What Disney characters are currently in your wardrobe? I will bet there are more in there than you realize! It is time to bring them all out to celebrate!

A Disney-bound (also referred to as a “Bound”) is an outfit—but not a full costume—inspired by your favorite Disney character using items that you can find in your own closet or at your local mall.

So, what are we celebrating? Not one but two DisneyBound anniversaries!

DisneyBounding – the fashion phenomenon that continues to take the world by storm – celebrates its 10-year anniversary this year. If that is not enough of a milestone, DisneyBound social media influencer and author Leslie Kay is also celebrating the one-year anniversary of her debut book, DisneyBound: Dress Disney and Make it Fashion

We were thrilled to chat to Leslie to commemorate these exciting events; reflecting on the past decade of Bounding, her book’s reception, what it really means to Bound, and what else is in store for the powerhouse fashion movement and for the wonderfully versatile Leslie Kay.

Jess Salafia Ward: Leslie, happy book and Bounding anniversary! Thanks so much for joining us here at Laughing Place.

Leslie Kay: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me!

JSW: How does it feel sitting here today reflecting on a whole decade of DisneyBounding?

LK: Never in my wildest dreams did I think my little Disney fan blog would be anything anyone beyond a few hundred people would care about…so to be sitting here today with a whole every-growing community surrounding an activity based off of it is just so special.

JSW: While most of our readers may be familiar with DisneyBounding, I wanted to explore some definitions and descriptions. I loved author Jeff Kurtti’s description of your book: “This enchanting volume (and by extension, Disney-bounding as an art form) frees one to celebrate and honor favorite Disney characters and memories – along with granting an inspiring and liberating permission to fearlessly explore, to vigorously imagine, and to passionately create.” How do you define or describe it? What does it mean to you?

LK: I mean, how do you follow up a description as well put as Jeff’s?  I’ve always described it as a way of dressing up as your favorite Disney character, using items that you can find in your own closet or local mall. What would Rapunzel wear if she was going out with her friends on a Saturday afternoon? What would Maleficent wear to school? It’s a way of bringing make believe into the real world.

JSW: Was it always called “DisneyBounding”? Did you coin the term or how did it materialize?

LK: I never set out to have any of this be the thing that it is today. That was never my intention or goal. My blog started as a travel blog—I was going to Disney World for the first time as an adult with a friend (having not been since I was 8 years old) and I just wanted a place to channel my excitement. We were literally “Disney bound”, thus the name. One afternoon, I made an outfit for Rapunzel on Polyvore and posted it to my blog and my inbox immediately began getting flooded with requests for other characters. Because of the name of the blog, people started to call the outfits “DisneyBound” outfits…which then became “DisneyBounding” and “DisneyBounders”. Truly…no intention of the blog name ever being the way it’s described.

My favorite accidental detail about the name came about a year or two into the blog when someone reached out and asked where the name came from and if it was inspired by Lilian Disney. I didn’t know what that person meant and they went on to explain that Lilian’s maiden name was “Bounds” so Walt and Lily were literally “Disney” “Bounds”.

JSW: That is very cool. Love the Lily connection. Why did you start Bounding? Where did it all begin?

LK: Like so many, the act of throwing on a red polka dot dress and feeling like Minnie Mouse is not a unique invention by any means. I feel like I’ve been doing it as long as I can remember. I love to play dress up and Bounding kind of gives me a way to keep doing it as I’ve grown up.

JSW: What can you tell us about pre-DisneyBound Leslie? How has your life changed in the past 10 years?

LK: Oh, pre-DisneyBound Leslie was completely miserable and directionless. My mental health was completely down the drain. I think so many of us get caught up in “growing up” and struggle when we don’t fit in with other “adults” and that’s exactly where I was. DisneyBound was the self-care I never knew I needed. It’s helped me to find a whole community of people who are just like me. I don’t feel like I don’t belong in this world anymore. I know there’s other people just like me out there. We’ve all found each other.
This blog gave me responsibility and a place to focus my energy. It literally saved my life.

JSW: I, like all of your fans, are so happy for you that you have found such success with something that has also been so helpful to you. Have you always been creative? Who and what inspires you?

LK: I feel like my creativity is the one thing I had going for me when I was younger (laughs). I used to sit in my room with a sketchbook and listen to my Disney mix tapes and later on, CD’s…and design dance costumes for each musical number—so I guess you could say I’ve always been inspired by Disney.

JSW: How did the pandemic effect DisneyBounding? Did you find that more people were Bounding from home especially during the shutdowns at the Disney Parks?

LK: I’ve heard from so many in the DisneyBounding community, that for them, it became the way they could recreate the magic of Disney and the Disney Parks right from the comfort and safety of their own homes. It gave them a reason to get dressed and a sense of normalcy.

Every March we do the “DisneyBound Challenge”, which is a month-long celebration of DisneyBounding where people try to Bound as much as they can. Last March was…chaotic to say the least. But this year, the challenge is bigger than it’s ever been. We’re only halfway through and the hashtag has grown by almost 10,000 posts. People are feeling the healing energy in the air and they are ready to get back to Disney in every way possible, so it’s safe to say it’s really grown this year!

JSW: When and why did you decide to write DisneyBound: Dress Disney and Make it Fashion?

LK: I was approached about writing this book about 2 years ago but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t in the back of my mind since year one. I wanted to make sure I did it —with The Walt Disney Company. So, when the stars finally aligned and they reached out about this project, I was so excited!

JSW: Tell us a little bit about the process behind your book. What was it like working directly with Disney? Had you worked much with Disney before?

LK: I’ve worked with Disney several times over the years but each time is always a little bit different but I’m pretty well versed in the checks and balances each department has to go through at this point. It’s always a blast working with them—my team was made up of some of the kindest, most helpful people. A real dream team!

JSW: Did you enjoy writing your book? What were the most rewarding parts of the process?

LK: It was a lot of fun! I think the most rewarding part was seeing the physical book. It was a dream come true!  

JSW: What were the most challenging parts?

LK: I think the hardest part for me was the amount of time the team and I spent trying to ensure it was a true reflection of the community and all the ways that it’s inclusive and welcoming to all. If I could’ve, I would’ve made it 100x longer to include every face possible because it’s really the community that makes DisneyBounding what it is.

JSW: What sort of feedback have you received on your book in the past year? Side note: Cannot believe it has been a year. Feels like yesterday that I was writing my book review and scouring my cupboard for inspiration!)

LK: We had a difficult task of trying to make this book a DisneyBounding 101 guide for people new to the activity, while also trying to make it something that veterans in the community would enjoy too. It seems that for the most part, we’ve kept that balance and both sides of our target demographic enjoyed the book!

JSW: Earlier this month you donned a Super Mario Bound on Instagram. What other Bounds beyond Disney have you done, or have you encountered other fans doing?

LK: I feel like I’ve created bounds for just about every pop culture reference under the sun at this point and it’s definitely something I plan on doing more of in the future.

Nintendo Bounds are something I’ve definitely seen a lot more frequently recently, as in the pandemic, I think many of us turned to our Animal Crossing and Mario Kart for a little relief from the chaos. Lots of Universal Studios inspired looks too!

JSW: One of the things I love most about DisneyBounding is that it really doesn’t cost you anything! The characters just seem to materialize in your closet if you start looking for them. It is wonderful. What are some of your favorite things about DisneyBounding?

LK: I LOVE LOVE LOVE the way everyone interprets it differently. Everyone has their own unique takes, styles, and ideas that they add to it. Bounding is truly a community activity and there is no one monolithic way to do it. When I run into Bounders in the park, there’s always so much time spend analyzing someone’s outfit…and then you see this one detail, like earrings, or a bag and you’re like “WAIT THAT’S AMAZING!” And it just takes their outfit to the next level. Personal style is just so cool.

JSW: This is probably a really mean, tough question, but do you have an all-time favorite Bound that you have put together? Or top 5?

LK: Haha! I feel like this question changes weekly. As styles and trends evolve, old favorites fall off and new favorites come in and take their place. I always love creating looks for villains though. I’m a bit of a punk rocker at heart and if it weren’t for DisneyBounding…I think my wardrobe would be entirely black. So, I do tend to personally lean towards the villainous bounds myself.

JSW: Similarly, is there a Bound that you have seen someone else put together that stands out as your favorite or several that have blown you away?

LK: I think that answer also changes weekly…if not daily. You see people really embody the personality and style of their favorite characters…and they just feel amazing. They feel confident. Those moments warm my heart and remind me why I love DisneyBounding. I’ve seen it a lot with the DisneyBound Challenge this month. It’s those moments that are always my favorite (which is why it’s hard to choose as I see those moments daily).

JSW: What does the future of DisneyBounding hold? What do you hope it holds?

LK: It’s been the little blog that could, so far. It’s really a beast of it’s own so it’s hard to predict what the future holds. I just hope it continues to become a warm and inclusive place where people find a little touch of Disney magic in the day.

JSW: Are there any other fun Leslie Kay projects coming up shortly that we can be on the lookout for?

LK: The pandemic has made my answer really boring—but nothing at this point but who knows what will happen as the world prepares to reopen!

JSW: What do you ultimately hope people get out of DisneyBounding?

LK: I hope they find confidence, joy, community, creative expression, and most importantly, Disney magic. Anything beyond that is just a bonus!

JSW: If you could give one piece of advice to all the DisneyBound fans out there, what would it be?

LK: Not necessarily advice, but to take a moment to speak to Bounders who might be reading…you’re truly something magical. Each one of you has contributed your unique personal style and helped to create a space where people are allowed to be themselves…whoever and wherever they may be. I hope they know how so many people out there, myself included, have found the place where they belong. While the world wants to tell us to fit in…they are defiantly remaining exactly who they are and who they want to be. I think that’s pretty magical and I’m just in awe of them every day. Keep being magic because you never know who needed to see your pixie dust that day.