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


Photo by Jayme Thornton

How Paloma Garcia-Lee Manifested Her Dream Role, in Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story"

On a rainy day in November 2018, Paloma Garcia-Lee got a call from her agent that brought her to her knees outside her New York City apartment: She was going to play Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.

The call came after a lengthy audition process with Spielberg in the room, and the role, originated by Wilma Curley on Broadway in 1957 and later portrayed by Gina Trikonis in the 1961 film, was her biggest dream. In fact, it's something Garcia-Lee says she manifested from the day plans for the movie were announced in January 2018. "I wrote in my journal: 'I am playing Graziella in Steven Spielberg's West Side Story.'"

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo by @mediabyZ

Am I Less Committed to Dance Because I Have Other Passions? (Spoiler Alert: NO!)

Let's face it—dance is HARD, and in order to achieve your goals, you need to be committed to your training. "Still, there's a fine line between being committed and being consumed." Dancers can, and should, have interests outside of the studio.

Not convinced? We talked with dance psychologist Dr. Lucie Clements and two multifaceted dancers, Kristen Harlow (a musical theater dancer pursuing a career in NYC and Kentucky) and Kallie Takahashi (a dancer in her final year at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts), and got the inside scoop on how having hobbies outside of dance can inform your artistry, expand your range and help prevent burnout.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
Photo courtesy of Brittany Conigatti

Go Behind the Scenes of Annie Live! With Brittany Conigatti

Unwrap your candy canes, pour the hot chocolate and round up your fellow theater lovers: NBC is kicking off the Christmas season with its latest live-broadcast TV musical. Annie Live! premieres December 2 and features a star-studded cast, including Harry Connick Jr., Tituss Burgess, Megan Hilty and, as the title character, young phenom Celina Smith.

Luckily, people got a taste of what the special will entail when the cast kicked off the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with a performance last week. But since you’re never fully dressed without a Dance Spirit exclusive, we caught up with Brittany Conigatti, one of the young orphans and adult ensemble members in the show, to learn what it was like putting together a large-scale live production for the small screen.

The cast of Annie Live! poses for a group photo. The cast of Annie Live!Photo courtesy of Conigatti


Keep Reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks

contest
Enter the Cover Model Search