We finally caught a very busy and successful Grant Spencer to ask him a few questions about his career. He teaches ballet, runs his own successful costume rental company GTLS Designs and is transitioning into the role of Wardrobe Supervisor for Bay Pointe Ballet. We interviewed his intern previously.
Cañada Fashion Department (CFD): How has your business evolved?
Grant Spencer (GS): My business started as custom tutus and tunics for ballet. After working with a couple tough clients, dealing with tight deadlines, and always working with budget constraints, I decided to move my business into building rental tutus and tunics. This has given me a lot more control over entire design process, fabric selections, bigger budgets, and final say in the finished product.
The next biggest evolution has been becoming the Wardrobe Supervisor of Bay Pointe Ballet. This position officially starts in August of 2016, but I’ve already started reorganizing the shop, buying various materials, and working on budgets. I’ve never done work on such a large scale, so I am excited to see how all of this works out.
CFD: How did you decide on your business?
GS: My current business model happened on accident. I had some free time, and no custom builds, so I decided to make some tutus for practice. Then I realized that some of my friends could not afford their own tutus, but still needed tutus for guest artist gigs, so why not rent what I had on hand?! From there I started to add different colors & styles to accommodate the different roles within the various classical ballets.
CFD: What are your ultimate fashion goals?
GS: Ultimately, I’d like to be known for making beautiful high quality tutus that stand the test of time.
CFD: How did Cañada prepare you for what you do now?
GS: I was really just looking to improve my sewing technique so that my garments would look more and more refined. I am now really confident in pattern alteration, construction, tailoring, and misc fine details. The classes pushed me to use techniques that seemed scary, but after doing them a few times, are actually useful and really elevate my final products. I was attempting to complete the Theatrical Costuming Certificate but currently have most of my credits in Technical.
CFD: What does a typical day look like?
GS: Most of my days are spent teaching ballet. I reserve Wednesdays for sewing from early morning to very late at night and then I tend to fit in a few hours Thursday evenings and Friday mornings. Come August, I will be working at Bay Pointe Ballet approximately 25 hours a week, with hours per day yet to be determined.
CFD: Do you have any advice for current students?
GS: Improvement comes from being critical. Always look at your work with a critical eye: What did you do well? What didn’t work? What took longer than it should have? What could you do to combine steps/stages? How did the final product relate to the initial idea? Were compromises made? Was the compromise effective? Then ask your peers/mentors to critique your work. Be appreciative of the positive reinforcement but be eager for the “negative” comments as those will push you to the next level.
Hard work trumps talent every time. Don’t be afraid to work long hours, for not a lot of money, with not the best work space. Become better than when you started. Then move on and up.
Take risks and fail. The best things come to the person who takes a chance.
Don’t be so set on one path that you don’t see other bigger/better opportunities along the way.
CFD: Anything else you’d like to add?
GS: It has been a number of years since I took classes at Cañada. I still want to get at least 1 fashion certificate. Taking on my latest job with Bay Pointe Ballet will be yet another obstacle in this goal; someday I’ll be able to sort my schedule out so I can get back to class.
Thank you, Grant. Many congratulations on your successes! Enjoy some images of his work, below. Many images are available on his Facebook Page as well.