Located in the Atrium Plaza Lane Cove is Balletstuff’s Factory Outlet. Balletstuff is also an online retailer of ballet gear, dance gear, gym gear and all dance accessories. Balletstuff is a family owned business created by a Lane Cove Mum, Alison Bird, who has three girls who dance. We asked Alison all about Balletstuff and why she saw a need for an online store that sold quality dance products at a good price.
Why Did You Decide to Start Balletstuff?
I started this when my youngest girl was born. It was a small online website, working from our spare bedroom. The concept was to offer dancewear that was more reasonably priced for little girls (under 10’s) because there was nothing in between the Target Jiffies and Bloch, as I found out one day trudging around Chatswood looking for a pair of ballet shoes for my 4 year old.
I found out that there were a lot of mums like me, who didn’t want to pay the Bloch prices for their little girls to try ballet, not knowing if they would go back next term. The business grew slowly and after a couple of years we couldn’t move around the boxes that had filled our house. So three years ago we also opened a shop in Lane Cove to offer retail and to have somewhere to store our stock.
Balletstuff is still mainly an online retail dancewear store (75% online 25% offline), although our local shop in Lane Cove is growing. We have expanded our range and offer a lot more now than just the standard black and pink budget ballet packs that we started with. I believe we were the first retailer to offer the value starter packs, and notice that many others are now doing the same. However, we haven’t come across any yet that can match our low prices!
What Are Your Best Sellers?
Our best sellers are still our value packs, which offer leotard+skirt+tights+shoes for a discounted price, ballet shoes and jazz shoes. Our point of difference is our price and our service. It is great for a mum of a first-time dancer. You can buy all the things in the one place. We know how pressed for time you are and it is so easy to order online.
How long have you lived in Lane Cove?
I’ve lived in Lane Cove since 1996. My husband Andrew has lived here for 40 years, he grew up here.
How long have you been running the business?
I started the business when my daughter Anabel was born, so in 2007 and we’ve had the shop for 5 years.
What do you like about living in Lane Cove?
I love Lane Cove, it’s so friendly it’s like living in a village and the plaza is a great place to meet and hang out.
Do your children dance locally? Any feedback on local dance schools?
My girls all dance at Dance Sensation because that’s where I took Zoe when she was baby. Most of my mothers group went along together. We’ve stayed with Elizabeth at Dance Sensation for 10 years because she runs a really family-friendly down to earth dance school.
All three girls are in performance groups this year and they got to dance in a flash mob at the Easter show, they had to wear bright clothes.
The 2066 postcode has a number of fantastic dance schools, so there’s plenty to choose from. We also love Burns Bay Dance Studios, Longueville Dance, and Red Shoes – they are great dance schools and we get good feedback from parents about them!
Did you dance as a child?
I did ballet as a child, I loved it but didn’t pursue it into the teen years because I grew to be an absolute hockey fanatic and that’s where my focus went. Seems I’m back on dance now though!
What is the most satisfying thing about running your business?
I love being a part of Balletstuff. I get to meet and talk to families face to face and via email from all over Australia and it’s so gorgeous watching and being involved in all these young kids and seeing their delight at starting dance, not just girls (although 95% are) but also the boys.
It’s a really enjoyable business to have and be doing each day. I love it! The flexibility of being self-employed because my girls are everything and Andrew and I get to do all those things we might otherwise miss out on if we were still in the corporate world, so we feel very lucky!
If you know someone whose child will be starting ballet or dance soon, do them a favour and tell them about Balletstuff. It does not matter where they live Alison sells all over Australia.
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