Pivoting to the Ballroom Box – An Interview with the Owner of Dance Dress Couture

Please welcome to the blog Duffy Betterton! She and her mother Debi Camp are the co-founders and co-owners of Dance Dress Couture (DDC). Duffy and I connected last year and through our partnership, The Girl with the Tree Tattoo was introduced to the country western dance world. DDC was forced to shut down like so many other businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Duffy isn’t one to sit back and wait though. She pivoted by bringing a whole new product to the dance community! I invited her here to share the story behind this new product.

Without further ado…

First, there was dance.

Duffy has been a dancer for most of her life. She started with the usual ballet, jazz and tap when she was young. She joined an unofficial dance team in college who performed simply because they loved to dance. She also spent many evenings line dancing and two stepping at the local watering holes.

Her first introduction to the ballroom dances came when she and her new husband took a community workshop in East Coast Swing. They loved it! Thanks to his music background, Duffy’s husband turned out to be a great dancer and strong leader.

Like so many, they started out just enjoying the social dance scene. Fast forward a few years and three kids, they became members of a ballroom studio and performed their first showcase to a Foxtrot song from Xanadu. It was such a blast that they ended up bringing it to a competition. That event was a turning point for Duffy because she discovered she LOVED the competition scene.

Since then, Duffy has been competing as a pro-am student in both ballroom and country western (her husband preferred to stick to social dancing). Her mother Debi had also been taking lessons and competing out of the same ballroom studio as Duffy. As they went to competitions together, they saw an opportunity to bring value to their fellow dancers.

Then, a dance business.

Like so many of us, Duffy and her mother saw the gorgeous dresses that were available to purchase at the competitions, started imagining themselves dancing in those beautiful colors and sparkles, and then they saw the price tags. Yikes.

The idea started as a way to extend the life of these beautifully made dresses beyond the one season, or even one event, that a dancer would wear them before hanging them up in the back of a closet. As a consignment service, Dance Dress Couture could encourage women to feel confident and beautiful as they were dancing, at a price point they could more easily afford.

One of Duffy’s favorite aspects of the consignment model is the stories that come with the dresses. She shared an amazing story of a dancer who had to give up dancing due to a lung disease. She had a closet full of competition dresses that she gave to DDC to sell. At a competition in Greenville, South Carolina, two women came up to their booth, one of whom was wheelchair bound and carrying an oxygen tank. The woman in the wheelchair was a student and her teacher was helping her shop for dresses. The dress she decided to try on fit perfectly and the color matched her oxygen tank! That dress was originally owned by the woman with the lung disease.

While they have experienced less-than-positive reactions to their business model, as some view consignment or buying used dresses as “beneath” them, being a part of incredible stories like this dress connecting two women living with similar struggles pushed this mother/daughter team to keep going.

As Duffy and her mother traveled to various competitions, they delighted in seeing a customer step out of the dressing room, look in the mirror and start spinning because they felt beautiful and confident. Finding the perfect fit and perfect color or pattern was like finding a soul mate, for both the dancer and the dress. Duffy and Debi are continually inspired by their fellow dancers because no matter your size or skill level, we are all in this because we love to dance.

Thinking inside the box.

An idea had been percolating for a few months before “pandemic” was a buzz word. It started when Duffy and her mother began building a list of things to pack in a competition bag because they needed it for their own use. They found that both new and experienced dancers were benefiting when they shared their list on DDC’s website.

At the same time, Duffy was getting subscription boxes at home like Fab Fit Fun and CauseBox. For Christmas, her daughters asked for makeup and craft subscription boxes so now, thanks to grandparents, their household receives 3-5 boxes per month with items that her girls love. Duffy said the joy every time a box arrives is contagious and they always gather around to see what each can “steal” from the box! Everyone loves getting physical packages in the mail, full of goodies that are specific to their interests.

These two things gave Duffy and her mother an ah-ha moment. What if they provided the actual items to dancers, instead of just a list? There are so many great items that are helpful to dancers though; they couldn’t possibly carry quantities of all of them to competitions. Providing the items to dancers throughout the year via a subscription box though…that could work!

DDC tested the box idea over the Christmas season by offering small gift boxes specifically designed for dancers. The response was very positive, so the next step was turning the idea into an ongoing subscription box that would both inspire and equip dancers on their dance journey.

2020. You know where this is going.

DDC began 2020 with a very busy January and three local competitions. Duffy and her mother were thrilled to open a local shop for Middle TN dancers in February. Then March hit and not only did they have to close the doors of their new little shop, but all competitions for the year were cancelled. Their main way to market (as a vendor at competitions) was shut down.

Stuck at home, Duffy missed her dance family and wanted to continue to serve the dance community even during a quarantine. Not to mention that they now had a physical shop with rent due. As business owners, it was definitely time to pivot.

The Ballroom Box

Duffy took advantage of her at-home time and dove into launching the subscription box idea. With the threat of COVID-19 keeping everyone home from competitions and shows, she hoped the box would be a way to share dancing and keep it exciting even during these surreal times.

This fabulous new subscription service just for dancers is called The Ballroom Box! It’s set up as a quarterly mailing of delightful treasures, both inspirational and useful. It’s flexible as well in that the recipient can pay for a year, a half year or each quarter.

The first round of boxes for the summer season has already shipped out (don’t worry, there is still a very limited opportunity for you to get your hands on one). The theme for the Summer box was “Dance at Home” and the box included:

  • A Journal for the Whole Dance Journey
  • An Album Saver
  • A mask
  • A Thera-band
  • A sachet of lavender
  • Dance Socks
  • A print to inspire

Duffy informs me that there are just a couple boxes left if this sounds like the perfect gift for yourself or a friend!

The Fall box is themed “Keep Calm and Dance On” and is already available to order. It promises to equally inspire and equip you, but be sure to subscribe soon as the box ships mid-September!

Duffy and her mother are excited that with this new offer, they get to encourage more dancers than just those they meet at local competitions. They get to share the love of dance with a larger community!

Isn’t it interesting how the 2020 pandemic has devastated this world in so many ways, and at the same time, has provided the space for new creative ideas and the opportunity for new connections?

A big thank-you to Duffy for sharing her story and her awesome new product with this blog!


Duffy has a special offer for my readers! Use the code treejournal20 for 10% off your subscription.

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