There is a vast range of careers and possibilities within the dance industry and GBD graduates are charting their own unique path through them. This month, we caught up with George Brown Dance graduate and past CBJ Mentorship student Tiffany Manankil who has combined her love for dance and fashion to create a Canadian dancewear business. Tiffany launched Tea and Thread Designs, a dancewear company based out of Toronto, Ontario in 2019. We chatted with her about her inspirations, getting her business off the ground, and what she has learned along the way.
“I actually had the idea back when I was dancing at George Brown. I found that there
wasn’t a lot of variety of dancewear brands in Canada, so I combined my passion for dance
and fashion and started my own brand and business.”
Q: Which program did you do at George Brown and in which year did you graduate?
A: I completed the 2-year P102 (now P105) Dance Performance Program. I graduated in 2016 and went on to do the CBJ mentorship program for the 2016-2017 season.
Q: Can you share a little about what Tea and Thread Designs is?
A: Tea and Thread Designs (TTD) makes unique handmade dancewear in Toronto, Canada. TTD is all about functional and elegant dancewear to make you feel beautiful while dancing. I specialize in fun, colourful ballet skirts that come in different styles, lengths, and sizes. In the future, I hope to expand my product line to include leotards and other dancewear essentials.
Q: What inspired you to start this business?
A: I actually had the idea back when I was dancing at George Brown. I found that there wasn’t a lot of variety of dancewear brands in Canada, so I combined my passion for dance and fashion and started my own brand and business. I’ve always been a crafty person and starting this brand was a great way to express my creativity. Between COVID and all the studios closing, this brand has become my focus over the past couple of months.
Q: Can you share a little about the process of getting the business off the ground and how it’s been going?
A: Like all new businesses, the start was definitely the hardest part. I pretty much taught myself everything from the sewing to photography, setting up the shop and graphics. Many mistakes were made along the way but now everything has come together. It has been a learning experience and I will continue to expand my knowledge and skills. It’s always slow at the first but I’m hoping in the future to expand and grow.
Q: What is the most significant thing you have learned along the way?
A: Prior to starting, I had to learn a lot of new aspects that go into starting a business. Throughout this process I’ve taken an interest in dance photography to help promote my brand. As an experienced dancer, it definitely helps knowing what to look for. I am really enjoying photographing other dancers because it gives me another creative outlet and allows me to promote my brand. I’ve enjoyed planning and styling shoots and working with talented individuals.
Q: Where can people check out Tea and Thread Designs?