ATLANTA — An Atlanta woman is pioneering how dancers of color will be seen on stage for many years to come as the result of a growing company that she started by recognizing a need in the dance and theater costume industry.
Jamia Ramsey is the owner of Blendz Apparel, an apparel brand featuring high-quality professional dancewear and shoes for all skin tones.
Prior to starting Blendz, Ramsey spent years on the stage as a professionally trained dancer and revealed the struggles that dancers encounter to match shoes and tights with complexion.
After recognizing her own experience, she felt it was imperative for dancers who do not match the traditional pink or suntan shades to have the option of buying a product that reflects their image.
So, in 2018, Ramsey launched her first apparel collection featuring sets of tights, ballet shoes and jazz shoes in four distinct “Blendz”.
Ramsey’s dancewear is supplying a demand for an inclusivity issue impacting thousands of dancers of all age groups. Many ballet dancers spend more money for costumes to match their skin-tone with their shoes.
“This isn’t about shoes, this is about who belongs in ballet and who doesn’t," Virginia Johnson, the artistic director of the Dance Theater of Harlem, told The New York Times in 2018.
Back in June, an online petition against Capezio, a major dancewear brand, challenged the company to offer more matching skin tone options for its shoe and tight products.
The petition reached was signed by more than 300,000 users and keeping the conversation alive with president Michael A. Terlizzi.
While Capezio hasn’t released their previously announced line of dancewear, Ramsey is excited to already have a product that embraces all dancers.
“We’re excited to be the newest kids on the block!” Ramsey said in a statement. “We’re just scratching the surface with our initial collection. We are already in the works of expanding into all types of dance apparel and shoes; including leotards, camisoles, tap, pointe, and character shoes to name a few.”
Ramsey's company is also getting the receiving praise from from industry professionals, like celeb choreographer Anthony Burrell.
“As brown skin people, our skin tones range from fair to rich, which makes it pretty difficult to find the right apparel to match our glow. Having worked with various dance productions, I know firsthand when dealing with fittings, their are very few options for us to choose from,” Burrell said in a statement. “ I am excited to know there is a brand geared to producing apparel for our tones.”