It's time to step onto the ice in a garment that makes you feel like a million bucks—like you just walked off the red carpet at the Oscars and the world wants to know, "who's that girl in the red dress?!" THIS is a public service announcement. THIS is the sound of your performance scores going wayyy up.
THIS is cb.
Let me just say this...
My name is Charlene Bailey and I'm here to change the world. Maybe not the entire world just yet, but at least a little piece of it. Let's face it, folks: figure skating fashion needs a facelift. Too long have athletes trained day in and day out just to be compared to grotesque spandex in cheesy skating movies! Too long has the "lampshade" skirt trolled the countryside, leaving unsightly proportions pillaged and left for dead.
So what’s my story?
I am the Director Creative of cb., the brand born by a crazy person with a slightly unhealthy obsession with figure skating and fashion. Established in May of 2015, a lot has happened since then, so let's rewind a bit...
Having started skating at the age of seven, I was the competitive figure skater by all that knew me and competed Junior Ladies and Novice Pairs out of Eastern Ontario. I was well-acquainted within the skating world, yet my favourite part (outside of skating of course) was choosing potential program music to which I would design a fully choreographed program and matching dress. And let me tell you, my grandmother still holds the collection. Every. Single. One.
After leaving the sport at 19, I pursued a university degree, but things were just never the same. I realized years later that there was a void in my life cured only by the one thing that had ever moved my soul in a way nothing else had. I returned to my first love—figure skating.
I quickly picked up where I left off and dove into coaching as well as my own training to reacquaint myself with the world I'd left behind.
Though the end goal was to teach skating until I had enough practice in making garments, my homemade creations quickly caught the eye of a skating mom (bless your soul, Lisa!) and she asked me to make her daughter a dress. Soon after, word spread like wildfire and I found myself thrown into much higher demand than I had anticipated for a self-taught wannabe designer.
Fast forward one year later, I now have a quickly developing brand as what I am doing is new to the figure skating world; it's fresh yet familiar and it's catching the eyes of skaters, coaches and choreographers worldwide. What I'm still trying to figure out is how I got so lucky to be doing what I love with the people that I adore, each and every day. Bless.
the cb. difference
Most importantly, my years of active experience within the sport—as a skater, a coach and a spectator—mean that I know and understand exactly what my clients need and want. Who better to know what a figure skater needs than a figure skater?! I also run my business very differently that most others in the industry; my brand is client-centred, meaning the relationship I hold with each and every one of my clients is above all else; I know what it's like to train hard and have a busy schedule so I do my best to accommodate the superheroes we call mom/dad or grandma/grandpa with respect to time and training. In addition, technology is wonderful thing and I exercise it to the fullest; Facetime for long-distance clients, up to the minute updates on projects via email—I am usually just a click away. I love to engage with my audience, facilitating an environment that shares ideas, inspires and empowers others. It's just the best thing ever.
“My years of active experience within the sport—as a skater, a coach and a spectator—mean that I know and understand exactly what my clients need and want. Who better to know what a figure skater needs than a figure skater?!” –cb.
How exactly do I design?
Since I was a skater and know the sport inside and out, I am aware of how important it is to have a garment that ties all the elements together, but also makes the skater look and feel their best—improving their performance. For non-skaters, this may seem silly, but it's actually quite significant! Trained under the Royal Conservatory of Music, program selections are not just melodies—they offer physical and visual cues! I like to think that the packaging a skater wears during their program is the visual thread that ties the physical elements and components of the program with its music.
So I listen to my client's music well before a consultation and I come up with ideas that have been inspired by something I've seen, heard or felt. Next, I meet with my clients and we discuss their ideas too, including possible style and colour choices. By the end of our meeting, we come up with a custom piece specifically designed for this skater's particular music, body type, skin tone, skating style and preferences. This is probably the most important part of the process—it is my job to ensure that this skater is going to look and feel their absolute best the second they step out on the ice! Next, I hand select each material that will be used to create the garment and conduct all the fittings and client communication.
But can I even sew?
Though I hold a double major in Kinesiology & Exercise Science and Health & Society, I totally taught myself everything I know about garment creation. I attended workshops, read books, watched videos, made mistakes and soaked up as much knowledge as possible since officially beginning my business in May of 2015. I'm not afraid for people to know this, nor am I afraid for people to know that within 8 months of making my very first skating dress for someone other than myself, I had 5 custom pieces skate Senior at the 2015 Canadian Tire Skate Canada Nationals, some of which belonged to National Team member, Michelle Long. I'm quite the opposite of afraid. In fact, I'm proud.
So yes, I can sew. And I hope that inspires whoever knows this to follow their passions and dreams and build a life for themselves doing whatever it is that makes them happy regardless of how old they are or what other people think.
I can’t start my mornings without… coffee and eyebrows. Facts.
I have a weakness for…potato chips and crime scene investigation shows
Most people don’t know that…I am absolutely petrified of drowning/ being smothered (claustrophobia) and that I used to play competitive fastball
An important lesson I learned from a challenge I faced was… that it is okay to be wrong and to take responsibility for it; it is actually a fantastic learning opportunity and that it is what you do next that really counts. It doesn’t make you any less of a person, nor does it make you unintelligent. Rather it gives you perspective (which equals wisdom!)