Russian Pointe Retailer: Toe to Toe Dance Wear
It was 1998, and Stefanic was a high school student working at Debonaire, another dancewear store in Flint, when Aleksandra Efimova came into the store to introduce Russian Pointe, a new brand of pointe shoes that she was launching from her college dorm room at Eastern Michigan University.
Fifteen years later, Debonaire is no longer in business, but Russian Pointe is still going strong, selling thousands of pointe shoes across the United States every year.
“It’s great to see that somebody has come so far,” Stefanic says of Aleksandra.
Today, Stefanic says Russian Pointe shoes are one of the most popular brands they sell at Toe to Toe. “We’ve been doing extremely well with it,” she says. “It’s basically one of our top-selling brands.”
When Russian Pointe shoes were first developed, they had hard shanks, which are popular among Russian professional dancers, but were difficult for many Cecchetti-based dancers in the United States to get used to. But Stefanic says once Russian Pointe introduced the flexible shanks, which made it easier for dancers to roll up onto pointe, their popularity skyrocketed.
Stefanic, herself, was trained in ballet and got her first job at a dancewear store when she was 16. After graduating from college with a degree in early childhood education, Stefanic realized that dance was what she loved most, and she went back to working at the dancewear store as well as teaching dance classes.
Then eight years ago, Toe to Toe, a store that sold ballroom dance shoes, hired Stefanic to add shoes, clothes and accessories for ballet, tap, jazz and other types of dance.
Since then, Stefanic has built up the store’s reputation as a go-to destination for pointe shoes in the area.
As a retailer, Stefanic likes Russian Pointe’s variety of styles, widths and shanks that allow her to find the perfect fit for any dancer. “[Russian Pointe] just offers a lot of variations without it being too confusing,” she says.
Having a long-lasting shoe, such as Russian Pointe, is also an asset in Flint, where times have been tough in the past few years. “Because of the economic climate we’ve been in, price is a huge concern,” Stefanic says. “Educating them on how they can get the most bang for their buck is important.”
Stefanic stresses that the best way for dancers to make their shoes last longer is to let them dry out between classes. She recommends removing the toe pads, taking the shoes out of your dance bag, and taking the shoes out of the car where they are exposed to extremes in temperature. For more advanced dancers, Stefanic suggest buying more than one pair at a time and rotating them.
Stefanic says she’s proud to sell Russian Pointe shoes. “I think it’s a great product,” she says. “I’ve had great feedback from dancers regarding the Russian Pointe shoes, and it doesn’t get any better than that.”