By KIM HILL
With the graceful confidence of a star ballerina, Revolution Dancewear LLC has leapt forward with a strong lift from several Illinois Wesleyan alumni and student interns.
The Niles, Ill.-based manufacturer partners exclusively with dance studios and dance schools to sell shoes, dancewear and costumes. Considered an industry leader in the U.S. and Canada, the company recently acquired DanceDirect, Europe’s largest dancewear provider .
“As our company expands and grows every day, I think it’s really exciting to see how many members of the Wesleyan family we’ve chosen to help this successful company grow even more,” says Jenilee Houghton ’05, a theatre major at IWU who is now Revolution Dancewear’s senior director of creative development.
For two consecutive years, Revolution Dancewear LLC has hired IWU students as interns, and in the past four years it has hired three Wesleyan alumni in full-time positions.
One of those alumni, Celeste Kelley ’13, worked for the company as a summer intern and was hired full time in August.
Kelley, a theatre major, attributed her success at Revolution Dancewear to her rigorous academic schedule at IWU. “Wesleyan prepared me for the working world in many different ways. The first of which is that I learned how to juggle many different tasks at once,” she says.
“Revolution Dancewear is a business that moves incredibly fast, and so each day is a new adventure,” says Houghton. “Our interns work on a variety of projects, from creating a digital fabric library to organizing a new workspace. It’s always been important to me that our creative internship opportunities are rewarding and fulfilling.”
As an intern, Kelley was given the chance to run wardrobe for a weeklong photo shoot, assisting the company with more than 1,000 photos of their dancewear products. “She did such an amazing job that we offered her a full-time position in the production department, and we were thrilled that she accepted,” says Houghton.
Another IWU intern for Revolution Dancewear was Caitlyn Trevor ’14, who is a majoring in music with a minor in theatre arts at IWU. Trevor was interested in the costume design side of business. “She spent time working through our design process, and we even gave her the opportunity to try designing a costume for our customers,” says Houghton. “She did such a great job that the costume was approved and can now be found in this season’s costume collection.”
Houghton says this kind of initiative “speaks to the intelligence, creativity and overall character that Wesleyan helps to develop in their students.”
Kinzie Schweigert ’15 contributed to this story.