Shop: FreeStyle Dancewear
Shop Owner: Samantha Selihar
Location: Guelph, Ontario, Canada
Expertise: Our store has a deeply rooted expertise in all styles of dance, specializing in ballet and expert pointe shoe fittings.
What is your background and what led you to start your business?
As a current dance educator with a degree in dance education, teaching certifications, and registered teacher status, I have a passion for all things dance. I continue my own dance training and adjudicate at dance competitions between my regular teaching.
When the opportunity presented itself to buy the local dance retail store, I knew it was right for me. With my extensive knowledge of how dancers need to move, I knew I would be able to successfully recommend the right products to serve today’s dancers.
What keeps you going and doing what you're doing as a store owner?
Mostly my students. As a teacher, I am always trying to come up with new training plans to help my students achieve their goal, whether it’s strengthening, increasing flexibility, or just successfully executing a new movement. Sometimes using a training tool, such as resistance bands or foot roller, can help, but most of the time it’s just making sure that they are wearing the right gear so that they are comfortable enough to move without inhibition.
What do you love most about providing dancewear to your community?
I love that dancers and their families do not have to travel long distances to get expert advice and a large selection. It makes dance feel a little more accessible if families can get everything they need within the same community that they dance in.
What are some favorite brands that your store carries, and why?
PointePeople: I love how easy it is to apply, and that it comes in so many skin tone options as well as fun and vibrant colors. With options for leather or canvas paint, it is the more versatile option for dancers that have to wear a specific shoe for their studio uniform policy or want to customize the color of their preferred footwear.
Hairstrong: I love the background story behind this brand: a student at the Ivy business school at Western University created these customizable scrunchies for all different hair types as a school project. Her professor loved the idea and put her in touch with contacts that helped make her product a reality. These scrunchies are customizable to hold your hair in a ponytail or bun no matter how intense your training session and are available in different sizes and colors.
Ainsliewear: I love Ainsliewear because all of their dancewear is designed and created in Canada. Their designs are the highest quality and offer the latest fashions.
What sets your store apart from other dancewear retailers, and why?
Aside from having current first-hand knowledge of the needs of today’s dancers, what sets us apart from other retailers is that we have a vast background knowledge of how dancers’ feet work within pointe shoes from both the anatomical and training perspectives.
Pointe shoe fitters do not have to go to a special school, although they should commit to long-term training. They may not fully understand the demands that dancers place on their feet in pointe shoes or the intricacies of physiology and how it applies to pointe training. We truly are pointe shoe experts and pride ourselves in getting each dancer the right fit.
Are there any new dancewear and/or accessory trends you’ve noticed lately?
We have noticed more and more dance studios amending their uniform policy to allow for skin tone shoes and tights in ballet classes. We are hoping this trend will continue with more and more professional dancers sharing their experiences with racism in the industry, hopefully paving the way for a more inclusive atmosphere for future dancers.
What are some of your best-selling products?
Right now it’s definitely the original Bloch B-Safe mask in the classic black and skin tone colors. Dancers love how soft it is and that it comes in both the child and adult sizes. I’ve tried so many, and it’s the only one I wear for dancing and teaching.
A lot of dancers struggle to find pointe shoes that fit correctly and flatter their feet. Do you have any advice for finding the perfect pair of pointe shoes?
Make an appointment with a professional fitter. Sometimes dancers skip the appointment and just reorder the same shoes if their feet haven’t grown, but the reality is that feet change often. Depending on the amount of time spent training, the demands of the training, and even hormones, the way your feet fit in your shoes can change.
Ask questions. Sometimes dancers are under time constraints to get new shoes and go to the store where they can get the earliest appointment. Ask your teacher and peers about their experiences and if they can recommend where you should go. When making your appointment, ask the store about their training procedures and background knowledge with pointe shoes and pointe training.
In your opinion, is there a “must-have” item for any dancer?
If you are dancing en pointe, you must have a mesh bag for your shoes for after class. The best way to have your shoes last as long as possible is to make sure they dry out completely after each wear.
What made you make the decision to carry Pointe Paint?
Pointe Paint really is the easiest, most versatile, and most affordable way to color/ dye your shoes. I think most people think of pointe shoes when they hear of dancers having to dye their shoes, but Pointe Paint works for all dance shoes - even leather taps!
What’s one thing you want customers to know about you and/or your store?
FreeStyle Dancewear is so much more than a dance apparel boutique. All of our team members have dance experience and are currently involved in the dance community in some capacity, ensuring that we are up to date on trends, issues, and products that dancers need to express themselves creatively and have fun!
Is there anything else you'd like to share with the PointePeople community?
Do what you love 💕
Location: 25 Victoria Road North, Unit 7 | Guelph, Ontario, N1E 5G6 | Canada
Phone: (519) 836-8609
Facebook: FreeStyle Dancewear