Tan Li Min working with Queensland Ballet dancer Lou Spichtig. Photo by Jovian Lim, Courtesy Cloud & Victory

How Cloud & Victory Used Social Media to Become One of the Coolest Brands in Ballet

Cloud & Victory gets dancers. The dancewear brand's social media drools over Roberto Bolle's abs, sets classical variations to Beyoncé and moans over Mondays and long adagios. And it all comes from the mind of founder Tan Li Min, the boss lady who takes on everything from designs to inventory to shipping orders.

Known simply (and affectionately) to the brand's 41K Instagram followers as Min, she's used her wry, winking sense of humor to give the Singapore-based C&V international cachet.

She recently spoke with Dance Magazine about building the brand, overcoming insecurity and using pizza as inspiration.


On why she started designing dancewear

"When I was in law school, recovering from depression, I decided to try ballet. But looking at ballet clothing, nothing out there was really for adults.

"I decided to design my own ballet tops. And then I thought, Maybe other people will like them too! I thought, Maybe I'll do this for six months while I find a full-time job…and it just kept going and going."

On embracing social media

"The ballet scene in Singapore is very small, so if I wanted Cloud & Victory to have a chance of succeeding, my clothing had to reach an international market.

"I didn't grow up as a dancer. I didn't know anything about running a business, or manufacturing clothing. The only thing I knew was the internet.

"Xander Parish posted a picture of himself and said it looked like he was reaching for pizza. And I was like, I'll run with it—I'll put pizza in your hand! I started to realize ballet doesn't have to be really proper. You can make jokes and laugh about it.

"At first, I was hesitant to put my personality into the social media. But not talking about the aspects of ballet that I love didn't feel authentic. So I started to put more of the things I find interesting or funny into it, and people started connecting with the brand."

On running the business

"Right now, the company is just me, a part-time assistant and an intern. I tell them, 'There's nothing you do that I haven't done or don't do myself.'

"Running a business is really scary. It's easy to worry about failing all the time. But if you reframe the trying as a learning experience, it's a more helpful way to look at it."

On connecting with pro dancers

"When I started out, there was this insecurity—and sometimes there's still remnants of this—because I'm not a professional dancer, so will people be able to relate? Am I accurately reflecting the experiences of dancers?

"The struggle is pretty universal. Dancers are human. Whether you're like me, with my horrible turnout and lack of coordination, or a principal dancer with ABT or The Royal, we all struggle with the same things. We're all trying to get better, and everything hurts!"

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Courtesy Schelfhaudt

These Retired Ballroom Dancers Started a Dance-Themed Coffee Company

Like many dancers, when Lauren Schelfhaudt and Jean Paul retired from professional ballroom dancing in 2016, they felt lost. "There was this huge void," says Schelfhaudt.

But after over 20 years of dancing, plus United States and World Championship titles, reality shows, and high-profile choreography gigs (and Paul's special claim to fame, as "the guy who makes Bradley Cooper look bad" in Silver Linings Playbook), teaching just didn't fill the void. "I got to the point where it wasn't giving me that creative outlet," says Paul.

When the pair (who are life and business partners but were never dance partners—they competed against one another) took a post-retirement trip to Costa Rica, they were ready to restart their lives. They found inspiration in an expected place: A visit to a coffee farm.

Though they had no experience in coffee roasting or business, they began building their own coffee company. In 2018, the duo officially launched Dancing Ox Coffee Roasters, where they create dance-inspired blends out of their headquarters in Belmont, North Carolina.

We talked to Schelfhaudt and Paul about how their dance background makes them better coffee roasters, and why coffee is an art form all its own:

GO DEEPER