Years ago, at age 10, I sew myself a pair of cotton blue checkered shorts for home use. That took me ages, and with much difficulty, after that I wondered how can a pair of shorts be so inexpensive. I remembered thinking – if I had to sew it for sale, I would sell it for $50! I only thought that because of how hard it was to sew a pair of shorts for me at that time. Many years later, I didn’t expect that I will be sewing samples and designing for a living.
My dancewear design story didn’t come from the standard “I made some dancewear for myself and later everyone wanted it, thus tada, my brand is born!” Though it is true, I’ve been known to wear really never-seen-before dancewear that do bring in some compliments, or probably the strange eye – the look of ‘weirdo-alert’!
I originally wanted to be a fashion designer. No, not the fancy “I’m going to be the next Marc Jacobs!” type. I wanted to design dresses mainly, from classic Audrey Hepburn styles, to the chic Rachel Zoe 70’s glamor style to romantic skinny wedding dresses that celebrated the beautiful feminine form. In my head, I preferred the ballet silhouette, so I designed for the lanky, long limbed, slopping shoulders, beautiful long necked beauty.
Obviously, anyone from Asia or from an Asian cultural background can attest to this – my parents weren’t keen on me pursuing an education in pure art, or fashion. If you have parents who wholly support your art, you are mighty blessed! So I went to business school and got jobs later on in marketing, media and fashion magazines.
During university, in order to have extra pocket money to pay for dance classes and courses in fashion, I worked in a fast-moving fashion retail store, a bridal boutique, vintage stationary store and did ad-hoc commerical modelling jobs in beauty & fashion. With my own money, I paid for lessons and also bought two home sewing machines. For years, I studied design, pattern making and basic sewing from a wedding gown designer. I also took make up and styling courses in fashion. Obviously, that was where my heart was, and of course, I danced!
Then you know, life happened and I continued to dance – and shelved my passion for design and fashion books for a long while. I guess the artistic part of me never went away, it was just channeled to other things. Fast forward to selling my dancewear on www.balletlove.co… what happened initially was that I was asked to choose fabric, later to send input to manufacturer, later on to lias with the manufacturer and eventually tasked to be in charge of producing at least 50% of what is sold. I was really rusty, so I went back to fashion school to take courses part time, and also to get updated on current manufacturing processes, industrial machines, industrial grade seams and stitches, pattern-making, fabric composition etc. I was lucky to have met many wonderful angels in the industry, many of whom I still work closely with to produce designs by Bluebelle.
I also shy away from any publicity, much preferring to be private so you won’t find my personal name used as a brand on my designs.
Now, I think I’ll end here, just wanting to add that I’m not the only fashion designer on the team, there are many wonderful people whose contribution I depend on heavily to produce all the dancewear. More of whom you’ll hear about soon as featured here in time to come….when we have a spare minute or a break from designing your dancewear! Haha.
As I write, someone is sewing tutus, and another is hand-sewing embroidery to the waist of the dresses. The other designer is putting measurements on paper for a new design, and the 3rd designer has left to pick up a bunch of items that we sent for special finishing. I had finished sketching and was updating fabric codes and communicating with fabric manufacturers. Why do I write this? To let you know that everything here is a team effort and that we are very grateful for your support.
Thanks for reading!