|When Roger and Maxine Lovell formed Midland Ballet Shoe Co. Ltd. in Rushden a year ago they laid the foundations of a flourishing family business.
Very soon their fathers both of whom had a lifetime’s experience in the shoe trade came out of retirement in their 70’s to help and married daughter Nicola Perry took over the supervision of the closing room.
Now, with its quality dance shoes in demand throughout Britain and Europe, this family concern has found its feet.
In its first year, the company produced around 120,000 pairs of ballet and jazz shoes for the top end of the market. Judging by its rate of expansion it looks certain to better the figure by 80,000 pairs this year.
From a staff of three, the company has grown rapidly and now employs 18, with two outworkers. Its contribution towards job creation in the county has been recognised by the Northamptonshire Enterprise Agency which recently awarded the company £500 from its Small Business Grants Scheme. This makes a total of £2,000 received by Midland Ballet Shoe from the scheme.
Roger Lovell decided to branch out of his own after previously being a director of a local shoe company and having had 20 years experience in the trade, making everything from army boots to slippers.
Recognising the opportunities in the dance shoe market, he began work with his wife Maxine, who has qualifications in ballet from her dancing days, and young shoe worker Phil Holmes, now his manager, in a small factory behind the High Street.
In the close knit dance world, word of mouth recommendation is the key to success. “Since landing our first order for 1,000 pairs of ballet shoes I have not had to go out looking for custom”, remarks Mr. Lovell. “The word has got around and wholesalers have been approaching us.”
Ballet shoes are hand-made with specific attention to fit and colour. European pink is the traditional shade required by ballet shoes in this country, although the company produces ballet and jazz shoes in a wide range of colours to match tutus, leotards and particular costumes.