Eliza Gaynor Minden, Head of Design
Eliza designed and developed the Gaynor Minden pointe shoe. The impetus to create a better pointe shoe came from her own extensive experience in ballet and her frustration with conventional pointe shoes. With her husband, John Minden, a former advertising executive, she formed Gaynor Minden, Inc. to produce and market her invention.
Eliza studied Cecchetti and Royal Academy of Dancing techniques at studios in her hometown of Southport, Connecticut and received further ballet training at Jacob’s Pillow and in New York. She grew up in a ballet-loving family with a dance studio in their home. Her mother was an R.A.D. ballet teacher who would go on to found the Connecticut Dance School; her sister graduated from the School of American Ballet and danced professionally.
After earning her B.A. degree from Yale University, Eliza worked in the management of dance companies and saw their ongoing money problems exacerbated by shoes that last only one performance—the typical life span of the traditionally made pointe shoe. Non-profit dance companies, always struggling financially, are further impoverished by the pointe shoe’s lack of durability, as are dancers themselves.
As a longtime skier, sailor, and windsurfer Eliza had witnessed the introduction of new materials into athletic equipment and apparel, and had personally experienced the tremendous benefits of that modernization. It seemed natural that pointe shoes could be similarly improved by the use of advanced materials. Her knowledge of her family’s business, which designs and manufactures energy-efficient lighting, provided familiarity with the process of researching and developing a new product.
The revolutionary Gaynor Minden pointe shoe was introduced in April 1993, after nearly a decade of testing and research. Eliza holds two patents on its design and manufacture; she has four additional patents on other ballet-related inventions. She and her pointe shoe have been featured on National Public Radio, CBS News, The Discovery Channel, the BBC, on the front page of The Wall Street Journal, in the New Yorker, and in many other publications. She was named “Inventor of the Week” at M.I.T.
Eliza has lectured on ballet and ballet history throughout the United States and Europe and has written an acclaimed hardcover reference book for ballet students, The Ballet Companion, (Simon & Schuster in 2005).
Currently, as Head of Design, Eliza designs all Gaynor Minden footwear and much of its apparel, and oversees product development. She lives with her family in New York City. Send e-mail to Eliza Minden at email@example.com.