With so much else on your plate, from navigating virtual learning to keeping your studio afloat, it can be tempting to to cut corners or to settle for less in order to check "costumes" off of this season's to-do list. Ultimately, though, finding a costume vendor you trust is paramount to keeping your stress levels low and parent satisfaction high, not to mention helping your students look—and feel—their absolute best. Remember: You are the client, and you deserve exceptional service. And costume companies like A Wish Come True are ready to go above and beyond for their customers, but it's important that you know what to ask for. Here are some tips to make sure you are getting the most out of your costume company.
Personalized Attention<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyNzU5MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMjI3ODAxM30.vWctFbtd38AbcuBVT65dNV77cQoSXbA6-u3RLIvzWbI/img.jpg?width=980" id="b6ea5" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b1ea54f95510ab3ca1b1fec8626189de" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Rosa D'Aleo on her visit to A Wish Come True's Bristol, PA, factory
Courtesy D'Aleo<p>Developing a relationship with your sales contact will help you understand the company's procedures and fulfillment processes, and they'll learn your style preferences and specific needs. Are you currently on a first-name basis with your sales representative? If not, you might want to rethink whether you're getting the best customer service experience. </p><p>Luckily, it doesn't take much effort on your part to get the ball rolling. Renee Stojek, A Wish Come True's Marketing Director, explains, "You can take small steps to building a relationship, like signing up for a quick Zoom meeting, or following the company on <a href="https://www.facebook.com/awishcometruedance" target="_blank">Facebook</a> or<a href="https://www.instagram.com/wishdancecostumes/" target="_blank"> Instagram</a>."</p><p>When Rosa D'Aleo opened Royal Dance Center of Babylon, New York, in 2014, she first researched several companies before choosing one for her recital costumes. She was most impressed with <a href="https://awishcometrue.com/" target="_blank">A Wish Come True</a> in Bristol, Pennsylvania, and she is still working with the same sales rep she's had since day one. "I went to their annual costume show, met the owner, got a factory tour, and was really impressed with the quality of the costumes," she says. "That first year, I didn't have to return a single costume—the sizes were right on, and their customer service was everything."</p>
Quality<p>Some vendors manufacture their costumes in overseas factories, which might help bring down costs, but doesn't always guarantee a consistent, quality product. Plus, production can take longer, which can then impact shipping and arrival estimates. "You pay for what you get. A Wish Come True is charging appropriately for the quality you receive, and it's made right here in the U.S.," D'Aleo says. "I know everything is going to come on time and it's going to fit my students."</p><p>For 30 years, the family-owned business has had a goal to create the highest-quality, American-made dance costumes with the most dependable fit and exceptional customer service, says Stojek. <a href="https://awishcometrue.com/" target="_blank">A Wish Come True'</a>s offices, factory, and customer service teams are all under one roof, so it's an easy conversation amongst colleagues to see whether an order can be expedited or if a certain fabric lot is still available. "Fabric dye lots can change over time, and that's important to know when your costumes need to have the exact same look onstage," Stojek says. "We can tell you if it has changed, or if you call for an exchange, we'll be able to get you the exact same costume."</p>
Special Requests<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyNDE2NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNDE2NDU2NX0.Wib8L9_u6P-Ovu7Xb43qwA-__G-RSyvqnFWQymoVe48/img.jpg?width=980" id="48488" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="3db542008981f64546950fd2f5dd1328" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Courtesy A Wish Come True<p>What happens if you find the perfect costume to fulfill your artistic vision, but there isn't an option for the lone boy in class? Or, what if one of your younger dancers requires an adult size? Can your vendor handle special requests like these in a timely manner?</p><p>D'Aleo says she's had students grow out of their costumes before showtime, and A Wish Come True was willing to do a size exchange for her. She's also requested costumes for her male students, so they had costumes to match or complement what the girls were wearing. "They'll make it happen. It's phenomenal," she says. "With other companies, it just isn't the same."</p>
Discounts<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyNDE3Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMzUwNzI5NX0.Kfo-dwZyaIIPWUfffFta9pme2iKNJbPr2CY3_aHdVP4/img.jpg?width=980" id="7e376" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e8c7babd7d844216bad8ed051553b103" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Courtesy A Wish Come True<p>Is your vendor helping you reach your maximum potential benefits? Ask them about the company's volume discount structure, and if it offers any loyalty plans. The more you order, the bigger the discount. And some vendors give extra perks in return for your continued loyalty.</p><p>One way to get the best volume discount is by combining recital, holiday, competition and dance-team catalog orders. At <a href="https://awishcometrue.com/" target="_blank">A Wish Come True</a>, for example, the volume discount provides 8 percent off of a $1,500 order—and the savings increase as the order size increases.</p><p>A Wish Come True also offers another discount when you participate in a<a href="https://awishcometrue.com/costume-shows" target="_blank"> free in-person or virtual costume showcase tailored just for your studio.</a> Make an appointment to shop the company's full collection in its showroom, or gather your teachers together for a personalized Zoom call. Whichever way you do it, you not only get the newest catalog and some fun promo items in advance, you'll get a $100 credit or an additional 3 percent discount for attending in person, or a $100 credit for attending virtually.</p><p>"You can really increase your discount right off the bat, especially if you start getting free shipping or free size exchanges," Stojek says. "Let your teachers know what two or three books you'll be ordering from so you can get the best discounts. That will also make it so much less complicated for the studio owner or office manager."</p>
The Bottom Line<img lazy-loadable="true" src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQyNDE3Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NDkxMzc0M30.hjHNvkJxJPv4Ccq0iVMX5MXprfnw4GhJyEWIQ1jUWW0/img.jpg?width=980" id="2ee61" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="af6eb81d0ddb4917ce58f819304fe076" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Courtesy A Wish Come True<p>"The bottom line is, the more your costume company knows about you, the better they can serve you," says Stojek. "Small family-owned businesses like A Wish Come True can be flexible to fit your studio's unique needs."</p>
The current pandemic has studio owners everywhere rethinking business as usual. One dirty little secret that's been exposed? Before COVID-19, many of us weren't giving our floors nearly enough attention. As Derryl Yeager, founder and artistic director of Odyssey Dance Theatre in Draper, UT, says, "A lot of times, the floor wouldn't be deep-cleaned more than once a month—and dance floors can get pretty gross!"
This new era is a perfect opportunity to start taking better care of your studio flooring—which, in turn, will help ensure a healthy, supportive surface for your dancers and teachers. We turned to two studio owners and Harlequin Floors, the global leader in advanced technology dance flooring, for advice on keeping your dance studio floors in top shape this season.
The Right Stuff<p>Contrary to popular belief, cleaning your floors more often will <em>not</em> shorten their life. Quite the opposite, in fact: Harlequin Floors advises that removing dust, dirt, spills and sweat quickly will keep flooring slip-resistant and long-lasting. It's all about which products you use—and, maybe more importantly, <em>don't</em> use. Floor waxes, finishes, or sealers should never come near your studio flooring. Any oil-treated brooms and mops are also a hard no.</p><p><a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/" target="_blank">Harlequin Floors</a> has long offered the gold standard for cleaning in their <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/shop/cleaning-maintenance/daily-cleaner/" target="_blank">Daily Cleaner:</a> a biodegradable, low-toxin solution especially formulated for vinyl flooring. To meet the concerns of the COVID-19 era, they've formulated a new product: <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/shop/cleaning-maintenance/daily-cleaner-disinfectant/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the Daily Cleaner + Disinfectant.</a> It works just like the classic <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/shop/cleaning-maintenance/daily-cleaner/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Daily Cleaner, </a>with the additional feature of EPA-approved effectiveness against the coronavirus.</p><p>Bea Rashid, director of the Dance Center Evanston in Illinois, suggests reaching out to the manufacturer of your floors for guidance on which products to choose. "Because flooring is such a huge investment, I want to be sure that whatever I use will extend the life of the floors, while also getting them really clean," she says. In addition to <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/cleaning-and-maintenance-tips/" target="_blank">floor type-specific cleaning tips,</a> Harlequin Floors Account Executives are ready to answer any additional questions their customers may have when it comes to enhanced health and safety protocol in the studio. </p>
Consistency Is Key<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/adFlIbgEO4Y" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>That "really clean" daily routine means starting by sweeping or vacuuming to pick up loose dirt and dust. Then your solution of choice comes into play. Rashid wet-mops with <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/shop/cleaning-maintenance/daily-cleaner-disinfectant/" target="_blank">Harlequin's Daily Cleaner + Disinfectant,</a> leaving the antibacterial solution wet on the floor for 10 minutes afterwards. In high-square-footage studios like Yeager's where a single mop may not cut it, Harlequin's high-speed <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/products/harlequin-micromini-floor-scrubber/" target="_blank">Floor Scrubber </a>can help you get the job done more quickly and efficiently. </p><p>Next, any stubborn scuff marks can be removed from the floor using <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/shop/cleaning-maintenance/heavy-duty-cleaner/" target="_blank">Harlequin's Heavy Duty Cleaner</a><u>, </u>which is also ideal for high-traffic areas. Finally, use a wet-dry vacuum to remove all liquid from flooring, and let dry overnight.<br></p><p>Many studios, including Dance Center Evanston, are now scheduling 15 minutes in between classes to lightly disinfect studio spaces. Because the Daily Cleaner + Disinfectant is also <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/shop/cleaning-maintenance/daily-cleaner-disinfectant/" target="_blank">suitable for hard, non-porous surfaces </a>(barres, walls, tables, chairs, etc.), the phosphate-free, broad-spectrum germicidal benefits can be put to use multiple times a day.</p>
The More You Know<p>You already know that transparency about disinfecting procedures is crucial to help parents feel good about sending their dancers back into the studio this fall. As Yeager says, "We've been very upfront about the extra precautions we've been taking to be as safe as possible, including proven anti-COVID-19 measures like the <a href="https://us.harlequinfloors.com/en/shop/cleaning-maintenance/daily-cleaner-disinfectant/" target="_blank">Daily Cleaner + Disinfectant."</a></p><p>How can studio owners make sure their floor-cleaning procedures form part of a cohesive, effective antiviral approach? "I've done a lot of reading and attended some online workshops on what to do to combat COVID-19—and I've reached out to Harlequin several times," says Rashid. "They're doing the research at the same time, so I feel comfortable following their lead."</p>
In the "new normal" of dance training shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing has become clear: Having a solid plan for virtual dance instruction is crucial to helping studios stay afloat. Luckily, CLI Studios has been leading the online dance education scene since 2014. And with its Studio Partnership Program, CLI has helped studios nationwide fill in the gaps in their student learning experience, often becoming a lifeline for them during the pandemic.
CLI's Studio Partnership Program, a membership-based online platform, works directly with local studio owners to keep students engaged, teachers inspired, and studios profitable, no matter what pandemic-related restrictions they may be facing. With over 800 recorded dance classes in a range of styles, continuing-education resources for teachers, and live-streaming events for students, the program includes everything dance teachers and studio owners need to create a thriving online curriculum, which opens up time and resources for those same teachers to focus on in-person training.
Customizable Content<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzc5OTQ4My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0ODk0NzM4NX0.ua28B_SKBahb8uJfmHw3JkanIwt0tNnOALjtHbKYkao/img.jpg?width=980" id="4beb7" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="54138a8097964d8e6bd20d728a080e9d" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Students at Encore Performance Company have kept up a structured training regimen at home during the pandemic thanks to CLI's Studio Partnership Program.
Courtesy Kim Niblett<p>The<a href="https://studios.clistudios.com/" target="_blank"> Studio Partnership Program's</a> flexibility allows teachers to provide quality structured training to their dancers, who may otherwise be overwhelmed with the flood of virtual options that have sprung up during the pandemic. A teacher can determine what level and style of classes they want their students to have access to, and with classes in just about every dance style and level and new ones being added each week, the options are abundant.<br></p><p>When COVID-19 came to Vestavia Hills, AL, earlier this year, Kim Niblett of Encore Performance Company knew that her students were in good hands. "We had been partnering with CLI since 2016, so we knew that there would be age-appropriate content," she says. "There's a lot of media out there. With CLI, parents don't have to worry about what their kids will accidentally stumble onto." While students sheltered in place, Niblett gave them "homework assignments"—combinations to learn from a CLI video. Then, she'd connect with students on Zoom to review what they'd learned.</p>
Live Connections<p> "When the pandemic hit, we didn't miss a beat," says Beth Bryson, owner of The Dancer's E.D.G.E. in Brentwood, TN. "We went straight online. Because we had CLI set up, switching to Zoom was a very easy transition. I didn't lose classes, students, or tuition." Bryson says that even before the pandemic, she was eager to capitalize on the program's live offerings. With new CLI-exclusive events added to the library each month, there's always something available to help you expand your students' knowledge, from audition workshops to world-premier performances. </p>
Star Power<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzgzNjU0NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMTI2NDQzMn0.nO_LwenPl7JgCaikQ3xX-U5eS6Iz2SkY-OvHnNLYmS8/img.jpg?width=980" id="dfa3f" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="e86c771f4e79857b0d3577ca24119c21" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
CLI Studios teacher Kathryn McCormick leading class
Courtesy CLI Studios<p>CLI's roster of teachers alone is enough to inspire many studio owners. "It has exposed dancers to the best choreographers and teachers in the industry," says Bryson. Student favorites include tWitch, Allison Holker, Brian Friedman, Tiler Peck, Misha Gabriel, Kathryn McCormick, Mark Meismer, and Teddy Forance.<br></p><p>McCormick, who has been a CLI teacher since its inception, loves that she has been able to reach so many different types of dancers through the program, from recreational to competitive to professional. "The program can be a wonderful way to give your students a glimpse at the professional dance world while doing it all in the safety of your home studio," she says. "It's a convenient way to add a consistent source of outside inspiration into your home program."</p>
Courtesy CLI Studios
Providing Profitability<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzc5ODA5MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwNzUwNDcwM30.vC4TadmmlZD5YlyBO8zO-Wqnny8NX_LPScfjoJXNdFs/img.jpg?width=980" id="f9440" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c76f185569ca89931401e5039f6796dd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Dancers at Encore Performance Company after a virtual CLI class with Teddy Forance
Courtesy Kim Niblett<p>At just $99 per month for a membership and a free trial to start, the <a href="https://studios.clistudios.com/" target="_blank">Studio Partnership Program </a>enables studios to get a huge bang for their buck. Both Bryson and Niblett have students pay a separate CLI fee to use the program, which not only covers the cost of the studio's membership, but has been profitable for them, as well. Thanks to her solid financial footing, Bryson has been able to keep her full faculty employed throughout the pandemic.</p>
Keeping Teachers Engaged and Inspired<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzgwMDA0MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwODg0NTIxOH0.2EwIl55nau1UmKlu9OGogcTD1LttLzNLlz7bNLxw4PI/img.jpg?width=980" id="005e0" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="a202f3654319924dcbf383c88cc8768f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Students at The Dancers E.D.G.E. finishing up a class with Jaime Donovan
Courtesy Beth Bryson<p>In the spirit of a true partnership, CLI's <a href="https://studios.clistudios.com/" target="_blank">Studio Partnership Program</a> uniquely engages studio owners and teachers through its continuing-education resources. "I think the key to our platform is that we always start with inspiring a studio's teachers first," says Arpino. "More inspired teachers means a better overall dance studio." Bryson uses CLI to keep up with changes in the industry, and she's particularly enjoyed incorporating what she's learned about injury prevention into her program. Niblett agrees. "As dance teachers, I know that there's been a lot of fear that if you give your students access to do everything virtual at home then there's no need for a studio. That is not true," she says. "CLI promotes in-studio training and local teachers. They have always supported them, especially through the<a href="https://studios.clistudios.com/" target="_blank"> Studio Partnership Program."</a></p>