Pointe ballet shoes, used by ballerinas who perform on their toes, was designed more than a century ago and is made of paper, glue and fabric. To improve the fit of the shoes, dancers would stuff their toes in lamb’s wool or household items such as paper towels and makeup pads.
However, some dancers are embracing custom-molded shoe inserts made from silicone putty, a distinctly modern product from a Bay Area start-up called PerfectFit Pointe. The inserts are meant to help distribute dancers’ weight more evenly and prevent skin abrasions like blisters and corns.
Kelly Schmutte, the PerfectFit Pointe founder, initially marketed her product to dance stores and ballet studios. When some elite studios expressed reluctance, she decided to take a different tack: She approached professional dancers directly through Instagram.