This guest post comes to us from Dajuan Kinney, owner of Polerform, a fitness clothing company that specializes in pole fitness and aerial wear. We asked her to tell the story of how her love of costume creation and the aerial arts led to creating her own business.
I started Polerform in 2013. It actually started almost by accident.
I’ve always made my own costumes, ever since I was a kid. Once people around my pole studio saw that I sewed, they started requesting small things here or there. Eventually that grew into some of the performers requesting stage costumes.
A short while later, one of my “pole moms” (the person who taught me pole) informed me that I would be having a booth at the North American Pole Dance Championships, and she started researching how to make that happen. Not wanting to disappoint my pole mom, I agreed, and BOOM! Polerform was born.
I started making my own pole clothes out of necessity. I have trouble finding sports bras that fit well because I’m 32F. Sports bras tend to have either too little fabric or they are way too loose, offering no support. Either option is a wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen. The ones that did fit properly are incredibly ugly and expensive.
So, one thing I vowed to do when I started Polerform is make clothes for every body type. Last summer, I was involved in a pole wear fashion show. My MC made sure to mention that my clothes are custom-made so we can help people of every body type, especially people who are bustier than the average. After that, I had several people come up to my booth and thank me for making clothes that would actually fit them properly and that were affordable and cute. I got several on the spot orders and hugs. It was at that moment that I knew I was doing something right.
For now, Polerform is my side job. I find that creating clothing and costumes is a nice counterbalance to my day job as a math professor. My studio attended a competition this Memorial Day weekend, and fifteen of our seventeen performers are wearing Polerform.
I don’t know if I should admit this or not, but I actually have no formal training in sewing or clothing creating. My mom showed me how to work her sewing machine when I was a kid, and I took one 4 week course on how to work my machine and that’s it. I picked up everything else along the way.
Operating and troubleshooting sewing machines is one of the top skills I needed to learn to make my business a success, along with pattern-making. One thing that would probably surprise people is how much math I use in clothing creation. I use ratios, various geometry concepts, and algebra every time I sew. For example, if a pattern only allows for a 28” waist and my customer’s waist is 36”, then out come my tape measure, calculator, and pencil. It’s time to make some ratios.
Another thing that might surprise you: It is often easier to completely remake an item than it is to make changes on an existing item. Sewing a seam generally takes a couple seconds with a machine. Removing the same seam can take anywhere from a couple minutes to an hour, depending on the seam and its location on the garment. Any time I have to make a change on an item, I do a quick cost/benefit analysis to decide which would be easier, ripping a seam or starting over. I would say that about 50% of the time, starting over is the better option.
What’s next for me? My short term goals are to expand to sell at more shows during the year. Last year, I had a booth at three shows. This year, I have four lined up so far. I would also like to increase my online presence. Currently I use Facebook and Etsy, but eventually I’d like to have my own dedicated site and web store. My big, long term goal is to be one of the big names in fitness and stage wear.
Dajuan Kinney is the owner/operator of Polerform. She lives in Des Moines, IA with her husband and son. She found her pole home, TGR Fitness, in 2012 and fell in love right away. She loves performing new pole routines because it’s her excuse to make new pole costumes for herself.