What does it take for a dancer to become a dancewear designer? An eye for fashion—and a lot of sewing. Colorado Ballet's Tracy Jones, one of the dancers highlighted in Pointe's "Stars of the Corps" this issue, also owns her own skirt business, Tulips By Tracy. Enter our giveaway to win one of her skirts here.
What inspired you to start making skirts?
At the end of 2011, I injured my knee and had surgery. Afterward, I was restricted to my living room and so to keep from going crazy, I decided to be creative and started to knit and sew. I was in Kentucky visiting my fiancé's family over Christmas, and lucky for me, his mum knows a thing or two about sewing machines and the right places to find some great fabrics. She helped me choose a pretty lace material, I used an old skirt that I liked the style of as a basic pattern, and I created my first “Tulip.”
When I returned to dancing, I was performing Swan Lake with the Barcelona Ballet. I received a lot of compliments on my skirt from both my colleagues and the extra dancers hired as swans—and suddenly had a number of requests to make and sell more. With the help of some friends at Barcelona Ballet, I came up with some different pattern choices and began Tulips by Tracy.
What's the most challenging part?
Juggling rehearsing, performing and making my skirts. It can be hard to stay on top of orders when we have a long run of shows. But I receive a lot of help from my fiancé—I'm pretty lucky to have an extra set of hands! And it's all worth the effort when I see other dancers wearing my skirts.
Where do you look for design inspiration?
I search through rehearsal shots of different companies to see what the dancers are comfortable in and what type of skirts they like.
What advice do you have for other dancers interested in launching their own businesses?
If you have a talent or an interest in something, no matter what it is, pursue it. Ballet is a wonderful but tough business to be in. Having something else to focus on has really helped me to grow as a person and acquire skills that will come in handy one day when my dancing career is over.