Last winter, somewhere in the midst of record-breaking snowfall, a friend introduced me to RubiaWear leg warmers. Flattering silhouette, ultra thin fabric, soft knit, subtle stripes. Always game for a little investigation, I decided to give them a go.
When my first pair arrived in the mail, immediately I was hooked. For the remainder of the season, not one morning passed where I watched my reflection without the warm hug of my trusty Rubias. Today Boston Ballet’s Ashley Ellis, the genius behind RubiaWear, sheds a bit of light on what life has been like since creating the collection of warmers worn ’round the world…
So Ashley, how did you become inspired to start making leg warmers?
It should be noted that I am in Boston now, and well, winter here is notorious for being long with extreme conditions, so this was surely extra incentive for creating a line of ‘warm ups’!
Apart from this, I really enjoy making all sorts of things, am always busy with projects, I find it to be a nice outlet for me. Whether I’m sewing, fixing things around the house, painting, baking, or what ever else sparks my curiosity. Needless to say that when I sew I am often drawn to making things to wear in the studio because this is where I spend so much of my time.
In the months before I opened the line I had made some legwarmers for myself, simply because I had lost the ones I’d had before (by that mysterious fairy that steals dancewear left in the studio over night). I played a bit with different styles that I found to be most flattering. Then, a few friends started to ask me to make them some. As more people showed interest I thought it would be fun to make more and come up with a design to offer to my colleagues. I explored this idea step by step, and with each new detail I wanted to create a product that looked professional but maintained a unique quality. In the end I thought I might as well make it an official line and how fun it would be to offer not just to my friends, but also to anyone who would be interested.
Your tendency towards constantly finding little projects is so relatable. So, what made you decide to turn it into a business?
It wasn’t really a predetermined plan of mine, it just sort of happened. Not to say it was easy- it took a lot time, work, and educating myself on how to get it all going, but I was having fun with it so I kept going.
I knew that my colleagues were fans of the warmers but I had no idea whether or not people outside of my direct contact would be interested in buying them so I just decided to give it a shot. I did feel that if I was going to offer RubiaWear to the dance world at large I wanted the product to be of a high quality and offer an attractive platform from which I was able to sell it. Essentially, something that I myself as a dancer would want to buy and wear everyday.
Since starting with the official line of RubiaWear things have been escalating nicely which has been a very exciting ride so far. It’s been difficult to keep up with at times, and I wish I could move faster and offer more growth sooner, but this will come with time. I plan to introduce new designs, premade products to get things to customers faster.
Being a dancer is still my passion and full time concentration, so at times there are moments when I have to step back and admit that there are things that still have to wait and feel fortunate that things have escalated at the pace that they have.
I’ve always wondered, where does the name RubiaWear come from?
While dancing in Spain for three years with the Corella Ballet de España I picked up the nickname Rubia, which essentially means Blondie, and it kind of stuck. I wanted to have a part of myself in the name but didn’t really want to use my own name. So, RubiaWear has a sort of disguised part of me in it. I chose the logo and its colors because I thought suited the ‘blonde’ theme. I like that there is meaning behind it but it doesn’t have to be completely obvious.
Well, besides the fact that the Rubita sizes are so adorable? Haha. I just thought that there are so many young dance students out there who should also keep their little legs warm in between classes and to and from the studio. These ballerinas in training should also have the option to wear dancewear that is unique and showcases their sense of style, even if they do have to wear a uniform for class. I plan to offer children’s sizes whenever I can with future products as well.
What has been the most surprising/exciting/fulfilling aspect of running RubiaWear so far?
I’ve really enjoyed the learning aspect that starting RubiaWear has offered. I’ve had to learn a lot, not just about how to make warmers but how to run a business.
I’d say one of the most rewarding things has been seeing people all over the world getting excited about the product. I enjoy being in contact with the customers. I’ve received a lot of positive feedback and it gets me more excited and confident about moving forward into the future.
I have to mention that I’m grateful for how encouraging and supportive people, near and far, have been of this venture.
THANK YOU to the inspiring and beautifully articulate Ms. Ashley Ellis for sharing her story! To shop the collection (which I highly recommend), head right this way. To catch Ashley on stage, head over here.
photos by Kenneth B. Edwards