Outfitting the athlete

Bianca La Marra, Anne Perron, and Deanna Abernethy

Now in its 22nd year in business, Dancewear Plus continues to outfit dancers, skaters, gymnasts, and other athletes for their practices, competitions and performances. That means providing quality merchandise from leading suppliers, as well as custom-made items under owner Anne Perron’s own label, DAKS. And Dancewear Plus attire continues to show up in ballrooms, fitness competitions, cirques, and more.

Besides her entrepreneurial spirit, it was Anne Perron’s ability and love of sewing and designing that led her into the worlds of dance, skating and cheer. Making costumes for her daughters, who both danced as kids, opened up this passion for Perron, and she hasn’t looked back since. Meanwhile, all the staff members at Dancewear Plus have some experience in dance or skating, whether as a parent of a young athlete or a competitive dancer themselves. In fact, two staff members actively teach dance at their home studios, and one has been a competitive dance parent for over 20 years!

That staff consists of 10 members in total, each of whom brings something unique to the team. And their focus is on building relationships with customers – as well as studio owners, teachers, and coaches. Brick and mortar stores face their challenges, to be sure, but Dancewear Plus takes pride in its face-to-face interaction with its customers – especially the young dancers, skaters and other athletes and performers who come in the store.

“I always love seeing the faces light up as they walk through the door and see all the sparkle and colour,” says Perron, who started the business out of her own home more than two decades ago. “They can come here and be who they want to be, and we feel quite privileged to be part of their journey.”

Besides maintaining relationships (sometimes lifelong) with its customers, Dancewear Plus also serves local clubs and dance studios very well by offering various services in a way that’s most convenient to them. That includes things like group fittings, group pointe shoe fittings, group orders, and in-studio costume fittings. Meanwhile, the store is the only one of its kind in London that has on-site seamstresses (and one of the only few in Southwestern Ontario that carries cheer shoes). Besides custom costuming and alterations, the store also offers rhinestoning, professional skate sharpening, and blade mounting.

So, it’s not surprising that Dancewear Plus maintains such a loyal customer base – in London and the surrounding area, as well as from afar (for instance, a group of dancers come from Sarnia every year for custom costumes, and the store welcomes a family from Dubai who come in every year while visiting family in the area).

When she started, Perron wanted to create a space where she could welcome all levels of athletes and artists, whether recreational, competitive or professional, and go above and beyond to ensure comfort, and the best fit possible. And that continues to be her driving force today – and what continues to fuel her passion.

“Lately, I’ve been asked when I want to retire,” says Perron. “I say, as long as I continue to get excited about each costume that I work on, and am able to experience excitement day to day, who would want to retire from something they love?”

Contributions by Bianca La Marra and Anne Perron