Shop: Metronome Dancewear
Store Owner: Heather Aldi
Location: Carmel, California (plus a traveling boutique, The Toe Truck!)
Expertise: We are expert pointe fitters and travel to studios with our mobile boutique all over the state to fit pointe shoes by Bloch, Capezio, Gaynor Minden, Nikolay, Freed, Suffolk, and Russian Pointe.
What is your background and what led you to start your business?
My background is in commercial architectural design. When we left Los Angeles to raise our family in a more bucolic setting, I put that career on the back burner to avoid constant travel, but I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. So, I evaluated the needs of our new community and found a thriving arts scene with no access to supplies within a three hour drive. From there, I opened a dance store and grew our mobile boutique business when I found so many dancers traveling to us for fittings from all over the state.
It became quickly apparent that many communities like ours had a growing dance interest without the support of knowledgeable dance retailers in the vicinity. I had danced when I was younger, although I would have never dared to call myself a dancer. I was always more heart than talent, but I had enough of a background in dance to understand how imperative it is to have a proper fit - especially in pointe shoes.
What keeps you going and doing what you're doing as a store owner?
The gratitude of the dancers and their families when they feel the difference between a shoe that is just “ok” and a shoe that is designed to fit the shape and strength of their foot keeps me going. Getting to see that joy on their faces and then see the results on stage makes me remember the great joy of my experience in the performing arts community when I was young.
What do you love most about providing dancewear to your community?
I love all the tiny dancers in their twirly tutus the most. Watching them try on outfits that make them feel like princesses and seeing them go twirling and leaping through the store makes me so happy. Watching them grow from bitty ballerinas to graceful pre-pro’s is one of the great joys of my life.
What are some favorite brands that your store carries, and why?
I love the consistency and ease of ordering from Bloch and Capezio. I love the quality and artistry of construction from Suffolk, and their training summit every year is invaluable. Nikolay never leaves us waiting for months on the shoes we order, which is greatly appreciated. Gaynor Minden has consistently worked to be the most cutting edge shoe on the market, and the willingness from the owners to listen to us as retailers one-on-one is noteworthy.
What sets your store apart from other dancewear retailers, and why?
We are continuously training and working towards a higher level of understanding of every pointe shoe on the market and for which type of foot it works best. We spend extended time with dancers to get the perfect fit and have invested heavily to have one of the most extensive selections of inventory on the market.
Are there any new dancewear and/or accessory trends you’ve noticed lately?We love the mesh tops available from a few design houses, but most notably, from Ballet Rosa. They turn any basic leo into an extraordinary design statement. Our dancers can't get enough of Bullet Pointe skirts, and we love the rainbow of color options. While there are many design-forward leos on the market, we still sell the classics consistently, and dancers love to have a way to make these basics anything but boring.
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?
If you do not have access to a highly trained fitter with access to inventory from every major pointe shoe company, plan a trip to see one. It is not just a shoe. It is a medical necessity. The right fit will protect the bones, ligaments, and skin of the feet. A poor fit can lead to injury or pain that makes a dancer not want to continue dancing. This is an aspect of ballet dancing that should be taken as seriously as proper training.
In your opinion, is there a “must-have” item for any dancer for a specific type of dancer?
Any person can dance, anywhere, no matter how old, what size, what economic background, skin color, gender, sexual preference. Dance is universal. The only MUST have is desire. The rest will follow. I hope that the perception of needing proper training, the right clothes, the right body, will not ever keep anyone with a desire to dance from finding joy in movement. Just crank up the volume, and do it!
What made you make the decision to carry Pointe Paint?
We decided to carry Pointe Paint because we saw a lot of dancers using makeup to pancake their shoes for performances, and the ingredients interacted badly with the paste in their boxes, causing the shoes to break down quickly and leaving them without the support needed from a stable shoe. We appreciate that the ingredients in Pointe Paint help preserve the integrity of the shoe.
What’s one thing you want customers to know about you and/or your store?
We love dancers far more than we love making a sale. Our primary focus is finding the right products to support the health of a dancer because we believe a healthy body leads to a longer dance career - and more years for us to support them as a dancer. If we do not have the right thing, we will not sell them an alternative just because it is what we have in stock. We will work to source the right item as quickly as possible.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with the PointePeople community?We love following the careers of dancers who exude joy. Joy is contagious, and this is what we need to be spreading, now more than ever.