been in the theatre program, I thought I could possibly be an actor,” she said. “That changed once I realized that to be a good actor you have to be able to look like a lot of different people and portray a lot of different people. I kind of always look like myself. I started taking costuming and it turned into my life.”
Being herself often made it difficult for the uncompromising theatre student to pay her bills.
“I had a difficult time finding jobs because back then it was harder for people with a lot of earrings or people who looked different,” she said. “A lot of places wouldn’t hire me just based on my appearance.”
Her fortunes changed when she applied for a job at Party Corner and met the original owner Georgina Bergant.
“Georgina said I don’t care what you look like” said Morrow. "If you are good at what you do and work hard for me that’s all I care about. She is fabulous.”
Morrow stayed on at Party Corner after she graduated in 2005 and in 2007 bought the business from Bergant.
They sell party supplies and provide decorating services for all occasions. They also sell and rent a broad array of custom-made, theatre-quality costumes for seasonal events such as Halloween and Christmas as well as for music, film and theatre productions.
Morrow also has a side business Miss E: Satan’s Seamstress designing custom clothing for people like her that don’t fit the typical retail mold.
“Right now if you aren’t a small, medium or large you are going to have a hard time,” she said. “Specialty size people should have just as many options as regular size people.”
She loves the creative and fun nature of her job.
“You need to be a giant Q-Tip, sure I can help you out,” she said. “You have to think outside the box and get them what they need.”
Most of all she enjoys helping people be themselves.
“I get a lot of positive feedback on the way I dress,” she said. “A lot of people tell me ‘oh you're so brave. I wish I could do that’ and I tell them, you can. You are who you are.”