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Ballroom Dancing Inspires Designer

Nutley shop specializes in dance clothes

Sherry Kuo loves ballroom dancing so much that she decided to take lessons and she became quite good at it. 

After participating in competitions and other ballroom events, she said she discovered how difficult and expensive it can be to obtain the proper costumes from local tailors.

From that experience she said there was a demand for affordable dance wear. Having an equal passion for clothing design, she and her three sisters, who reside in China, decided to fulfill that demand.

Inspired by the title of the 2004 film remake featuring Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez in the leading roles, Kuo opened shop and named it "Shall We Dance Designs."

Kuo designs all of the costumes herself, while her sisters mass produce them back home. The basic idea is to offer dancers of all levels the opportunity for a one-stop shopping experience with the highest quality materials at affordable off-the-rack prices.

“When I first opened back in 2009, the store was located in Princeton. After a couple of years I decided to move to Nutley for many reasons.  One main reason is that it offers many business- to- business connections, especially with the many dance studios in the area,” said Kuo. “It also is a very convenient location since we participate in a lot of ballroom events in the Northern New Jersey area and in New York and Connecticut.”

The shop opened its doors on Franklin Avenue in September, 2011.

 “Ballroom dancers often require more than one costume for an event,” she said.

The correct type of dress is essential for the style of dance. A slow number, such as a Waltz, requires a longer flowing length to enhance the appearance of elegant movement. A more up-tempo number, such as Salsa, requires a shorter length in order to bring focus to a dancer’s legs as they work their way through complex, rapid steps.

Kuo, who preferred photographs show her designs, not herself, also designs many of the unique styles of shoes available at the store.

In addition, there is a large inventory of styles for men and children.

“This is a family-operated business and I’m proud of our designs,” Kuo said.

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