Read the Full Article in the Dallas Voyager

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sophie Williams.

Hi Sophie, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.  I founded Aurora Skirts in 2017 on the belief that each dancer is unique, beautiful, and deserving of dancewear as creative and special as them! With dedication and enthusiasm, I have channeled my passion for dance into a successful career as a ballerina. Propelled by my love and immersion in this art form, I ventured into designing my very own dancewear line, Aurora Skirts! My interest in sewing blossomed into a passion as I discovered the sense of creativity and freedom that came with designing and creating my own dancewear. The seeds were planted back in 2014 when I was attending school at Miami City Ballet. We had these dreadfully bland white uniformed leotards, and I took it upon myself to make a few “edits,” changing the leg-lines, adding a pinch, altering the straps, and making all of us teenage ballerinas feel much more stylish! One edit led to the next, and soon, I was making skirts for this rehearsal and that, adding color and brightening up our studios! I found a sense of fulfillment in being able to express myself through my creations and add my personal touches to our daily dancewear. As I delved deeper into the world of sewing, I began experimenting with different fabrics, patterns, and styles, constantly challenging myself to learn new techniques and improve my skills. What started as a simple desire to spruce up my ballet uniform gradually evolved into a full-fledged hobby that brought me immense joy and satisfaction. My exhilarating journey as a dancer has painted vibrant splashes of the world right beneath my dancing pointe shoes! From the excitement of the USA to the charm of the UK, and all the way down to where Kiwis roam free in New Zealand – I’ve danced with 13 ballet companies across the world! And guess who has always been my pas de deux partner all the way? Aurora Skirts! I’ve embarked on each adventure with nothing but a suitcase and a trusted sewing machine! All these worldly exchanges and insights from various artistic communities are invaluable gifts that fuel my creativity…and every fabric stitched splashes a dash of its essence into Aurora Skirts – creating each skirt you see today! In 2022, I moved to Fort Worth, TX, from Wellington, New Zealand, and joined Texas Ballet Theater as a dancer. When I’m not in the studios twirling and rehearsing, you will find me sewing, designing, and running all the ins and outs of Aurora Skirts! The vision of Aurora Skirts is to mix design and art to create lifelong pieces of dancewear that transcend fast fashion. Each and every detail of my skirts is ethically considered, starting with recycled materials through to carbon-neutral shipping and local collaborations. I make everything myself by hand and find pure joy and love in working with local artists on collaborative designs and patterns! 

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome? Embarking on a journey from ground zero has certainly been a tremendous challenge but an exhilarating adventure! Being a dancer offers its fair share of thrills, yet also presents some difficult hurdles. Dancers in the United States commonly find themselves plunging into a whirlwind ride across contracted work that spans 20-35 weeks at a stretch, followed by weeks of layoff when dance doesn’t pay the bills. During these moments of pause, we kindle our creativity elsewhere – featuring in guest performances, sharing our passion for ballet through teaching, or even exploring diverse job prospects. Come summer 2017, and my contract with Oklahoma City Ballet had just concluded, I found myself perched on the edge of discovering what comes next – that’s when I thought, why not take a chance on Etsy? One click down this rabbit hole led to another, and before I knew it, voila! My passion-project dancewear line Aurora Skirt had gracefully pirouetted onto center stage and launched! This unexpected beginning rapidly unfurled itself into something truly magical! Walk into any ballet company today, and your studio will be brightened by at least one Aurora Skirt!

 Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do? Aurora Skirts is where fashion meets art to create timeless dancewear with an eco-friendly twist. My handcrafted skirts and leotards use recycled fabrics to minimize waste. I’ve had the joy of partnering with extraordinary artists like Ukrainian refugee Janet Pulcho, whose sunflower watercolors became prints for skirts whose profits supported Ukraine relief efforts. My commitment to the environment led to a collaboration with the Artists Climate Collective, resulting in a dancewear line made from recyclable materials, with proceeds aiding the Rainforest Coalition. Teaming up with renowned dancer and oceanscape artist Claire Glavin, we crafted dancewear featuring her artwork, donating earnings to the Coral Reef Alliance. At Aurora Skirts, I believe in uplifting artists whose work is purposeful and impactful, aligning with my mission to make the world brighter through art and sustainability. 

What do you like and dislike about the city? Embracing my delightful new home in Fort Worth has been an absolute joyride! Jumping headfirst into its unique Texan art and culture feels like a thrilling adventure that keeps me on the edge of excitement. The pure happiness I draw from building splendid artistic partnerships adds magical layers to my life’s canvas. Most notably, teaming up with pencil artist Anastasia Tillman for my latest Aurora Skirt collection is nothing less than a dream come true! 

Photographer credit: Nathan Carlson