For many years, I was a dance mom.
My husband and I are the parents of 10 children...two natural kids and 8 who are adopted. Nine of our kids danced, so you might say that at one point, I was a "Dance Mom Extraordinaire!"
Unfortunately, the phrase "dance mom" has taken on new life in the last few years. And while art does sometimes imitate life, I find it hard to identify with the women who are currently making the term "dance mom" a trending phrase!
When I was a dance mom, we didn't have a fancy balcony to sit in. Instead, we sat on benches along the side of the studio, or on folding chairs, outside, listening to the class through the crack under the door. Our younger kids played on the floor, and we used that time to write Christmas cards or thank you letters.
When I was a dance mom, we didn't bicker and fight. We exchanged recipes and household hints and we talked about our husbands and our kids. The other dance moms were not our enemies or our competition...they were our friends. We genuinely liked each other, and we looked forward to spending that time together.
When I was a dance mom, we ALWAYS treated the teacher with respect, and we made sure that our children did, too. There were no arguments about who got a lead or who was on center stage, And the teachers, who knew which kids were the better dancers, did not play favorites...they treated all of the students the same. Everyone knew that some children take to dance more easily than others, but we praised and encouraged all of the children equally, and supported the team as a whole.
Many things were different back then, but one thing was the same....no one liked the way the kids' dance wear fit!
The problem first came to light at recital time! Each year when those recital outfits arrived in their little plastic bags, the moms would shake them out and cringe. Even though we had sent in measurements to ensure a good fit... it was obvious that the costumes had been made in "cookie cutter" fashion...different SIZES, but not different FITS. Our dancers were all shapes, but the costumes didn't seem to fit any of the kids very well.
It was obvious that someone would need to alter them...
It didn't take long for me to be crowned our studio's "Official Fixer of Costumes"....because I was the mom with the sewing machine...and so it began!
I started with the altering, but I soon moved on to making custom costumes. The Halloween costumes that I had made for my own kids each year, were already legendary... so all I had to do was to learn to do it in spandex! Soon I was making everything from flowing lyrical skirts to elaborate dance wear creations. Whatever they needed, I would make it...using the kid's measurements so that there was a perfect fit every time.
Eventually, as I spent more time at the studio, I began to see an even greater need for everyday dance wear that fit wel!
Many of the kids, including my own, were in the studio multiple days a week, several hours at a time. They spent all the hours that they were learning their routines, fighting with clothing that was as ill-fitting as the costumes I'd been altering.
What made it worse was during their time at the studio, they were dancing with their peers. Everyone knows that all kids want to look good in front of their friends! Some of the kids complained constantly...especially about their dance shorts. They didn't like the elastic in the waistband that pinched and pulled...they didn't like the baggy crotch. Some girls tried to fix the "baggy butt syndrome" by folding the waistband down a few times...but that only gave them a wedgie...or worse! It was a constant struggle between moms and daughters, with the daughters complaining that the shorts were too baggy, and the moms saying that they were riding up too far.
But the kids who really stole my heart were the ones who didn't complain. There were always the quiet kids who looked as if they were watching the other girls from the outside, looking in. For them, the baggy shorts were just the beginning of their dance wear problems. Most dance wear is made for girls with "ballerina" bodies...and these kids didn't fit that mold. Every day they struggled to maintain their self esteem while dancing in clothing that did not meet their needs.
I couldn't help but think that there could be an easy fix to this problem, if someone would just take the time to develop the patterns AND MAKE IT AFFORDABLE!
So that is how DANCE MOM'S DANCE WEAR got its start.
At Dance Mom's Dance Wear you have a choice to order dance wear in "off the rack" sizes...or you can send me your child's measurements and I will tweak my patterns so that they fit your child's specific body type.
And as long as you are ordering an item as it is listed, THERE IS NO EXTRA CHARGE FOR THIS!!
This way, every child has a chance to dance in clothing that fits them well...dance wear that makes them look good on the outside, and feel good on the inside.
It takes a little longer to produce dance wear in this way, but the rewards are so worth the time and trouble!
One of my own kids came to me the other day and said, "Mom, you call your website Dance Mom's Dance Wear...but you really aren't a dance mom anymore. We are all grown, and we drive to the studio. So technically you are no longer a dance mom."
I thought about what she said, and then I thought about how I feel when the moms send me their kids' measurements. Whether I am making an elaborate custom costume worth several hundred dollars... or a $30 pair of shorts...by the time I finish, a part of that child has become a part of me. I guess it's what happens when you love children, and already have 10 of your own...what's a few hundred more?
I remember the little girl whose mom contacted me my first year in business. She told me that her daughter was wanting to quit dance because some of the kids in her dance class had made fun of her. The mom was having a hard time find leotards or sports bras that fit her child because she was on the "fluffy" side. Her daughter was very talented...a very good dancer...but so discouraged.
I made her an outfit...her little girl loved it, so she ordered again.
A few days after she received the second shipment, the mother contacted me again. She said, "Cindy, I wanted you to know that the other kids in my little girl's dance class are wanting dance outfits like hers. My kid, who was wanting to quit dance, was so excited when the second box came that she changed into her new outfit IN THE CAR on the way home from the post office. We live in Montana...it was 6 degrees outside, today!"
Yep, my own kids are grown, but inside, I will always be a Dance Mom!