PITTSFIELD, Maine — Ballet is very much an art of details, and with most instructors even an injury is no excuse to interrupt a dancer’s pirouette.
Kristina Lord-Linde of Pittsfield, who has four dancing daughters and a downtown boutique that specializes in dance costumes and accessories, knows ballet. So when one of her daughters suffered injuries to her lower legs and her instructor wouldn’t allow bulky heat and cold packs during practice, Lord-Linde saw an opportunity.
That was 18 months ago, and today she’s marketing a line of products under the name Harmony Healing Products that she says aren’t just for ballerinas. In fact, some of her first sales have been to some hardy central Maine hunters looking for something better than a sock to warm their feet.
“What do hunters, hikers, typists and ballerinas have in common?” Lord-Linde asked Thursday during an interview at Chalice, a downtown Pittsfield dancing accessories store and design studio that she owns. “The answer is pain and discomfort with everything from pulled muscles to twisted ankles to carpal tunnel.”
Lord-Linde said her products are simply designed with their greatest strength in details such has hand-sewn seams, adjustable straps and form-fitting micro-fleece material. Her products include a boot, an ankle cuff and the “Harmony Gauntlette,” which is worn on the forearm and wrist. In addition to the insulation offered by the fleece, each product has pockets sewn for hot or cold packs.
“This is the only product like this in the world,” said Lord-Linde. “I say that with confidence because when my daughter got hurt, I looked all over.”
From the beginning, Lord-Linde recognized that she needed to come up with something as thin as possible, and not just for aesthetic reasons. In an art as nuanced as ballet, it’s crucial for an instructor to have an unfettered view of a dancer’s foot and ankle positions. That Lord-Linde’s products fit tightly opens them up to anyone following a doctor-ordered icing or heating regimen — or anyone who wants warm feet without the bulk.
Lord-Linde has home-based stitchers in the area — the first of whom lived in Harmony, leading to the venture’s name — and buys split leather soles from Irving Tanning Co. in Hartland. The Perfect Fit leather store in Corinna cuts the soles, and Black Dog Graphics in Clinton provides the bags the products are sold in.
“It was important for me to keep this as local as possible,” said Lord-Linde, though she has her sights set on far larger markets. She is in the process of marketing the products to large outdoor sporting goods and dance-affiliated retailers. Once she secures some contractors, she’ll be looking for a handful of investors willing to put up $5,000 apiece to launch production. Lord-Linde, who moved to Pittsfield in 2002 from New Mexico, has owned and worked closely with several businesses over the years, said she’s learned a little from each experience.
“I’ve learned my lessons,” she said. “You stay as solo as you possibly can for as long as you can.”
Harmony Healing Products can be purchased at Chalice at costs ranging from $9 for the ankle cuff to $36 for the boots. For more information, Lord-Linde can be reached at 487-8040.