To Reach Amateur Ballerinas, An Entrepreneur Appeals to Professionals

January 25, 2018

As one might expect from a centuries-old art form, the world of ballet doesn’t adapt to change all that quickly. For instance, many ballerinas depend on a type of pointe shoe designed more than 100 years ago consisting of paper, glue and fabric. While this style is certainly reliable, it can also create a great amount of discomfort or even injury for dancers. After all, the “pointe” in the shoe’s name refers to the ballerina’s need to stand readily on the tips of their toes throughout a performance. Striking this pose on a regular basis often leads to minor abrasions like corns as well as major injuries, such as the one that entrepreneur Kelly Schmutte experienced as a teenager.

During a solo in “Sleeping Beauty” featuring many leaps on pointe, the young dancer lost the nail on her big toe as she skipped onstage. The gruesome injury convinced Schmutte that there had to be a better way to keep her feet protected while she danced. She began developing prototype inserts for pointe shoes as an undergrad at Stanford University, continuing her research for years after graduation. Her efforts led to a final product called PerfectFit Pointe, an insert that relies on silicon putty to distribute dancers’ weight more evenly and reduce the chance of injury.

Armed with what she considered to be a revolutionary product, Schmutte next set out to convince elite dance studios to give her inserts a try. Unfortunately, most of the ballet instructors she approached were reluctant to test out the unproven inserts. So to get her product in the public eye, Schmutte decided to contact professional dancers individually rather than go through studios. She sent Instagram messages to dozens of ballerinas in major companies hoping that a few would be curious about her newly developed inserts. Schmutte soon received a number of responses from interested ballerinas who quickly became converts once they put the inserts on. Now dancers in some of the world’s most prestigious ballet companies not only wear PerfectFit Pointe inserts, but they frequently post about them online as well. Schmutte hopes this social media exposure will allow amateurs to find out about her product, allowing her to expand her business while also making ballet safer for dancers the world over.


  1. What are the advantages of using public figures in a marketing campaign? What are the disadvantages?
  2. Why are some institutions and organizations reluctant to adapt to change?

Source: Claire Martin, “Bringing Ballet Pros Relief, Down to the Tips of Their Toes,” The New York Times, January 12, 2018.

3 Responses to To Reach Amateur Ballerinas, An Entrepreneur Appeals to Professionals

  • 1. Using public figures in a marketing campaign can be beneficial because many of their fans who do similar things will also consider buying the product. This causes rapid business flow to begin. Also they can give reviews on social media to explain all the perks and express why they use it. However there are disadvantages. For instance if a public figure gets injured while using the product or there is an event where it publicly malfunctions, this can cause the consumer base to shrink because they will think it does not perform well.
    2 Some institutions and organizations are reluctant to change because of the way business can be steadily going and they don’t want to change their traditional ways yet. In these instances, the product appears to be flawed from the jump and even if if performed good they might not want to lose some of the pre-existing business deals with similar suppliers.

  • 1- The advantage using public figures in a marketing campaign is building awareness about the product before purchasing, it also influence on customer purchases that make consumer believe about the product so the sale will be increase because the product is promoted by the public figures.
    – The disadvantage of using public figures in a marketing campaign can be, if the one of the public figures make a mistake the people will not buy the product.

    2- Because people don’t trust the product and they don’t believe the product. Because the product is new and unproven inserts.

  • Monique Blockman

    Questions to Ballerina Articles
    1. The advantages of using public figures in a marketing campaign is people look up to public figures people tend to listen to their opinions more than a regular figure and word of mouth if the product is great is also an advantage. The disadvantages could be that if the product is doesn’t revolve around the figures needs it might not sell as well. Sometimes public figures have special needs for what they want to do & just because a product is not fitting for them it can be fitting for others.

    2. I believe that some institutions and organizations are reluctant to change because they have a system set in place that currently works for them and their institution or organization may be taking a risk adapting to change and some see it fit to not even risk it. Its systemic policies.

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