Tucked away near rickety RTD rail lines in Denver’s Santa Fe Arts district lies a white warehouse. Only a sign reading “Luckyleo,” accompanied by a green four-leaf clover, differentiates the unassuming building.
Inside, though, something rare is happening. Sisters and self-taught seamstresses Heather Walker and Chelsea Early are making custom leotards, from sketch to fitting, in one workshop. Known as Luckyleo Dancewear and beloved by professional dancers and gymnasts, the full-service design, production, and manufacturing operation is one of the few dancewear companies to make the entire garment in-house.
For most of their life, Walker and Early were ballerinas in Arizona. Then, in their early twenties, each dancer sustained career-ending injuries that forced them to reconsider the future. “After dance, it can be a little scary because you spend all your years entirely training on that,” Early says. “You don’t have room for much else.” In search of their next career move, the sisters took up sewing and realized they had a knack for making the garments they’d once worn for practice and performance. So they launched an Etsy shop: “We decided to take a leap and work together and make this company our own,” Early says.
Success with the Etsy shop gave them the confidence to open a brick-and-mortar store in Phoenix, where they worked side-by-side in a small building outside of a pawn shop. But it was after shifting operations to Denver in 2016 that Luckyleo’s acclaim grew. “We moved to Colorado because we were so inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit here,” Early says. “In Phoenix, we didn’t really feel it, and once we moved to Colorado, we saw a big leap in our interest from the dance community. It has been so exciting to see us grow and grow with each year.”
Luckyleo Dancewear is well-known in dance communities across the world for their feminine designs—floral print being the owners’ favorite—and custom creations for customers and companies alike. “Customers can create from scratch whatever they want,” Early says. “So, our team here has to have an extreme attention to detail. Our sewing team are artists themselves.” And that artistry has attracted the pros: Dancers and gymnasts from Dance Academy Denver to New York City Ballet sport Luckyleo leotards and athletic leisure wear.
The brand’s popularity can be seen by the enthusiasm of its customers on social media. “Luckyleo Day,” which falls each year on St. Patrick’s Day, is an honorary holiday for the company. “The social community online started tagging #luckyleoday on St. Patrick’s Day, and so we decided to roll with it,” Early said. “It’s the biggest day of the year for us,” Walker says. “Everyone in the workshop is dressed head-to-toe in green.” The company also releases an exclusive leotard design, available only on Luckyleo Day, and sales throughout the store are announced on social media on March 17.
Those deals aren’t the only reason customers have to celebrate the brand: By the summer, the sisters at Luckyleo Dancewear plan to extend their sizing capacities on leotards to include plus-sized dancers. Currently, the company offers five sizes, and they plan to add five more (XL Plus, 2X, 3X, and 4X). “The fact that we print in-house gives us more range,” Early says. “We want to support dancers of any size. We want to bring creativity to our designs, and support dancers that aren’t professional but want to wear our products.”