Tucked away near rickety RTD rail lines in Denver’s Santa Fe art district lies a white warehouse. Only a sign with the inscription “Luckyleo”, accompanied by a green four-leaf clover, distinguishes the inconspicuous building.
Inside, however, something rare is happening. Sisters and self-taught seamstresses Heather Walker and Chelsea Early create custom jerseys in a workshop, from sketch to fit. Known as Luckyleo Dancewear and loved by professional dancers and gymnasts, the full-service design, production and manufacturing facility is one of the few dancewear companies to manufacture the entire garment in-house.
Walker and Early ballerinas have been in Arizona for most of their lives. Then, in their early twenties, each dancer suffered career-ending injuries that forced them to reassess the future. “After dancing, it can be a bit scary because you spend all your years just training for it,” says Early. “You don’t have room for much more.” In search of their next career step, the sisters took up sewing and found they had a knack for creating the garments they once wore for practice and performances. So they opened an Etsy shop: “We decided to take a leap and work together and make this business our own,” says Early.
Success with the Etsy shop gave them the confidence to open a brick and mortar store in Phoenix, where they worked side-by-side in a small building outside of a pawn shop. But it wasn’t until 2016 that Luckyleo relocated to Denver that his recognition grew. “We moved to Colorado because we were so inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit here,” says Early. “We didn’t really feel it in Phoenix, and when we moved to Colorado we saw a huge leap in our interest in the dance community. It has been so exciting to see how we grow and grow with each passing year.”
Luckyleo Dancewear is well known in dance communities around the world for their feminine designs – floral prints are owners’ favourites – and custom creations for customers and businesses alike. “Customers can build anything they want from scratch,” says Early. “So our team here has to pay extremely close attention to detail. Our sewing team are artists themselves.” And that artistry has drawn the pros: dancers and gymnasts from Dance Academy Denver to the New York City Ballet don Luckyleo leotards and casual athletic attire.
The popularity of the brand can be gauged from the enthusiasm of its customers on social media. “Luckyleo Day,” which falls on St. Patrick’s Day each year, is a corporate holiday. “The online social community started tagging #luckyleoday on St. Patrick’s Day, so we decided to keep doing it,” Early said. “This is the biggest day of the year for us,” says Walker. “Everyone in the workshop is dressed in green from head to toe.” The company is also releasing an exclusive jersey design, only available on Luckyleo Day, and store-wide sales will be announced on social media on March 17th.
Those deals aren’t the only reason customers need to celebrate the brand: By summer, the sisters at Luckyleo Dancewear plan to expand their leotard sizing capabilities to include plus-size dancers. The company currently offers five sizes and plans to add five more (XL Plus, 2X, 3X, and 4X). “The fact that we print in-house gives us more choice,” says Early. “We want to support dancers of all sizes. We want to add creativity to our designs and support non-professional dancers who want to wear our products.”