What it Takes to be a Dancewear Designer

When Kelsey Byerly started making her own uniquely styled leotards while studying in the Joffrey Ballet School/New School University BFA program in NYC, it didn’t take long before classmates bombarded her with requests for garments of their own.

For her senior thesis, she drew up plans for a dancewear company and presented a fashion show with 10 outfits for friends and faculty. Three years ago, after graduation and a short stint performing with California Ballet Company, she made her school project a reality and started the company, Flaunt Body Wear in Encinitas, CA.

Inside Look

Skill Set: Starting a line of dancewear requires creativity, persistence, patience, business savvy, knowledge of sewing and clothing construction, fabrics, work space and money.

Humble Beginnings: When funds were short during Flaunt’s start-up, Byerly worked out of her home and stored finished garments in the garage. She even modeled her own designs; her mother served as the company photographer and the backdrop for the photos was a white sheet hung in the living room.

Gotta Dance: Byerly teaches dance classes on the side for extra income and to keep herself moving. “I just can’t be happy only designing all day and not dancing.”

Designing Woman

Life of a Leotard: After sketching a design, Byerly has a pattern and sample garment made before the final product is mass-produced and shipped to retail stores and individuals.

Signature Styles: Unique leotards with flower embroidery, mesh insets and asymmetrical details.

Trend Spotting: Keeping a finger on the pulse of the dance community is essential. Byerly asks dance students to fill out surveys on their dancewear likes and dislikes to help guide Flaunt’s designs.

Job Details

Coworkers: Fabric makers, pattern makers, cutters, sewers, models, photographer, web designer, accountant, sales representatives, retail store owners

Tools of the Trade: Drawing table, sketchbook, scissors, pins, fabric, measuring tape, fashion magazines Inspiration: “For ideas, I look at what trends are in fashion magazines and on TV,” Byerly says. “I clip pictures and hang them up.”

Hours: “I’m my own boss, so I work whatever hours are needed, and sometimes that means 12-hour days.” During the fall, she works 10-hour days Monday through Saturday to keep up with the busy back-to-school season, but works more regular hours the rest of the year.

Website: flauntbodywear.com

Latest Posts


All photos by Jayme Thornton. Wardrobe styling throughout by Chloë Chadá Van for The QUIRK Group.

Lizzo's Leading Ladies: Meet the Big Grrrls

Rising pop superstar Lizzo is changing the game in all kinds of ways. (A singer who also raps and plays the flute? You'd better believe it.) But she's become an especially important leader in the body-positivity revolution. And that emphasis on diversity and self-love extends to her fabulous group of backup dancers, known as The Big Grrrls.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

The Best Apps for Dancers Who Are Social Distancing

We're living in unprecedented times, and for many of us, that means unprecedented screen time. (So please cool it with your Screen Time notifications, Apple.)

For dancers used to moving their bodies and working collaboratively, social distancing at home can come with particular challenges—not to mention the fact that many dance artists are out of work and losing income.

We rounded up the best apps to make this difficult period a bit easier—whether you need a distraction, a workout, a meditation or some inspiration:

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

A Letter from the Editor in Chief

Hi, dance friends. It is a strange time to be a person in the world, and an especially strange time to be a dancer. As the dance community faces the coronavirus crisis, a lot of you are coping with closed studios, canceled performances and competitions, and a general sense of anxiety about how your world will look going forward.

Yes, dancers are super resilient, and there's been a lot of inspiring community-building happening. #LivingRoomDances and Instagram dance parties and virtual ballet classes with the pros are wonderful. Dance can, and should, be a bright spot in the darkness. But that weird, empty feeling you have? It might be grief. The loss of the certainty of daily class, the loss of the promise of that big end-of-year performance—that's real. The dance studio has always been a safe place; it's especially hard not to have that outlet now, when you need it most.

We're here for you. We—and our friends at Dance Magazine, Pointe, Dance Teacher, The Dance Edit, and Dance Business Weekly—are doing our best to document the hurdles facing the dance industry, and to advocate for dancers in need. We're developing more online content that will help you maintain and improve your technique while you're at home, and process the mental and emotional fallout of all this upheaval. (You can keep up with the latest stories here.) And we're still making our print magazine. We have issues planned and shot, full of great dance stories and beautiful photos. We're not going anywhere.

We want to hear from you. Talk to us. Or dance to us. Or both. We won't stop moving, and you shouldn't, either.

Margaret

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search