Custom Dancewear Design: Marcos Martinez

Samantha StoutApril 27, 2020Ballroom Chat: Episode #3
Ballroom Chat #3: Marcos Martinez
A conversation with Marcos Martinez, owner of the dancewear brand MMD. We talk about the custom dancewear industry, Marcos' process for creating unique garments for his clients, and training for competition under quarantine.
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Show Notes

Episode Transcript

Samantha: Welcome back everyone I'm your host Samantha from LoveLiveDance. Thank you so much for joining us this Monday morning. And today, our very special guest is an amazing Latin dancer, coach, instructor, dog lover, and Oh yeah, he designs dance wear and is kind of amazing at it. Please welcome to the show, Marcos Martinez.

Marcos: Good morning.

Samantha: Morning. so if you are joining us live on, please be part of the, our conversation this morning. we'd love to hear from you. We'd love to answer any questions you might have. if you are , listening to this on the podcast version of this stream, welcome.

We are doing this live every Monday at 10:00 AM. So if you ever want to be part of the conversation, come over and join us there. but we'll just dive into it this morning. Marcos, how are you doing? How, how, how are you handling all of this?

Marcos: I am doing well, very, very well. I, I thought, to be honest, that all of all of this was going to be a lot worse than it really is. So. I'm happy if the sun's out, the birds are chirping, the trees finally have leaves, so I feel good. I feel happy. Excited to be here. Change. It's a change of routine for the last six weeks. Definitely.

Samantha: Absolutely.

Marcos: Doing something like this. Yeah.

Samantha: I feel like last week it was so dreary in Utah that the depression started to kick in and then this week it was like, it's sunny and it's 70 and it's gorgeous, and I'm going to be okay.

Marcos: Yes. Yeah. Trevor and I went for a long drive yesterday, and the weather was just perfect. It was just so nice out. so yeah, it's been good.

Samantha: That's awesome. How are, how are the puppies adjusting to having you guys home?

Marcos: Good. They love it. Of course. They, they love all the attention. They're getting a lot of exercise is all I do is throw their balls for them all day and they can play fetch. They can play fetch all day. They don't get tired of it. It's really annoying. It's like cute for the first five minutes and then after that, it's just so annoying because they are so demanding.

Samantha: They just want all of the love and attention. Remind me, what breeds do you have?

Marcos: I have a Boston terrier that's a Boogie, and then I have a Morkie, which is a Maltese and Yorkie mix. That's Gustavo, the smaller one

Samantha: little cute fluff ball.

Marcos: Yeah, he is cute. Do you have pets? I don't remember. I feel like you have a cat.

Samantha: I do. Yes. I have a cat that I am sure will make his presence known any minute.

Marcos: Yeah, cats are great. And then Cindy has three cats. You knew that, right?

Samantha: Yes. Yeah.

Marcos: So we have a house full of animals, five animals.

Samantha: That makes life interesting. I'm sure.

Marcos: And then we get the occasional duck that gets in the backyard cause we live right next to a golf course.

Samantha: I was going to say, you are at, you are much closer to nature than I currently am.

Marcos: Yeah. Do you want to see, I'll show you the backyard. Nothing but field back there,

Samantha: but that's so gorgeous and green and welcoming,

Marcos: which is why I'm out here today because it's like the first good spring morning that I've added here to sit and have some coffee.

What is MMD?

Samantha: There you go. There you go. well obviously, we want to dive into some of the, some of the topics, some of the reasons why I asked if you would be willing to jump in here. so, so let's talk with the big one, obviously. What is MMD?

Marcos: MMD. I wish I had this like, cool. Statement for it, but literally it's just MARCOS M Designs. MARCOS Martinez Designs. MMD started around 2011. and then over the years it's become a little more official. What I do is I offer. I tell people I offer, I offer a specialty wear, because I do more than just dance attire. like my last project that I finished was actually a wedding dress. Yeah.

I do a lot of customers. A lot of people don't know that. so, so yeah, it's, it's, I just offer custom custom that's attire making services. Yeah. Primarily though primarily it is a lot of competitive Latin dresses, smooth dresses, and standard dresses and showcase dresses too. I'll do like that because you know, like a, this kind of a thing.

Sometimes you need a very specific outfit. You know, it's like if you're doing a show dance or if you're part of a. You're part of a theatrical performance. We need something very specific. Yeah. So occasionally I'll do something like that, which is very fun. That's kind of the change from just that beautiful dress.

Not that I mind making beautiful dresses, but it's fun to switch it up occasionally.

Samantha: It's nice to have different creative pursuits that are still, and within the same kind of umbrella. I like that. you have designed the last three of my competition dresses, which I love and I am not looking to part with anytime soon. but

Marcos: I have made you three dresses. That's right.

Samantha: Yeah.

Marcos: There was the black one with the triangles and then the navy. The navy blue smooth dress, and then the animal print latin dress.

Samantha: Yes. Yes. And I don't have those photos ready to pop them up in stream, but if you search, either my Instagram or Marcos' Instagram, you will come across those dresses.

The black one, I have to say, I adore, but I don't think I can fit into it anymore. I'm going to have to, I'm going to have to cut some of the covid weight in order to get back into that dress. Cause it is tight, but it's gorgeous. And, and that was one where, That was the first one that we did. And we had not worked together yet. And I, I remember you coming in to our consultation and you were like, I had a fever dream and I just know what I want. I want to put you in. And, and we spent the next like 30 minutes talking about. Your vision for the dress and kind of my style and what, what I'm comfortable with.

Then we just made this, this gorgeous dress. Well, you designed this gorgeous dress. I just had the honor of wearing it. that was then immediately nicknamed by a couple of people at the studio is the cool ranch Dorito dress because of all the triangle.

Marcos: I haven't heard that before. That's funny.

Samantha: Yeah,

Marcos: That's so funny. Yeah. I like, I like how you said we made this dress because for me like perfect. from start to finish situation is when my client feels like they're involved with the whole process. So I actually appreciate that you say we made this dress. I find also that I'm a lot more excited to make outfits when I really connect with my clients.

You know. And I feel like you and I have always gotten along very well. yeah. So I appreciate that. I think that my work is, is I try to make it very personal you know, I guess just like with all other lines of work, and you can relate to whoever it is that you're working with or for, it seems to have a much better result now.

Samantha: So. Absolutely, And, and I, I can see that. I can see, I can tell immediately, when I'm looking at a dance floor, whether it's at BYU or whether it's at Utah star ball, I can tell immediately when it's one of your dresses, because. I think the dancer looks so comfortable in their skin. It's like they're not even wearing a dress. It's just them exuding on the dance floor.

What is the MMD dress consulation process?

Samantha: I think you have a very particular design eye that I really appreciate. I think you know really well what shapes and silhouettes are going to work on different body types and tailor that based on your clients. So what does, if someone is considering getting a custom dress for the first time, or maybe they've had experiences with other designers with custom dresses, how, how does your process from consultation to final design kind of differ or change?

Marcos: I think that what makes working with me so unique is that there are no secrets. I will keep you involved throughout the entire process. And that's something that I, I appreciate that. I do that with my clients and I know that they also appreciate that because I've heard, I've heard a lot of horror stories where, you know, someone trusts a designer to make them, you know, a dress and they'll have the initial consultation or whatever, they'll, they'll sketch something out and then they won't hear from them until the dress is done. You know, and I can't help but think that if I'm spending all of this money and investing all of this money and a custom dress, you know, that I would like to know, like, just like, let's compare it to this.

Let's say you're building a house, right? You contract someone to build you a house and you want this house to be the house of your dreams. Like there'd be something very unsettling for me if I met the contractor, the person that I'm hiring to do the job. And, I don't hear from them again until the house is done.

Samantha: Yeah.

Marcos: You know what I mean? There's just this disconnect and I wouldn't appreciate that. So I don't try to put my clients through that either. I think that's for me I guess unique based off of what I've heard, you know.

Samantha: Yeah, absolutely. To be honest, most of us are all control freaks. We want to be able to get into the dress before the stones go on and then know exactly where the fringe is going to hit, and

Marcos: Yeah. So another thing is, I do as many fittings as we need. Usually one is what we can normally get away with, you know? So I'll have the initial meeting. The next time that I see the client is to fit the dress. They can see it on them. We can make any adjustments necessary. The third time they just see it. The dress is done. But even though it's only three meetings, it's enough for them to be kept involved, you know, and kind of see the whole process from start to finish.

Samantha: Absolutely. Coming from a client perspective, I really appreciate that. I never felt with any of the dresses that you were coming in and saying, I want to design this for you or I really believe that this is the way to go. It was always a conversation of, okay, where, what, what is your inspiration? What are you hoping to wear? And then how can I make that in a way that also says it was designed by MMD, right?

Marcos: That's true.

Samantha: Yeah. I appreciate that.

What is the timeline and budget for custom MMD garments?

Samantha: So, if someone was considering a dress, let's talk about three different levels, I guess. So let's say they want just basic formal attire or cocktail attire for either judging a competition or the Saturday night of a big competition. They just want to have something that's a little bit more custom, a little bit more personalized.

Then there's someone that's looking for a dress for competition floor, whether it's Latin or a smooth or standard.

Then there's someone that's looking for something that's completely out of the box, whether that's wedding dress or costume or showcase material. What is the typical timeline that you like to work with for each of those, and what is the budget that somebody should probably plan on preparing?

Marcos: okay. Good. Good question. Great question. all right. So. Usually what I tell people is I'm a month out regardless of what kind of project it is. And that, for the most part is accurate. You know what, if you get in touch with me a month, at least before your event, almost always I'll be able to get, get it out.

But there have been situations where someone comes to me and it's completely emergency and I have to make something in a couple of days, you know? I do that all the time. yeah, but if it has absolutely not be on top, stay on top of your schedule. Yeah. Don't, don't wait till the last minute please. Because that's just, it's not really professional. yeah, about a month. so four weeks to six weeks is usually the standard waiting time for most pieces, and that doesn't really, the complexity of the garment doesn't usually come in. I mean, it could be a pair of pants, you know, it could be you a basic basic practice dress.

You know, usually it's just a month out for the customer. But there are specific situations where it's much shorter with time. And then as for price goes, that can, I mean, you know, you know, you know, it can be anywhere from anywhere to anywhere. It can be. I mean, I've made, I've made very kind of basic intro to dance dresses for like $300 I've also made a first time dancer dress or $2,000 you know, it just depends, whatever I think, I think really whatever you can afford, whatever you're willing to spend and how much you appreciate whatever it is. that you're about to do. I think everyone values that differently. You know, I don't, I don't think that money should ever stop you from getting something, something that you're comfortable in. You know, I've always believed that if you're comfortable in whatever you're wearing, that's all it's going to affect your performance or your attitude, you know?

That's just how you feel at a fancy party or a dance lab or a basic competition or whatever the case may be. But yeah, anywhere from $300 to $3,000, I'd say. Anywhere within that price.

Samantha: Yeah.

Marcos: I know that it's a very vague answer, but it's hard to give a specific answer. That's where our conversation really comes into play, which is being able to understand your situation and be able to really assess the situation, I guess.

Samantha: Yeah, and I like the fact that you're willing to work within the budget of your clients. I think that is something that is few and far between in this industry. I feel like, even though they are incredible with what they do and they make incredible attire, I think some of the other, larger name dancewear brands are very much like, the price is the price. If you're not willing to pay it, then you shouldn't be one of our clients. I think it's nice that you're able to just have a realistic conversation with your clients saying, okay, we know this is a goal, but this is the budget, so we can cut the costs by doing less stoning or less detail work, or you have room in your budget, so why don't we talk about the difference between regular stones or abs or, you know, finding ways to make it personal and tailored so that it fits the client.

Maintaining a personal touch

Marcos: For sure. It's interesting that you bring that up because I think that's another thing that kind of sets MMD apart from a lot of the big brands is that it's still very personal.

You know. Like you can go to a very big competition, and what you see on the side of these competitions are a lot of vendors, right? Pre-made dresses. They'll also do custom work, but they have a lot of premade dresses. And I look at these dresses and the price tag is so outrageous.

Samantha: It's ridiculous.

Marcos: And people buy it. And I just like, why? Like why would, why would you go out and spend $5,000 on a dress that's been worn before or wasn't made through your body. I don't know, whatever the case may be. But yeah, when you work with someone on my team and stuff, we don't take it for granted. We appreciate anyone that is willing to .

Anyone that is willing to consider our brand. You know? And for me, when someone gets to the point where they're sitting down in front of me at a consultation, I think it's. such an honor because you've done some, some work to get to that point. You know, you know, you've talked to people or you reached out to me and you drove all the way down to Provo, like whatever the case may be.

But I don't take that lightly. I don't take it for granted, and I definitely try to fulfill whatever void it is that you have,

Samantha: I think that's amazing. And I love that you have that attitude about your craft and your business. And I wish that was more the industry standard. because I mean, I'll be honest, I'll, I'll, I'll share my kind of story and why I'm such a big vocal supporter of MMD and have people coming to find you. I owned two previous competition dresses, when I was still competing Pro-Am.

So before I became a pro, before I started teaching, I was a poor, post-college student trying to get my name out there on the competition floor, and I did that. I bought two dresses that were like third-hand used old sponsor dresses from a big name company who is amazing. Their dresses are phenomenal, but I paid twice what I paid for my custom dress from you to get a third-hand used dress with mystery stains, either coffee or tanner that did not fit my body and I felt amazing in those dresses. I still was able to exude confidence on the dance floor, but there is such a difference the first time if you've never stepped into a custom dress that was built for you, with you in mind with your measurements, there's such a difference when you step into the custom dress for the first time, and you just are like, ah, yes, this, this is, this is my second skin. This was made for me.

I think that at whatever price point it is, whether it's just a basic practice dress or something really extravagant. I think that that difference can not be understated. It just cannot be overstated. It's so important in making you feel confident as a dancer or performer.

Marcos: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It's, it's, I see it, you know, like I, I'm a huge people watcher. I just love watching people. I like to see how they behave, certain situations or whatever. And whenever I'm at a competition, I can tell who's comfortable and who isn't comfortable dancing, you know? And, one thing I love is I love making a dress, or I also do menswear, right? I love making a garment, let's just put it that way. I love making the garment and seeing the person that I made it for. It's just radiant, like confidence, you know? Like you can just see that they're happy wearing it, that they feel comfortable wearing it. And yeah, it's a nice feeling to know that I was able to participate in that. Yeah, it's definitely a nice, a nice feeling. And as far as price goes, you know, like when you're, when you're working with.

One of these really big brands, you know, these dresses are so expensive. You have to, you have to consider why they're so expensive. And that's that. Because in that one dress, there's probably a team of 10 people that have taken, in part in making it, you know, and one thing with, with working with me, every, every piece that has ever left my studio, I have personally made.

You know, I have worked on and that's a nice feeling. And, and I've, I've told people, you know, like in conversation and they're like, Oh, you know, what do you see for the future? You know, you should start doing this. You should start doing that because of course everyone knows exactly what you should do.

Samantha: Absolutely.

Marcos: I thought it was my, I thought it was my label, but no, everyone, everyone around you knows exactly what you're doing.

Samantha: They've all seen Project Runway. They know what you're supposed to be doing.

Marcos: It's the funniest thing. Anyway, we'll get into that later. But, one thing I promise that I've made myself as no matter how big I get, I never want to get so big that pieces will start leaving my studio that I, you know, if we ever get to that point, then I need to reevaluate what it is I'm doing.

Yeah. And so the whole reason we kind of went into this, this stem of the conversations, because price, right? So I'm able to keep my prices where they are. Because it's just, it's helped me, so we're not having to pay all those middlemen, you know, you come to me, I purchased the fabric myself. I designed it myself. I cut it myself. I sew it myself and yeah.

Which is funny because you think that with it being so personal, it'd be more expensive than these big brands.

Samantha: I was going to say, you would think that, because there are only so many hours of the day. There's only so much time that you can spend cutting and staring at a sewing machine, that you would make your prices almost prohibitively high because it's a custom piece that was made by one person on their own at their small studio with limited availability for time to take on projects. But, but you've taken the complete opposite approach. It's just me, so I can keep my costs low so I can keep my prices low so I can make it as affordable and as accessible as as it has been.

Marcos: Yeah. Yeah. I'm also not a money hungry person, so that helps too. You know, I just, I've been fortunate enough to be able to find the line of work where I'm able to express myself in a creative sense. I am very fortunate to have been able to have found that. So I don't try to take advantage of it. Obviously I need enough money to keep it running and to be able to live comfortably. Outside of that, I don't see any new reasons to change prices of people that know better than me and tell me, Oh, you should charge more. I was like, thank you.

Being a latin competitor

Samantha: I hear you there. So let's shift gears a little bit away from MMD. You are a Latin competitor currently competing.

Marcos: I thought I was done but...

Samantha: But they brought you back in. Remind me, are you competing open amateur or did you switch to rising star pro?

Marcos: No, we're still amateur. Okay. Yeah, we're doing amateur. We have like a five, seven year plan. and obviously that's, that doesn't all involve staying in the amateur league. we will eventually go pro if all things go well. Yeah. Yeah. But I thought I was, I thought I was done dancing. but, you know, life has that very interesting way of throwing the unexpected, and that's what it did last year. So the opportunity came up and I figured, why not? And I'm happy I did. Honestly, I love dance so much, and I, love my new partner she is incredibly talented and I think that we look good together.

I think we have a lot of potential. So I'm excited to see where we are at the end of this year cause we started dancing last August, so it's still relatively new with the partnership, but I'm excited for it.

Samantha: That's awesome. were you able to get. Were you able to go to any of the competitions this year before things kind of came to a grinding halt? I know you were planning on doing Cali open. Did you end up going,

Marcos: Yeah, we went to Cali open, so we met, I met Saidi in August. And our first competition was four days after meeting. So that was a local comp, very small. We just really wanted to get out there. You know, a new partnership is always a little nervous.

You don't know how the other personnel, especially considering I had, I hadn't met her, you know, like I barely, I barely just met her and I didn't know how she dealt with stress, how she dealt with the, nerves. So it really was, just to get out there and kind of. Break the ice. so that was the weekend that we met, and then the weekend after was a, was it Vegas open? It was a competition in Vegas. I don't remember exactly what competition it was.

Samantha: I think Vegas Open is the Spring so the fall would be.

Marcos: Yeah, so there we did the, I don't remember what it was, but later that year we did something holiday, which is another Vegas conference. It's so bad. I shouldn't, I should know what these comps are called that

Samantha: Holiday Dance Classic is the one at Luxor in December.

Marcos: Yeah. Yeah. So we did that one too. But yeah, no, I once, once we met, we've been competing. We competed at least once. Every month. It'd be a couple of times each month since we met. And yeah, we went out there and kind of did really well since, since we went out.

It's been, it's been fun.

Samantha: That's awesome. I feel like, especially for new couples or younger couples that are coming up, that's a really important piece of information to kind of have is even if you are brand new in the partnership and you haven't kind of figured out all of the kinks you haven't had, you have, you're still creating a working relationship. It's so important early on to get seen at as many competitions as you possibly can because you want to get in front of judges and you want to introduce. That, you know, this is, this is the new competitive partner. This is our new partnership. These are our names. We are looking to work our way through the ranks, so it's important just to get seen by people, even if it's not, where, you know, it's ultimately gonna end up being.

Marcos: Yeah, so pros and cons to everything, right. As far as that goes. I feel like I've been doing this awhile, you know, and I've kind of experienced at competing and doing with stress and knowing how to manage all of this as far as dance goes. And she, even though ballroom was pretty new for her, she, All of all of her life. She's been involved with the ballet world, right? So we're both experienced dancers. so we went into this kind of with the right mentality. So yes, though I, I 100% agree with what you're saying. You also have to be careful because once you're out there and you're getting all of this exposure and judges are seeing you, If you're not quite up to par. Right. It can be detrimental. It can be very detrimental because these judges that actually care with what they're doing, they'll remember you and they can either have a positive memory or a negative memory. Right? So long as what we did was outrageously ambitious, you know, to go out there after a week of meeting and competing against some of the folks at that competition. I believe the top three dancers were international finalists. To go out there and to get called into the semifinal, which was for us, some of my best, best results to that point. So I was, it was very flattering that some judges were rooting for us, you know, so it was great.

But, we definitely, in that week of meeting, we put in a lot, a lot of hours. I lost like 10 pounds because of all of the cardio that we were doing. You know, like we were eating, we had to get the eating and check. We had to get the cardio in check. We had to get the stamina and check, you know, and, and, we definitely put a lot of work in to that first week. because we knew that we were going to be up against some amazing talent, which we were. so, so yeah, you gotta be, you have to be very careful. For sure. I, that's like a, I wouldn't recommend that for a new couple, like a, like a very, very beginner. I'd say the experience and the preparation is more important, but it's like that same goes, you know, what is it like success comes when it meets opportunity. Butchered that, that, that phrase, but you know what I'm saying?

Samantha: Yeah, yeah.

Marcos: It's preparation, right? Like preparation for us, the opportunity came up and we just happened to have enough preparation between the two of us in our backgrounds to be able to take on that kind of challenge.

Samantha: Yeah. You, you don't want to be under prepared going into your first competition because you don't want to look like you have no idea what you're doing right. but at the same time, you don't wanna. You don't want to,

Marcos: don't be scared of it.

Samantha: Right, right. Yeah. You don't, you don't want to say, well, it's a new partnership and, and we're going to wait a full year to train and get our routines really in check and down before we even hit a competition floor, because you've lost so much valuable just just being seen in front of a judge. can sometimes be a really key step to progressing you forward, even if you aren't getting the results that you're expecting.

Preparing for competitions during covid-19

Samantha: We have a question from the chat. Thank you. Chat. are folks staying up on their cardio during quarantine or is the first competition to be going to be a bit rough? I mean, I'll, I'll let you answer that. Cause I, I think I saw on Instagram that you're still putting in some hours on the dance floor. I think, I think the people that are highly motivated to compete, that have competitions that are planned for the second half of the year. You're still training, you're still hitting the gym. You're still, you're still burning up the dance floor.

Marcos: Yeah. Yeah. So as far as as, I mean, as far as my perspective on this goes, and I've talked to a few of my competitive dancing friends. where we are at is, so this whole situation that's going on is temporary. Right? We understand that. Everyone understands. Yeah. The, the, the thing is competitions are all canceled or postponed, and we don't have any exact dates yet as to when the, you know, we're going to be released to start.

You know, participating with competitive events, no one knows. But what we do know is that eventually we will be able to, again, right? So you can either do one of two things. You can kind of just let everything come to a halt. Or you can continue training, you can continue practicing, you can continue doing whatever it is that you were doing before this all happened to ensure that when we are able to, you know, start competing again, that we're ready. You know? So, and that's just based off personality. You know, everyone, everyone has a different personality to personality type. Mine is, if I'm not doing something proactive, I get very, very down on myself. Right? So since this all happened, I've been biking a lot.

I've been working out a lot. the one thing that I wasn't doing was dancing with Siadi, right? And that was just out of, out of a courtesy to her, and to my own health. but after a lot of conversations, we decided that it would be okay, to start meeting to start practicing again. So as of last week, we started, we started up again.

Samantha: And I think that's so important that it was, it was a conversation between the two of you to say, okay, this is our situation. This is our exposure rate. This is your situation, this is your exposure rate. Does it make sense? Is this, is this something that we're willing to take on in a very safe and controlled situation so that we can continue as a partnership?

Marcos: And ultimately we determined that we could approach this and still be safe about it. Right? it was very funny though, because when we, when we decided to, you know, practice, we started of all things, we started by doing round. And what that means is basically you do all of your dances, you know, no breaks as if, as if it were kind of a competition.

Okay. Right. So we started with around and it felt great, you know, because she had been doing exactly what I was doing. She was working out, she was going on runs. She was dancing on her own, you know, and it was almost like we didn't skip a beat, which was great, which was, which was great. Of course there were a few hiccups, you know, because we hadn't danced over a month.

But for the most part, now we were still, we were still athletic. You know, those quarantine 15 hadn't effected, us too, too negatively. So. So, yeah, I just, I think that depends on your personality type. You know, these are scary times. and everyone is going to deal with it differently. And the way that I've dealt with it is I've, I've just stayed very, very active, just trying to do anything and everything that I can to try to hold on to that little bit of normalcy, normality, however you say it, you know?

And, yeah, little by little things will start to unfold and like, we'll be back. to normal, but until then. I'm trying to do all I can to make sure that I'm prepared for when life resumes.

Samantha: And it will resume. And I think, my two thoughts on that are, one, I'm not going to judge anybody for how they react in this situation. So if, if you, if you are someone

Marcos: Because everyone's different.

Samantha: Everyone's situation is different. So if you, Have, you know, an extended family that you're living with and you don't want to risk exposing them. if you are immunocompromised, if you have other health issues and you, you are taking this time to just stay home and stay safe, that is fantastic and valid. And that is 100% the best for you. And if you're in a situation where you are two single people. Living on your own. You don't have very much exposure to the outside community, and you can find a way that you can find a practice space either at someone's house or at a studio that nobody's at, and you can practice and that's not violating any of your local city or county ordinances, like, by all means, continue, continue doing what you're doing. I don't think anybody can judge or sofa quarterback.

The rise of virtual competitions?

Samantha: The other thing, and I don't know if you saw this or not, I only saw it because I'm following one of the judges on Facebook, but I think it was the world Russian championship, was supposed to be this past weekend. It did not get canceled, but it did change. All of the judges were virtual. The judges were watching a live stream of events, and they only allowed eight competitors in each division. There were only eight competitive competitors allowed on the dance floor at a time. So they essentially did a straight to final Pro-Am, with a live stream that the judges were watching to compete.

I'm interested. I think that's going to be a very European approach, or a very Russian approach. I don't know if the US is going to adopt that. I don't know if the NDCA would. But from your perspective as a competitor, how would you feel? I'm going to say BYU because BYU is the one that got canceled and is closest to us.

If they said, we've decided to reschedule for June 15th, but we're doing a closed ballroom so we'll only have eight competitors on the floor at a time, and the judges won't be in the room. They'll be watching you virtually. Would you as a competitor still put your name in that ring, or would you wait until we were back to traditional sense?

Marcos: What date did you say?

Samantha: June 15th, middle of June

Marcos: I would register for sure. So that I could be considered as a, as a competitor, but that's still over a month away. You know, a lot can change in that time. So I think is, is, as that date approached, I would be thinking about this a lot and I've talked to Trevor, my coach, and everyone that I valued, you know, whoever had an opinion that I valued. And then I make my determination, I think, is that the date got closer. I'd want to say yes, because I'm human and I love to compete and I love to dance and I want to interact. But there's also a part of me that would say no, you know?

Samantha: And is that from a safety perspective from not wanting to be in the same room as those other competitors, or would that be from a, you don't feel like it would be a quality experience from a competition, from a competitive front?

Marcos: It would be a unique experience for sure. And an experience that I feel as a dancer I'd be able to share with, you know, later on. Oh yeah. You remember that huge issue with coronavirus. We still competed and this is how we did it, you know, be a cool story to tell. I would, the reason that I'd have my doubts about it would be more so for safety, you know, because you're still like eight competitors at a time, at 16 people, you know, that's a lot of people. and that, that doesn't include the people that need to be within the ballroom and the organizers it to make sure everything's running.

So we're dealing with. You know, a good chunk of people within four walls.

Samantha: Yeah.

Marcos: You know, that's, that's, that's what I would have to really consider is, is, is that worth it for me, for the health of everyone around? Yeah. That's a tough one. Yeah. I want to look into that to see how that was actually decided upon

Samantha: and, and like, and to your point, They made a big deal about it only being limited to a certain number of competitors, but you're right, there were still, there were still an on deck coach to let the competitors know that they needed to be on the floor at this time there was still someone running music. Exactly. Exactly. There was still someone setting up the cameras. Exactly. So there, there were still a lot of bodies in the room. Was it a lot less than what would typically be for a competition that size? Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah.

But yeah, you're, you're still saying

Marcos: but when it comes, when it comes to situations like that, is it really, it takes one person who has been in direct contact, you know, like, like I wouldn't, yeah, the amount of people definitely will add to the risk, but it just takes that one person. And that where that one person can ultimately lead to another person's death. And that's for me what I don't take lightly about it. So the human emotion side of me wants to say, yes, I want to dance. Like, let me participate. Like this is what I've been working for, but you're responsible and the ethical side was like, no, it's probably not something I should be involved with because it goes against what I believe, which is ultimately the wellbeing of everyone around me.

Samantha: 100% yeah.

Marcos: That's a tough one. It's a good question.

Samantha: Yeah. It's an interesting thought experiment, that I think a lot of us are having. You know, I'm already starting to think, there's been talk in Utah, whether or not it'll happen is still up in the air, but. There's a talk about letting the stay at home order in salt Lake County expire as of May 1st. so, so as an instructor, I'm already starting to have the conversation with my students that says like, no, I'm not going to be back in the studio May 1st. It's going to be a very slow and cautious rollout. These are gonna be the markers that I'm looking for. these are going to be the restrictions that I put in place. This is if, if and when life resumed to whatever normal means, me as, as an individual and thinking about the health of my students and anybody that I come in contact with, I'm, I'm already starting to have those conversations of like, okay, if this happens, this is probably gonna be how I react, but we won't know until that date actually comes. And, and the information we have at the time could be vastly different than the information that we have right now on that topic, follow up question from the chat. what are your thoughts on sequined face masks as a dance accessory on the competition floor?

I've, I've already seen, Well, both dance America and Doré, offer them. the price points are vastly different because I think, I think the, the utility of what Dance America is currently selling and what Doré is trying to sell are very different. Dance America, I think is selling like the practice mask that happens to have sequins on it.

So when you're doing your lessons or you're in the studio, you have. That's that face covering.

Marcos: not so basic.

Samantha: Yeah. Doré and I am very impressed with them choosing this as a business model. they've come out with like full rhinestone, lace, flesh, colored AB crystal, like everything they are, they're 100% going first competition back everybody's wearing a face mask and it's going to be one of of ours.

Marcos: I mean, do what you gotta do. So what was the question again?

Samantha: what, what are your feelings on sequined face masks as a dance accessory? And I'll follow that up with, is that something that you would be interested in making potentially?

Marcos: Yeah. So for me, when it comes to the face mask, I think that it's more, I'm more about the safety and the practicality of it than the look. Yeah. I know this is probably supposed to be a fun question, but I'm going to answer it very seriously because that has to do with the health of the individual wearing it and everyone around them. I don't support what's going on with the face mask trends, I think. I think that it's, I find it to be a little offensive. I won't lie because what's the point of wearing the mask. I mean, how, how would you answer that? Like what's the point of the mask?

Samantha: I wear a mask so that if I'm an asymptomatic carrier, I'm not spreading it. So I am self containing in my own space.

Marcos: Yeah. Yeah. so ultimately it's for, it's for the safety of those around you, you know, and when you're seeing, as I've seen so many things online and I've seen some of my competitors and. If that mask is up to par, right? If it's doing what the mask is supposed to do, I don't care what it looks like. the only mask that Trevor and I are wearing, our medical mess. we, through his work, fortunately, were able to find some of those. And that's coming from someone who has a 100% professional sewing studio that he owns. You know, but I haven't made myself or anyone else a mask because I can't. I can't back up the integrity of that mask.

I'm not on a professional mask manufacturer. So, so long as that mask guarantees to do what it's supposed to do. Yeah. Go for it.

Samantha: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'll, I'll follow that up with, with just my, my take on it. anything is better than nothing.

Marcos: Yeah.

Samantha: But know, that two pieces of fusable interface are not going to have the same reduction in spread that an N 95 or an N 99 mask would have. So if you, if you can find a way to get the filters that are in like an N99 I have an N 99 mask that I purchased from, a thrift store. Well, before all of this happened, It's a smog mask that they were selling because salt Lake city's air quality was so bad this past fall that I finally picked one up if you have, if you have a way to sew the filter into the mask, then I think you can, you can wear it with confidence, but if you're wearing a homemade mask, again, something is better than nothing, but know that just because you have a mask on your face does not give you permission to get within six feet of me.

Marcos: Yeah, yeah, yeah. and I've, I've seen some masks up close. Like I've held them in my hand of some people that are distributing them. not for free. They're selling them. And it's just a single layer of fabric, you know? And I just can't help but think, why would you do this? You know, like, why are you making money off of this? But it's none of my business, you know? It's none of my business. It's not my, I'm not buying it, you know? I'm not making them. I just, I have very mixed feelings about the masks that I do see when I do have to go to the grocery store. You know, it is what it is.

Samantha: I will say I

Marcos: have fun with it.

Samantha: Exactly, exactly. Put, put your creative spin on it, slaps some AB crystals on it and call it a day. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I, I will say I, again, I'd rather see someone with a bandana or, or a homemade mask than nothing when I go to the grocery store. But yes, absolutely. If, if you're going to wear it for medical purposes, it needs to be a medical purpose mask.

Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. so we, we have time for like one or two more questions. I'm gonna see if there's anybody in the chat that has anything that they want to talk about. what, so, so what is the goal, short term, while you're still in. While we, while we deal well, while we still do have restrictions, if someone wanted to get ahold of you and create a custom, either piece of practice wear or a dress or a formal or costume or pants or trousers or whatever, whatever they are interested in, what is the current process looking like as far as consultation?

Marcos: So. We can go about it. One of two ways. We can do everything virtual, right? So we can have a FaceTime meeting. We can just be back and forth with sketch and ideas through emails or texts. Im whatever. that's one option. I, last week actually I did start, I did have a face to face consultation. I limited it to two people, right? So any more than that, we don't have to break up the meeting. And there are situations where I sometimes meet with up to four people at a time. Let's say, you know, I'm designing something for a young dancer. They bring their mom, right? And then that young dancer also has a partner and they need something too. So they bring their moms. So that's how you get the four people. And it was one of those situations where it was multiple people. And I was like, I can't, I can't. You know, justify a meeting with so many people in my studio. I'm trying to keep it still a safe place. so we just maintained our distance.

Obviously there were no handshaking, no hugs, you know, which I like to do personally and very interactive that way. There's a lot of hand sanitizer distance. and I felt fine with it. Yeah. I felt I felt fine with it. And I think it's important just to be honest. I mean, if you had been exposed to something or if you knew someone that was in close proximity to you who had been exposed or you know, was tested and did come back positive.

I hope that you would have enough morals to not come into my space, you know? And I'm just open that way, you know? And it was like, it's been a little awkward. I won't lie. When, when they did message me and I was like, look, so obviously I'm trying to take these safety precautions, like have, you know how, how has your health been?

You know? Do you know anyone. It. And, you know, we led to a very kind of straightforward conversation and ultimately we determined that it would be okay to meet so long as we kept it a very, very small group and we maintain our distance. So yeah, I'm okay. I'm okay meeting face to face. So long as we can both be very honest with each other and understand that it's going to be, you know, a little alternative than meeting.

You know, it's going to be at a distance. It's going to be. No handshaking no, no touching, you know? But we can still, we can still smile and we can still have a good time. But yeah, so those, those are, those are the two ways that I'm going about it right now.

Samantha: Awesome. So if people do,

Marcos: and it's like a. Yeah. And it is out of necessity, you know, cause I have a very small business and I have to work, you know what I mean? I have to work and I'm seeing this as a temporary situation. As one small of this has lifted, I expect it to be bombarded with work, you know? So if I can kind of sift through that before we get to that point, even though just a little, it's going to help me. you know, in the short, longterm. You know, and I, and I kind of, you made a comment on Facebook.

It's kind of like a question, I think, and I commented about kind of my perspectives and feelings on that and how I'm having to do this really out of necessity. So,

Samantha: yeah. Yeah. I think, a lot of us that are in that, you know, small business, the, we have a. Service or a product that requires face to face, one on one interaction with a lot of people, has have been spending the last couple of weeks.

I know I, I have been spending a lot of my time talking with Matt about, you know, how, how is this going to permanently impact my business? How can I keep my business running in some way, shape, or form? so that I do have a little bit of income. and then moving forward, Do I go, do I not learn anything from this experience? And do I just go back to the way things have traditionally been run or do I change? Do I change out of necessity the way that I am doing business in a way that if this happens again in six months or six years, I've kind of proofed it as much as I possibly can in this scenario. So. I liked the fact that you're, you're making those tweaks and you're, you're saying, you know, yes, I'm still open for business, but, we're going to have serious conversations about what your exposure is, how your, your health is, and I'm going to limit, limit the number of bodies that I have in the room.

And. For your customers to know that you are putting a hundred percent of your, your faith in, in them being forthright and honest with you. cause I think that's something that a lot of customers need to understand is if you are going out and about like the people that you're interacting with are, are putting their faith and trust in health. In your hands. so yeah, so don't take that lightly.

Marcos: Yeah. Serious stuff, for sure.

Covid-19 impact on garment supply chains

Samantha: Yeah. any supply chain issues? You mentioned earlier that you are going out and purchasing all of the fabric and, and accessories on your own. Have you had any, have you run into any issues getting those materials since

Marcos: that was kind of a general statement, you know, not, not necessarily referring to the process now. I'm fortunate to be in a place where I'm, I'm well-stocked. You know, I have a lot of supplies in house right now. so I don't know. I haven't really had to go out and buy anything. I did have one situation where, like I mentioned earlier, the last project I finished was a wedding dress. I needed some lace and I couldn't find it anywhere.

So I got in contact with the vendor that I worked with very closely in LA, and they were actually able to send me some stuff, which is, I was very surprised because LA is, you know, lockdowns a lot. More severe than ours, I'd say here in Utah. and basically the conversation went something like this, Hey, I need something.

Do you have it? Like we do, but it's in our warehouse and we don't have access to our warehouse. So if we have this, I don't know if they live in like their store or whatever, but, and they said if we have it in the store, then we can send it. and fortunately they were able to send it so it wasn't in their warehouse, which they don't have access to, which is kind of scary, you know, knowing that they have all of this merchandise that they don't even have access to, it's illegal.

It's illegal for them to access it. So, apart from that, I haven't had any, any issues. I mean, if, if I got desperate, I know that Joanne's is still open. I know hobby lobby is still open. And I know Walmart is still open and really locally, those are the only three stores that I, in the past purchased fabric from, or supplies, buttons, you know, notions, whatever, whatever I might need to complete a project.

So I know those stores are still open. Yeah.

Samantha: Nice. Nice. Yeah. I feel like unless you're in a major city, you probably don't have access. Right now, and even if you are in a major city, you probably don't, due to restrictions, to those larger like fabric, fabric warehouses or, or stores that kind of really sell, I mean, the, the famous one that everyone comes to mind because of.

As we alluded to earlier, Project Runway is Mood. but there are, there are many other stores similar to that Mood, model that designers like MARCOS and others really rely on to get their supplies and their fabrics. so when, when those are, when those options are limited, then yeah, you, you have to go back to hoping that Michael's or Joanne's has the zipper or the bobbin filler or, you know, all those little things.

Marcos: Yeah, but luckily I'm on top of what I need, you know? And I have, I use a lot of the same fabrics. There's some different colors. I have a lot of fabric, so hopefully that'll suffice here. I know more or less what's going to go on with my vendors in LA cause I do, most of what I get is in Los Angeles and New York.

Yeah. Yeah. But yeah, I'd say 80% if not 90% of the fabrics stuff that I need to be able to make something.

Samantha: So I alluded to it earlier, when I introduced you at the very beginning, but correct me if I'm, if I'm mistaken in this. Are you still coaching a high school team? Did you use to coach a high school team?

Marcos: No, I never coached the high school team. I did teach. I was like the main ballroom teacher at a studio but with, with, design work, I just didn't have time to continue that. I love teaching. It's definitely one of my passions. I still coach, here and there, but it's not something that I pursue as much, nearly as much as the designing goes.

Samantha: Gotcha.

Marcos: If I wish I had more time, but there's only 24 hours in a day, you know? So

Samantha: yeah. If, if you waved a magical wand and were suddenly coaching more frequently, would you, would you see yourself coaching kids, teens or adults more frequently?

Marcos: They're so different. I don't know. Oh, that's asking me if I have a preference. Right.

Samantha: which one is your favorite child?

Marcos: I liked, I liked teaching kids because I like teaching everyone, and I'm going to tell you why I like teaching kids because they're so mendable, you know, you tell them to do something that they do it, and then I like teaching adults because they're a challenge. They challenge you, you know, if you tell them to do something, they need to know why. So it really puts your experience into play, which I enjoy too. they're also very, a lot more analytical and they'll actually consider what you're saying. They'll write stuff down. and I liked that. I like being appreciated, like not as a teacher when someone takes what you say, so to heart that they're actually, you know, going about it at a very kind of educational type of way, you know? Yeah. I love teaching, and I think anyone that loves teaching will love teaching anyone because of the challenge of it and because of the unique, how unique each situation can be.

But if I had to spend the rest of my life teaching one age group, I'd say it would probably be between 10 to 15. Yeah. Between that age range.

Samantha: Yeah. They're, they're just malleable enough that you can make them do some ridiculous things and they, they just take to it like a fish to water. But they are old enough to start asking those important questions about why.

Marcos: And they also have this, Sense of awe about things, you know, and they're excited still. And they're very, they're very optimistic and they look towards the future and they're just very dreamy. And that's what I like about kids around that age. Yeah. There's a, they, they, they don't really see things for what they are. They kind of see things for the bigger picture sometimes. And I think that's very romantic, you know, a very romantic situation when it comes to someone like that and the teacher. it's fun.

Samantha: Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Well, anything else that you wanted to chat about this morning before we wrap things up?

Marcos: No. Yeah, I think we've covered a lot of ground as was a good conversation. Yeah, we talked about, we talked about a lot. We're good.

Samantha: And it was nice just seeing you and talking to you. It's been

Marcos: same.

Samantha: It's been forever since we've caught up.

Marcos: Yeah, it has been. It's, I think the last time was that you Utah Star, right?The last time I saw you

Samantha: in passing in between stuff and

Marcos: that was what, October last year? No, when was that?

Samantha: November it was right before Thanksgiving.

Marcos: Wow. Well, long time ago.

Samantha: Yeah. Yeah. It's been a hot minute. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. If, if there's one positive that I can find in this whole situation is I have been very driven over the last couple of weeks to check in with people that I haven't seen in awhile.

Marcos: It's, it's interesting is so have I, and whether I actually get to the point of messaging them or calling them, I at least think about them. so yeah, no, it's definitely kind of. It's, I think it's, it's taken us back to our human side, you know, cause we have so, so little going on that we're, I guess, little compared to what we're used to.

Yeah. And it's kind of reminded us to be human a little bit more, you know, to check, to check in on each other to make sure everyone's doing okay. So, I mean, that is definitely a plus to what's going on. Absolutely.

Samantha: Absolutely. Well, awesome. Well, thank you so much, Marcos, for coming in and chatting with me this morning. If you want to find more information about Marcos or MMD, you can use the Instagram link below his photo, over here it is "Marcos M Designs" on Instagram. He's also everywhere else on social media. But --main point of contact -- start with Instagram and then go from there. You can find me at, on Facebook at "stoutballroomdance," and on Instagram at "lovelivedance SLC." If you tuned in for this live, and you're in the chat, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

If you are listening to this later, as a podcast or on YouTube, we do this every Monday at 10:00 AM, mountain standard time.

So come chat with us. have a wonderful rest of your week. be kind to each other. Stay, stay healthy, stay happy, and we will see you, for the next one.