In this feature we share a great chat with Julie Santefort, the Founder of the go-to source for products to support the lifestyle of young competitive dancers: Sugar!
Sugar is the original dancer's subscription box
We have heard that Sugar was born from the care you have for your daughter in helping her navigate competitive dance. What were some of the most challenging experiences you had in helping her get what she need?
For us, it was time. There is no off-season with dance and with Brooke not yet being old enough to drive (as most competitive dancers), we are always on the go. There never seems to be a convenient time to run to a dance store to get the products she needed. Also with competitive dancers, they really need a full-range of items to not only train but to be ready for stage. Many competitive dancers can take the stage more than 20 times per season!
Julie Santefort was inspired to launch Sugar to help solve the challenges supporting her daughter's competitive dance lifestyle
Do you find that other people less familiar with the behind the scenes of dance have difficulty appreciating the physical challenges of competitive dancers?
I'm sure that's true with any high-level sport. Brooke, like most competitive dancers, started dancing when she was only 2 and began training competitively at the age of 5 along with competitive gymnastics. Her training evolved from 5 or so hours per week into training 5-7 days per week with typically 8 hour rehearsal days. She has been involved with dance intensives where she has had 16 hour days with only a short lunch and dinner break. But was absolutely thrilled with the opportunity and would do it all over again.
I was a competitive athlete into my early 30's but did not grow up a dancer. I had no idea when I signed her up for that first ballet class what was ahead. I would think that most people who are not in the dance world would have no idea that the dance life is so intense. Now, I would say that these athletes have a calling.
iON is featured among the great products in this month's Sugarhaul Subscription Bag! Get yours from Sugarhaul.com!
What are some of the most common physical challenges that young competitive dancers face?
The top physical challenge with every dancer I know is sleep! Since most dancers are in school, many choose to home school due to training, their top four lifestyle pieces are dance, school (and homework), eating, and sleep. And they only have time for three, so sleep typically gets the short end.
Another top physical challenge for dancers is healthy feet! Not only do Dancers work extremely hard to get their feet technically correct but because they spend so many hours using them, they can get very beat up. Blisters, no toenails, bleeding - its just beautiful haha.
Crafted with Frankincense, Tea Tree Oil, Turmeric and Eucalyptus
We have been extremely fortunate to have had only some minor issues such as tendinitis in both knees and a popping hip, both resolved with physical therapy. But I know many dancers and have seen many who have suffered a wide range of injuries and chronic issues ranging from broken bones, knee issues and even a broken back.
Another common issue is hyper-flexibility. With social media, it has become the benchmark. Unfortunately, attaining hyper-flexibility, if not worked on correctly, can really cause some long-term joint instability.
What advice would you give a parent or young person who is considering pursuing competitive dance at a high level?
Be ready to take out the checkbook! It is by far the most expensive "sport" for a child. If your child competes a half dozen conventions including travel, training, choreography, costumes, and everything that you'll need, an inexpensive year will be about $12k. If you get into intensives and privates you could push $15-20k plus.
I'm thinking you would rather hear about from a physical training angle, lol.
There are so many things to discuss but my top piece of advice would be to let your child determine the intensity of pursuit. You will definitely know if your child wants more training, they will be begging you for it. If you push them, they will get burned out. I'm sure there are exceptions but every dancer I know who is in the top tier really has a very driven personality. They not only love to dance but are extremely competitive.
Sugar's Youtube is a great source of insightful training videos!
Check out one of their SugarPro's sharing a great foot warm-up routine!
Can you tell us more about Team Sugar?
Building teams is actually one of my passions and building a young dancers self-esteem is one of the best parts of my business. I have developed several social media teams of ambassadors but unlike any other ambassador programs I have seen, my teams are a mentorship program. The dancers can be part of the "Sugarfamily" for just a day as a Sugarfeature, when its convenient for them as a Sugartribe Ambassador-at-Large, or as an engaged ambassador on Teamsugar. If they complete a season of Teamsugar, fully engaged, they are then invited to our elite ambassador team, Sugarpros.
Sugar...Adding a little more fun to what dancers are passionate about!
In the mentorship program, not only do I provide them with ambassador tips and lessons but I provide a platform where the ambassadors actually become very good friends. The platform really helps them to grow their presence, network in the US dance community, and build their own social media brand. Most of the dancers gain many other opportunities during their time on Teamsugar.
Where and When can we next see Sugar in action?
It is Christmas season so for retail, that means the busiest time of the year. I've had many companies reach out to collaborate but until mid January, I will be overseeing the retail operations, hands-on. After the busy season, I am in discussion with a couple photographers and may put together some photo events - possibly one in the Chicago area and one in the LA area. My events are always announced on Brooke's Instagram first @brooke.santefort followed by Sugar's main Instagram @sugarhaulco. Brooke and I are always super excited to meet any of the Sugarfamily so if you do happen to see us at a dance convention or out and about, be sure to stop and say hello!!
Check out Sugar.com for their full apparel line including leotards, leggings, activewear and streetwear!
Follow Everything Cool with Sugar!