Stephanie Waters: Ballettonet

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About Stephanie Waters

Stephanie Waters is the co-founder of Ballettonet, an online store for handcrafted Italian footwear for women. The idea of Ballettonet was established while she was on maternity leave with her first child. Ten months later, Ballettonet officially launched in August 2013, a month before her second child was born! Stephanie met with the families behind each of the brands, many of which have been in operation for several generations. Each of the labels under the Ballettonet banner are respected makers. Some are contracted by the great European luxury houses to supply for their collections. Until now, none of these brands have been available to the Australian consumer. Stephanie previously worked in corporate communications for over six years within the business, health and community sectors. Stephanie believes you should live your life in shoes you love. Her mission is to continue to offer women beautifully made flats with a notable provenance, at a moderate price point.




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About Ballettonet

Ballettonet is an online store for the finest Italian ballet flats. Our philosophy is about choosing quality, supporting transparency and being inspired by simplicity. We profile each of our makers on the website so customers know who, where and how the shoes are made. Our range is almost wholly based around the classic ballet flat. The ballet flat is a fashion staple in the ever changing fashion scene and will easily adapt with our more global, transient lifestyles. Our collections range from Basics, Active Wear and Limited Editions. Our Limited Edition styles are capsule collections that are designed by notable creatives. Each capsule collection is influenced by their own unique style and are exclusive to Ballettonet. Our name, pronounced ‘bah-leh-toe-net’, was created to encompass the grace, discipline and style that ballet instills. So Ballettonet is a play on the word ‘balletto’, which is Italian for ‘ballet’. Ballettonet is based in Melbourne, Australia and ships worldwide.


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Q & A with Stephanie Waters, founder of Ballettonet


What’s the story behind your business?

My husband and I were inspired to establish Ballettonet during a family holiday travelling all across Italy. Little did we know that this whirlwind trip around Italy would ignite a passion to bring the beautiful ballerines made by local craftsmen to Australian shores. We fell in love with the European approach to business – family-centric with knowledge passed down from generation to generation. We witnessed first-hand the value of retaining age-old traditions and modern techniques in the end product. Traditionally, handcrafted Italian footwear is marked up 6-10 times by the time it reaches consumers – but we wanted to challenge the status quo. We had the belief that there were others who would appreciate beautifully made ballet flats with a notable provenance, at a moderate price point. So we simplified the process, cut out the middlemen, and created a way to make owning the finest Italian ballet flats more attainable.

With a desire to support the makers and their craft we established Ballettonet. Ballettonet is based on the following values:

  • Choosing Quality:  Handcrafted with the finest leathers and materials sourced and entirely made in Italy to ensure quality and authenticity. To maintain control over our manufacturing process and quality standards,we have a great relationship with our makers in Italy. We feel better knowing our footwear is made ethically and responsibly, while also cutting out more middlemen (and markups) by working directly with the makers.
  • Supporting Transparency: When we save, you save. Know what you’re paying for… and what you’re not: X storefront costs X enormous wholesale to retail markup X middleman X marked up designer label Our prices come from using only high quality materials and ethical labor practices. Genuine high quality nappa, patent, suede and kid leather hold their shape for longer and age better once worn. While we strive to keep our prices as affordable as possible, we would never sacrifice quality to do so. We’re excited about our edit of Italian ballet flats, and we want you to feel that you deserve great quality shoes. You won’t find enormous retail markups, middlemen, storefront costs, or an inflated designer label here. Our vision is about removing the clutter and creating beautiful shoes through a new kind of process – without the traditional markups.
  • Inspired by Simplicity: The beauty is in the details. We’re detail obsessed. While believing that less is more, we concentrate on creating and selecting the ideal version of key footwear staples. Our ballerines are designed and selected to compliment and enhance your own unique style, no matter the occasion, time or day. Through simplicity and minimalism we create a base for versatile, daily elegance. Wearable, classic styles that speak for themselves – designed to compliment your style, not define it.

What was your first job?

My first paying job was working as an Office Junior at my local medical clinic during my high school years. I also volunteered a lot during my high school and tertiary education. My parents taught me the importance of working hard, contributing to the community and appreciating the value of money.

When you decided to start your own business, what was your big “why”?

I was on maternity leave with my first child and I wanted a job that was flexible enough for me to be around my son during the first few years of his life. After being refused flexible work arrangements to transition back into my last role at a financial services company, I resigned the same day they handed their decision and focused on establishing Ballettonet. I haven’t looked back!

What have you had to give up?

I’ve had to give up financial security that comes in the form of a stable income and the social aspect of working in a team at a company. However these things cannot compare to the excitement and creative opportunities from running my own business. There is a lot more risk involved and it gets scary at times, but this only helps me focus on succeeding and doing my best.

What are some of the most exciting projects you’ve worked on?

We recently launched a collaboration with Erin Maxwell, founder of fashion and lifestyle blog, Love Shop Share. It’s been over a year in the making. She designed seven gorgeous styles of flats that are made entirely in Italy. They’re available more as limited editions on our website. These projects make work so much fun! We occasionally hold pop up sale events in Melbourne and I love having the chance to meet our customers and to speak with them in person. Check out the limited edition range here.

What would you tell your younger self not to do?

Don’t play it safe too often. Don’t think you need to have all the skills to start. Don’t sign contracts that aren’t detailed and thought through. Don’t stop listening to your intuition. Don’t think you can do it without a supportive network of family and friends around you.

What’s next for you and your business?

There are a few exciting projects coming up for Ballettonet, including the next creative collaboration with a celebrated fashion illustrator, Kerrie Hess.We are also collaborating with one of our makers to create an exclusive range of sneakers that are perfect for women who love activewear and sports-luxe fashion. Looking forward to when we can announce the good news!


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