Posted by Rebecca King on 09.05.2012
There is a new product out there on the dance market, and if you were interested in Échauffe™ Legwarmers before, you are certainly going to want a pair after reading this interview with the company’s co-founder and current New York City Ballet dancer, Cameron Dieck. Cameron tells us about building a company from the ground up while dancing full time, and about the product and quality you can expect from Échauffe. I for one am completely blown away by what he is accomplishing and am proud to support a fellow ballet dancer who has expanded their horizons and built a business in their spare time.
I hope you will join me in supporting Cameron in his new venture. In case you were unsure before, you will now be certain that ballet dancers are extremely capable onstage and off, and excel at projects that they put their minds to.
RK: You and your sister, Caitlin, founded Échauffe™ Legwarmers together. How did you two come up with this idea? What inspired you?
CD: Caitlin and I have always heard complaints about legwarmers during our collective years spent training and dancing in the ballet world. After hearing a colleague at New York City Ballet complain about their legwarmers about a year and a half ago, I just said to myself, “I can do this better”. It just occurred to me, if I don’t do this, someone else will.
In creating our line, we drew inspiration from our surroundings in New York City. NYC is a fashion Mecca and the place where many fashion houses’ creative departments are located. We really drew on this for the creation of our line. It was also extremely important to us that along with producing in the USA (to support the American economy) that we created products that were sustainable as possible. Aside from choosing raw materials that are Eco friendly, our yarn and factory are towns apart in NJ. The close proximity of our factory and yarn distributer cuts down on emissions and wasted fossil fuels in production. Another sustainable aspect of our garments is that they are all produced in wholegarment manufacturing. Each garment is one piece of yarn from top to bottom, there are no seems, which cuts down on waste in the manufacturing process. This is something that both échauffe and our customers can be really proud of!
RK: How long has this project been in the works?
CD: This project has been in the works for the past year and a half; it took about a year and a half from inception to our launch. We spent six months developing and testing our products. Every step from yarn choice, to choice of manufacturer, and product testing was meticulously evaluated to ensure the best product possible.
RK: How involved were you in the design process? How did you find your manufacturer to help bring your vision to life?
CD: Being residents of Manhattan allowed for us to be completely hands on in the creation of our products. We were lucky to team up with one of the best knitwear manufacturers in NYC who produces for some of the biggest names in fashion. We went through many different prototypes during our development. We did everything when it came to designing the products: we drew up the measurements, chose the type if knit, chose the color story, etc. It was not uncommon for a period of time for me to run down to our manufacturer’s showroom on lunch breaks to check up on prototypes. When we would get in prototypes, I would bring them to work and test them out. I would ask for my colleges to wear them and give their feedback. We would then discuss what needed to be improved and take those notes back to our knitting technicians.
RK: What was the thought process behind the design? As a dancer I am sure you have done your market research!
CD: Legwarmers have notoriously been considered by professionals and students alike to be poorly manufactured, leaving the ballet dancer with an often bulky and cumbersome product that just doesn’t cut it. We wanted to create a solid product that achieved the following…
- A new unibody seamless design. Through our research, we found that legwarmers fall apart along their seems. By constructing a garment that has no seems, a stronger more stable product has been achieved.
- A lightweight wear, which allows the wearer to see muscle definition. One of the largest complaints we have heard over the years is that legwarmers are bulky and thick, they get in the way of getting into fifth position. Our legwarmers are thin, yet warm!
- A 3/4 inch elastic band that eliminates slippage. You won’t have to pull up échauffe legwarmers up every two minutes.
- A moisture wicking design to keep the wearer dry.
All of this has been achieved while creating a beautiful design that is superior to other legwarmers made in the United States. Our mission is to design products that delight the spirit and enhance the dance performance of our clients.
RK: How were you able to find time to found a company while dancing with the New York City Ballet?
CD: There have been many late nights in the process of founding échauffe but I love the challenge. I find when one is passionate about what they are doing, they find the time to do whatever it is. Échauffe is a passion, so I make time!
RK: Have your colleagues been supportive of your new venture?
CD: My colleagues have been very supportive! I think many of them were excited during the development process to have some say and at the idea of having great products to use when the warm-ups were completed. I take great pride in looking around company class and seeing my colleagues wearing our products.
RK: What is your ultimate goal for Échauffe™ Legwarmers? How do you want to see it grow?
CD: Our ultimate goal for échauffe is to continue developing products that enhance the dancer’s experience and performance. In the near future, we will remain focused on warm-ups, more specifically knitwear. We are committed to making the best knitwear on the market for dancers!
RK: Your website is beautiful! Did you and your sister design it on your own?
CD: We designed the front end of the website but use a web backend for our store. Thanks for the compliment, we are very proud of our website! We love your blog website too!