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Freed Maker System

The question we are asked most often is "why is it so difficult to obtain Freed individual Maker or Special Make Up shoes". The simple answer is that it isn't difficult provided you don't expect to receive the shoes immediately. Why then can it take up to 6 months to receive them?

The answer is mainly related to the method by which Freed manufacture and distribute their Pointe shoes. Flexibility in manufacturing is one of Freed's great strengths whilst at the same time this flexibility results in the subsequent distribution being their great weakness and results in many frustrated stockist's and dancers. It would be wrong to simply say they are poor or uninterested in getting their shoes out quickly to dancers without first understanding the problems they face.

The problems start when you analyse the maker system in detail. Most Pointe shoe manufacturers will supply a variety of styles and sizes to accommodate dancers. They will often provide a more personal service to many Professional Dancers in the major Ballet Companies. However, even with special make up shoes the dancer would rarely be familiar with the individual who shaped their shoe, i.e. the maker.

Freed mark each of their shoes with not just the style and size but also the stamp of the individual who made them. Visit the factory and you could track him or occasionally her down. Don't forget, there are many other people who assist with this process. With around 30 makers and an infinite number of variations it is not difficult to understand how distribution becomes a little more complex than for a company that does not distinguish between it's makers, i.e. 30 times more.

A maker's workload is split into stock and special make up shoes. A maker can only make a certain number of shoes each day and so if demand is high for one maker it is not possible to simply increase production or pass some of the work on to a different maker. Makers like the rest of us are occasionally off sick and this can have a dramatic effect on schedules. Other Manufacturers can simply move the order to someone else but not Freed as each maker is unique.

Even the most popular makers who have large waiting lists will make a certain number of shoes for stock. This ensures their shoes will be available to a wider number of dancers and hopefully lead to continuity in demand as some of their special make up dancers retire. Clearly, for each maker there must be a balance between meeting special orders from existing dancers whilst allowing shoes to filter in the normal distribution channel.

As a Freed customer, you will fit into one of three main groups:

1. Customers that require a shoe in a style and size, e.g. Freed SBTD (Classic) in a 5XX.

2. Customers that require a shoe in a style, size and maker, e.g. Freed SBTD (Classic) in a 5XX made by Crown maker.

3. Customers that require a shoe in a style, size, maker and with specific variations, e.g. a Freed Shoe in a 5XX plus a heel pin, a ¾ Combined back, a 3 ½" vamp, 2" side, Extra Paste, Elastic drawstrings, Crown maker, etc.

The first group is reasonably easy to accommodate by most stockist's assuming they carry a reasonable level of stock and supplies from the factory are good. Shoes will normally be available immediately.

The second group becomes more difficult as Freed to not distinguish between makers when they distribute to stockist's. This means that if a stockist places an order for shoes then the makers received are totally random. It could be that the stockist requires a certain maker and that maker may be in the stock at the Freed warehouse but the person responsible for packing the order will not check for makers simply picking the order blindly. It therefore becomes a lottery as to what is received. This means that the only way stockist's can ensure a regular supply of specific Makers is by special ordering them.

I am sure you are asking the question "Why"? Freed believe that the work involved in separating makers as well as style, size and width would be too demanding. It is obvious that dancers in group 3 who require shoes made to their own specific style must wait for shoes to be made but it also means that dancers in group 2 must also have shoes made to order unless they want to spend much of their time calling numerous stockist's checking to see if they have the required maker.

At times this system can make a stockist look rather foolish as a dancer may be told by one stockist that they must wait months for a certain maker yet may be lucky and find another stockist with the shoes on the shelf. Without fully understanding the process it is not uncommon for some dancers to feel they are being lied to. You may think that it is up to the stockist to have all permutations on the shelf but if you work out the mathematics; there are 4 standard Freed shoes, 5 width fittings, 20 sizes and about 30 makers. To keep one of each possible combination in stock would result in 12,000 pairs of shoes. Most people ordering makers will take a minimum of 3 pairs at a time, this would equate to 36,000 pairs of shoes. This assumes that no one would order the same size/maker before the previous order could be replaced and does not take into consideration special measurements. It is simply not viable!

As a dancer, the only sure way of obtaining Makers or Special Make up shoes is by placing an order well in advance of when you need them.

If you have any questions on the process or wish to share your thoughts then email us as we'd love to hear them.