Wonderland: Where dreams come true
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to put your life on pause, and, for just one night, become something of your dreams? What would you be?
These things of dreams become reality when you walk into Wonderland — a costume, alterations, vintage and otherwise fantastical shop on Middlebury’s Main Street. Hannah Hurlburt has made it her business to be our fairy godmother — granting all our wishes true.
“I get the greatest joy helping transform others into their alter ego — helping dreams come true,” said the 2004 Middlebury Union grad.
“There are characters and creatures I’ve always dreamed of being,” she continued. “I get the chance every Halloween to pick one of mine, and help others morph into theirs.”
This year, Hurlburt picked a dragon.
“I always wanted to be a dragon,” she explained. “As soon as I saw the wings I knew I had to do my own version.”
Hurlburt’s costume creation this year is inspired by Spyro the Dragon cosplay.
Hang on… Let’s break that last bit down. Spyro the Dragon is a video game developed by Insomiac Games for PlayStation; it was first released in North America in 1998. Spyro, the title character, is a young purple dragon. Ok, now, what’s “cosplay?” That’s a contraction of the words “costume play.” Feel a little smarter?
Hurlburt combined patterns and crafted her own Spyro — a green and gold dragon complete with a three-foot wingspan, horns and a tail.
“When you’re wearing a costume you change personality a little bit,” Hurlburt said. “The costume inspires a transformation.”
Hurlburt who is celebrating her 30th birthday today (Thursday, Oct. 27) said she’s wanted to design clothes since she was five years old.
“It happened when I was watching The Wizard of Oz,” Hurlburt remembered. “I watched the bubble float across the screen and become Glinda the Good Witch. Seeing the character transformation of bubble to beautiful witch really spoke to me… And I’ve been playing dress-up ever since.”
In fact, this moment made such an impression, after graduating Mass College of Art Hurlburt launched her own brand in 2009 and named it “The Good Witch” — that’s how she got into the business of granting wishes.
“I design because of what I like to call ‘the moment of truth,’” she said. “It’s when I’m done designing, I’ve made all the cuts, laid it out and sewn it together… then you try the piece on and, when it’s right you get the greatest rush. It’s pure energy and positive fun. The moment of truth is the essence of why I design something.”
Then, of course, you get to debut the new outfit.
But really, here in Middlebury? How many people do you know who would ditch the clogs and put on six-inch heels and wings?
The answer: More than you’d think.
“It’s always a pleasant surprise,” said Hurlburt. “Sometimes the most strait-laced people come in looking for a bunny mask and corset, and then someone kind of funky will come in and want to be Little Bo Peep.
“I get to meet the coolest people,” continued Hurlburt, who together with her mom and four other off-and-on employees run Wonderland and The Good Witch. “The people who come into my shop are the most open minded wonderful people in the community. I’m really grateful to be here and so thankful that people are letting me do what I do.”
Hurlburt acknowledged that shops like hers are more common in bigger cities, and yeah, sure, the numbers might be higher, but she’s happy to be in Middlebury.
“I hope I’m providing a service to town,” she said, noting her tailoring, alteration and vintage side of the business. “I hope I’m also providing a space for folks who are a little more alternative, and most of all, I hope I’m bringing another culture to town.”
So, if you don’t believe in dreams-come-true, go see Hannah downtown. She’ll waive her wand, flap her wings or swish her tail, and you’ll be a believer before you leave.
Wishing a happy birthday to our very own Good Witch, and a happy Halloween to all!