There’s a new fierce fashion house in town and we’re excited to share their 2023 Dance LookBook with YOU! Rebel Athletic has won the world over since 2013 with their couture athletic apparel that has been shining on the competition floor, Pro NBA courts, Pro NFL fields, World Entertainment Tours, and now… they are excited to bring their #RebelLevel synergy to your dance studios, recitals, dance team championships and beyond!
Inside Dance had the pleasure of sitting down with Founder & CEO, Karen Noseff Aldridge during one of the busiest times of her year. At the time of our conversation, the official launch of their stunning (we can vouch for that!) 2023 LookBook was just days away from going public and we’re honored for you all to get to know the exquisite leader behind Rebel.
Karen, a dancer herself, has broken down barriers in the pursuit of bringing the absolute best to the industry. She’s a multi-award winning serial entrepreneur, not to mention, being named by Ernst and Young as the 2020 EY Entrepreneur of the Year for the US Southwest Region… her vision, mission, and passion for impeccable design and fashion is a force to be reckoned with.
So! Without further ado, please join us in this one-on-one interview with Rebel’s fearless leader, and take a moment to view their top of the line styles at RebelAthleticDance.com!
Inside Dance readers and fans would like to welcome you, Karen! Tell us about your background and passion in the dance industry.
Dance is my first passion. I started dancing at age 5 and by age 15, I was in Buster Cooper’s dance company, dancing about 15 hours a week outside of school. My dream was to become a professional dancer, but my parents had additional plans and therefore, I ended up graduating from college and going to law school instead. As an adult, I taught dance classes around Dallas and taught up until the point that I started Rebel Athletic in 2013. I remember starting the company and telling my husband “please don’t ever let me stop dancing.” But the company took off and required so much of my attention that I haven’t danced another day since. I still miss it so much and being able to officially launch a dance division of Rebel Athletic really brings me back to my roots!
What was it about your love for dance that inspired you most to launch this new fashion line?
Moving into the dance market was a natural progression for Rebel. We are known for doing over-the-top, super intricate couture designs and sometimes our designers are limited by the template of what a cheer uniform should look like.
Rebel is the company that teams come to when other companies are not able to execute on the intricacy of a look or theme, our motto is ‘if you can dream it, we can make it.’ The beauty of dance is that there really are no limits in terms of themed costuming. My love of dance has fast-tracked us to opening this new division, but I think it would still have happened organically as we’ve had many unsolicited dance teams and studios come to us to create their dream costumes over the years.
Rebel Athletic is a highly successful business! Throughout your growth as a dynamic businesswoman and owner, what barriers and challenges most prepared you for continued expansion?
It’s surreal to me that we now have a combined 600+ employees across four continents. It certainly doesn’t feel real at times. Our culture at Rebel approaches any barrier as an opportunity. We never let a good crisis (and we’ve had many of them) go to waste. And we train our team to turn lemons into lemonade by looking for the silver lining in the most negative of circumstances. The ability to achieve success despite overwhelming obstacles is a mindset that all our employees have. You know the cliche phrase, “when one door closes, a window opens”… there’s never been a truer quote for Rebel.
The heart and mission behind Rebel Athletic have always impressed us. Tell our dance fans more about what Rebel stands strongly for throughout all its markets and industries.
Our Brand platform is Rebel Against Bullying. This was the natural choice for a cause because so many of our employees (including myself) have heartbreaking stories about being bullied at some point in their life. It really made sense for this to be our cause, as bullying (and especially cyber bullying) has become an epidemic in the US, particularly among young girls – who are our primary market.
Rebel also stands for leveling the playing field. We are in an industry that has been for many decades dominated by one player. Our goal was to create a better alternative in a marketplace that had not seen real choice in decades. Since day one we’ve focused on delivering world class service, choice, design, value, and quality. We believe that if you do that, everything else follows, and, so far, we haven’t been proven wrong.
Finally, our vision is a world with more sparkle. Yes, the type of sparkle you see on uniforms, outfits, and costumes, but also the sparkle that comes from happiness, joy, kindness, fulfilling your passion and giving back to others. The inner sparkle that many people have but that often needs teasing out or amplifying.
Rebel Athletic & Rebel Dance have developed impactful partnerships throughout the dance world! For example; NFL, NBA, Professional Dance Teams and most recently Miss America! Tell us more about these in their current state and what the future holds.
Our first NFL partner was the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. This partnership is so special to my heart because the DCC relationship helped open many doors in our early years. Of course, our other hometown team, the Dallas Mavericks Dancers, are also a special customer for Rebel. Surprisingly many of the other NFL and NBA teams that ordered from Rebel came to us organically because they saw something we posted to social media they loved, or they wanted something super custom that they felt like we could execute. We didn’t really look for that pro-team dance business, but over the years, it’s come to us.
The Miss America partnership is a more recent one, and it’s been amazing to support this scholarship program for young women. There’s a lot of crossover between contestants in the Miss America circuit and the dance and cheer worlds, so that partnership was also a natural progression for us, not to mention the alignment on cause and beliefs. Their mission to ‘prepare great women for the world, and the world for great women’ is something we wholeheartedly believe in.
2022 was a big year for a highly successful production and tour known as CHEER LIVE! Rebel was a key presenter and partner for these artists and athletes with the gorgeous styles and costumes they wore on stage. How fun was it for you and the team to work on something of this level?!
Being the Title Sponsor of CHEER LIVE was an incredible experience and (hint, hint) a big surprise announcement is coming soon! Costuming for the show was a huge honor and our designers were really able to let their creativity show with the show’s themed costumes. Designing for this tour was a dream for many on our team.
I think what was so groundbreaking about CHEER LIVE was that it showed that cheer as an exhibition sport could be both athletic and beautifully artistic, and most importantly entertaining, to a cross section of the general public.
The creative team behind CHEER LIVE included top directors and choreographers. Tell us how this experience impacted you personally while also knowing that your big dance launch was coming soon!
I didn’t know what to expect when I showed up to the Dallas show. I had seen some snippets from inside rehearsal, and of course I had seen the costumes already. But the show really blew me away and exceeded all my expectations. It was like going to a rock concert, except it was cheer. Watching from the audience made me want to dance and perform again and really made me miss that aspect of my prior life (pre-Rebel lol).
Let’s take a moment to brag on your team. They are bringing phenomenal REBEL LEVEL designs and customer service to the dance world. Share some insight to what dance customers can expect from your team of experts!
- No Design Limitations. You dream it, we design it… whatever it is!
- Concierge-level service and after-sale support. The same service that made us famous in the cheer world.
- Incredible value. People see our marketing and our luxury brand positioning and there is a misconception that they cannot afford Rebel. Yes you can! We have something for everyone.
- On Time Delivery. We operate our own vertically integrated factory. Which means smooth execution on production and delivery dates.
2023 will be huge for Rebel Dance… any teasers for 2024 or years to come?
We’re thinking about doing an overseas couture dance LookBook shoot (like the shoots we do overseas every year for cheer).mWould be wild (think runway level styles) designs for inspiration!
In what ways does Rebel Dance stand out from other dance apparel companies?
Here are the key ways in which we stand out:
1. Vertically integrated factory and production. We do not outsource and are therefore able to control quality, consistency of product, and timeliness of delivery.
2. We specialize in doing the hard stuff. When other companies say no to couture design concepts, we say yes. We are used to creating the looks that frankly,no one else wants to touch. Our ability to deliver on intricate and difficult designs is second to none.
3. Concierge-level service and after sale support. We aim at every point in the sales cycle to over communicate and exceed the customer’s expectations.
4. Constant Innovation. We know that in order to stay on top, we need to improve every season. That means we are always developing new fabrics, new trims, new patterns and investing in technology that will make the customer experience better.
5. Woman Founded, woman owned, women led, women run. This is something I’m very proud of. In a world where men dominate much of the industry design landscapes, Rebel Athletic is female- dominated… which makes sense for the predominantly female demographic we are serving:
- Woman Founded/Owned
- 55% of our Executive Leadership Team are female
- 75% of our employees are female
Inside Dance has an advertising and promotional partnership with Rebel Athletic.
See below for a sneak peek behind the scenes!
Inside Dance has an advertising and promotional partnership with Rebel Athletic.