What started as an attempt to save several valuable dollars became a livelihood choice for a mom, much removed as she was from the universe of glitter, sequins, twirls and pirouettes!
When the time came for her to put money into a few skating costumes for her five-year old daughter, Gail Johnson understood how time consuming and how pricey the whole exercise was – back and forth excursions for fittings and letting outs, fitting sequins and baubles with material etc. It started to connect her more closely with the sport and its own culture. She believed that the whole costume thing was a ripoff on most parents.
That was almost 30 years ago!
Now, Johnson is sitting in the middle of chiffons, lace, beads, binders and rhinestones and hugely enjoying the originality of her journey. Illuminescent Design, the company she founded, is making hundreds of hand sewn, custom designed masterpiece costumes annually for skaters from all over. And all this from within a cluttered corner of her home, not a swanky retail outlet on an upmarket road.
She reached her first professional breakthrough when the costumes she designed for Gracie Gold, a top figure skater in Team USA. Johnson’s dresses had been the first pick for Gold and her family when buying figure skating apparel but it absolutely was only when Gold won the silver at 2012 Junior World championships that her dresses started to get media and public interest. Other topnotch designers from the world of trend vied with each other to get Gold to fit in their dresses but the skater’s vision and fit weren’t given precedence. When Gold herself came to Johnson with a request to locate something which will fit together with help her keep her equilibrium unlike the heavily layered and flagstone crusted layouts of the “designers”, Johnson given a helping hand by giving her two custom-fit dresses for her skating occasions. Ever since then, there’s been almost no looking back.