Inside Energetiks | Introducing Amy Ford, Moorabbin Platinum Store Manager
The Inside Energetiks series introduces you to the people behind your favourite dancewear brand. Amy Ford is part of our incredible Retail team in Melbourne, Victoria and manages our Platinum Superstore in Moorabbin. Like most of us here at Energetiks, Amy has a background in dance and a passion for all things dance related. We chatted to Amy about her dance life and her role at Energetiks.
How did dance become a part of your life?
I think my twin sister Elly and I started ballet when were about four or five, and we were like the terrible two! We were a nightmare and we didn’t listen to the teacher at all. We used to have these little iron-on letters A and E on the front of our leotards because no one could tell us apart, but we would cover up the letters and say to our teacher, “Guess, guess who it is!”. We were terrible, we were so distracted, so we stopped for a while. Then when we were about eleven, we were heavily involved in circus, and we went to a theatre workshop in WA where we grew up. One of the guest speakers who came to talk about performance was a teacher at a full time ballet school, and she brought two students with her, a boy and a girl. I was a bit of a tomboy as a kid and I just remember being so impressed by them talking about how dedicated you had to be, and the regime and all the training. I really wanted to do it, just because of the commitment and all the effort involved, and Elly did too, so we begged our mum, and when we were twelve, she signed us up to the local dance school.
What styles of dance have you trained in?
We did as many classes as we could, so we started with ballet and then we took on contemporary and jazz, and we were still doing circus at the time, and we did private lessons, it was everything. Then we finished school, and because our exams coincided with audition time we sent off some audition DVDs, and one of the places we got accepted to was the National Theatre Ballet School in St Kilda. I remember we were so excited, we were running around the house, and at one stage we went and watched an end of year class they did there when we were sussing out our options, and we were really impressed with the school. We knew they were going to kick our butts in to gear, so that’s where we ended up going. It was terrifying though, because we went from a country town rural dance school where it was very casual, where you could wear whatever you wanted and it was all about the fun, to the National Theatre where the level of training and everything was insane. But it was just what we needed. The main focus was ballet, so we would do a warm up, conditioning and then ballet class six days a week. They also taught us flamenco, which I’d never done before, contemporary - we had a really good contemporary teacher - jazz, character, occasionally a bit of hip hop, and anatomy and things like that too.
Did you find anything challenging as you started dancing more?
At first the most challenging thing for me was going from my school where I was comfortable and familiar, and I knew everyone’s skills and felt like I wasn’t too far behind everyone else, to a ballet school where the standard was so much higher. Feeling like the country bumpkins that were the worst in the class was pretty confronting, but it was also really motivating, it made me work really hard. I think doubting yourself doesn’t do anything for you, it’s only a hindrance, so really trying to eliminate that and push forwards can be challenging but important.
What do you love about dancing?
The part that appeals to me is just how you have to be 100% dedicated. I love that dance is like the ultimate challenge and the ultimate sacrifice, but if you do commit to it it’s so rewarding. It’s so tough, which is ironic because everyone’s impression of ballet is that it’s airy fairy and really girly and everyone is just flitting around, when in actual fact it’s one of the most difficult things you can do.
Do you still dance?
I don’t do any dancing at the moment, but I’d love to get back into it. I feel like it will always be hard for me to go near ballet again, because you put so much effort and work into reaching a certain level of technique, and I lost a lot of that when I got injured. In my second year of training full time I got a tear in the tendons in my hip, and I had to sit out of class for a term. I couldn’t do anything weight bearing so mostly I was just sitting and watching class and trying to do strength and conditioning. It was so hard to keep up the condition I’d worked my way up to, so it set me back a fair bit, and by the time I got to graduation I didn’t feel like I was where I should be. I didn’t have the confidence to go and do auditions, so I went straight into supporting myself, and just stopped taking class. It was quite painful then to think about going back, knowing I wouldn’t be able to do it as a career, but now it’s beautiful to still be involved in the dance world. I think dancing will always be a big part of my life, and I’d love to do casual classes again for fun.
How did you start working for Energetiks?
I was lucky enough that Elly was already working for Energetiks when I finished full time, and through the holidays I had done a little bit of work at head office folding and packing orders. I was looking to work out who I was going to be if I wasn’t a dancer, and I ended up applying for a retail position. I remember being very nervous, and I think the management team were worried I would be too shy, but they gave me a chance and I loved it.
What is your current role within the company?
I started as a sales assistant at the Essendon store, and I’ve gradually moved through the company into a management position. My role now is manager of the Moorabbin Platinum Store, and it is basically lots of juggling! I get to do so many different things, there’s always training with staff members and making sure we’re always reaching for that level of service that we pride ourselves on, lots of interactions with customers, fitting shoes and pointe shoes, and there’s also the admin side, so ordering stock and handling email queries that come through. And then it’s really just anything I can do to improve the store and our customer service.
What is your favourite part of your role?
I think the most rewarding part of it is being able to support and help other dancers, and for me that is both customers, and staff. There’s nothing more rewarding than when you’ve helped a full-time student who couldn’t find a pair of pointe shoes that worked for them find the perfect shoe. But also helping my staff members grow and make the most out of their training and their job, and enjoy coming to work. I do find it challenging juggling all the things I want to do in one day, it can be hard to plan out your day in retail because so much of what we do just comes up on the spot. And we’re always keeping in mind the preferences of the dance schools and the dance teachers that we’re working with but also the preferences of the student and their parents, so we really try and find the perfect balance that pleases everyone. I think it’s something we’ve learned to do really well.
What are your favourite Energetiks products?
Without a doubt, our pointe shoes, I’m in love with the quality of them, the craftsmanship they are made with, and the fact that within our range of pointe shoes there is a shoe for everyone. It’s so satisfying as a pointe shoe fitter to know that whatever past issues you’ve had, whatever foot type you’ve got or whatever your dance requirements are, I’ll be able to find the perfect shoe for you. Personally for my own use, I love the Jordan Jacket. I also love the tote bag, it’s the perfect everyday bag. And most of our leggings, especially the Zara Extended Mesh Legging - they are really flattering, super comfy and really durable, I wear them to work and I know I can throw them in the wash twenty million times and they come out perfect every time! And the Aubrey Knot Long Sleeve Tee is another one of my favourites.
Finally, what do you love about working for Energetiks?
I think one of the things I worried about when I stopped dancing was that the dance community feels like one big family, it’s such a small world in which everyone knows everyone, and I would be missing that. But I’ve realised that’s what Energetiks is as well, Energetiks is its own family, and we get to be dedicated to helping the dance community that we are a part of anyway, so it’s a really positive environment to work in. I guess that maybe not everyone knows that we are a company of dancers, made for dancers, all focused on supporting and inspiring fellow dancers. Whatever you’re going through we understand, and we will always do our best to provide the best performing products for you. We get our customers on a more personal level than you might imagine, I think, which is important to me.
Stay tuned to meet more awesome team members in future posts from the Inside Energetiks series.
Interview by Emily Newton-Smith
Photographs by Elly Ford