I still remember the first time I saw a dance competition. Those dresses! So lavish and beautiful. I didn’t know anything about DanceSport back then, but I started to dream that one day...maybe...I would be wearing a dress like that!
Fast forward few years and a brand new, ballroom-dance school had opened in our small town. I signed up! And it was love at the first sight!
My first dance dress was made by a professional dancer who also made dancewear. It was very pretty, but there were no crystals! I quickly understood our family budget simply did not allow for new custom-made sparkly dresses, and I was content with a few second hand ones.
After that, I knew that sewing my own costumes was the next thing I learn. I enrolled in a technical educational program with an emphasis on clothing design. There I was not only learning the right methods for sewing dresses, but also pants, coats ,jackets and more. I learned it all!
After few months of sewing my own dresses, I started getting requests from other dancers to make something for them. It wasn’t always easy to custom tailor a dress for someone else; making one-of-a-kind clothes from scratch can be quite challenging due to each pattern being different and unique. I didn’t always succeed, but I wasn’t going to give up. It brought me so much joy to see my designs on the dance floor, and I loved helping my dance friends to create their dream designs.
A few years into my designing career, I took a leap of faith: In September 2004, me and my dance partner decided to travel to USA. I left the Czech Republic with $200 in my pocket and two suitcases. Our plan was to learn the language, dance in the new country for a few months, and then go back home. At that time, I never would have guessed I would eventually become American citizen!
My partner and I started dancing for franchise dance studio in Manchester, New Hampshire. That experience taught us what it really takes to do a business in America. We have never learned about the business side of dancing, and for the first time I had the opportunity to see our clients in the best dance costumes made by top designers. The quality of those costumes was superb, and I started trying to recreate the new techniques by going to different events to observe what different dress companies have to offer.
One of our first competitions in America
After few months at the studio, the owner kindly allowed me to create costumes for a couple of students. For the first time, I had the chance to learn what it takes to make costume for more mature women. Previously, I’d only made dresses for teen girls! But this opportunity helped me learn the design and structure differences needed to accommodate a different class of dancer.
After 18 months of working for this wonderful studio in New Hampshire, we decided to try our luck in California. We put all of our stuff into one small car - including my sewing machine - and drove across the country. We had lots of hopes and dreams to start working and dancing in the beautiful California state, but our beginnings were not easy at all.
We couldn’t find a studio that could sponsor our visa, or studio who would offer us work for more than few hours a week. It was a struggle. After finally working part-time for a small, independent studio, I met a wonderful couple who were opening their own dance studio, they offered a partnership there!
One of many performances at our studio
I was now part-owning a dance studio, teaching classes, making dresses, and also maintaining my own dancing, competing, and traveling to competitions! It wasn’t easy, and at times it was quite exhausting. But it was a great time to learn what it truly takes to do business in America as a foreigner.
It was such beautiful and humbling experience, and I have had privilege to meet many wonderful people…some are still my clients today. I was truly amazed by the kindness of many American people who helped me tremendously along the way. I have always felt welcomed here, and will be forever grateful for their guidance and encouragement.
Even though I wasn’t really focusing on marketing Petra Designs, it slowly grew thanks to my great clients who were recommending my services to their friends. Over time, Petra Designs became my main source of income.
Our dance studio did eventually come-to-a-close. And in 2015 I reached yet another defining moment in my life: I got married and become a mom. Such a life changing experience!
Since then, I have been enjoying family life while working out of our home. Because I can create dresses for women without seeing them in person, it’s a wonderful experience working with women all over the country.
Working at my home office
Although I have never anticipated to be creating dresses full time, I fell in love with the process. Designing and creating one of a kind dance costume is very exciting to me. Each dress is as unique as the women wearing them!
I would now like to thank everyone who has been part of my journey this far! Thank you to all of my dance students who I had the pleasure to meet along the way! Thanks to all of my Petra Designs clients who trusted me with dressing them ! And also, I want to thank my wonderful family and friends for their help, support and patience.
Deeply & Sincerely,