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Meet The Team


Eliza MTT

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 The Today Show, CBS Evening News, National Public Radio, 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 protected]

John MTT

John Minden, co-founder of Gaynor Minden, Inc., is a native of Manhattan. He holds a degree in Economics from Yale University and has an extensive background in marketing and advertising.

After a stint on Wall Street during the early nineteen eighties, Minden spent six years at MGA, the sales promotion subsidiary of Scali, McCabe, Sloves. There he was a pioneer in the field of joint (co-op) promotions, supervising the development and implementation of national promotion programs for numerous major brands and winning the prestigious Robbie Award for Best Promotion of the Year.

He formed his own agency, J Minden Co., in 1989 where he specialized in the design and execution of programs aimed at benefiting environmental and other causes. He served on the Board of Directors for AdNet, an association of advertising professionals working in the public interest; his pro bono clients included The Council on Economic Priorities, The Natural Resources Defense Council and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park.

In 1993, with his wife, Eliza Gaynor Minden, he started the company that would produce and market the Gaynor Minden pointe shoe. There he directs operations and oversees the company’s rapidly expanding wholesale business. The computer system he designed for the company permits a relatively small staff to manage an inventory of nearly three thousand size and style combinations in a “just in time” fashion, enabling Gaynor Minden to provide extremely quick delivery to its customers. A 2nd degree black belt in karate, Minden supplements his martial arts training with kick boxing, weight lifting, and yoga. He lives in Manhattan with his family. 

Send an e-mail to John Minden at [email protected]

Join Our Team

Join Our Team!

We are always looking for intelligent ballet enthusiasts to join our team. If that’s you, let us know! Send a resume and cover letter to [email protected].
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Sophie Boardman
VP of Products

Sophie brings to Gaynor Minden’s international team a deep experience in ballet. She grew up in Limoges, France and has trained in ballet continually since age 4, including summer intensives in Biarritz with teachers from the Paris Opera Ballet. Sophie earned her Bachelor’s degree in International Business and graduated from INSEEC, Bordeaux Business School in France, with a Master’s Degree in Marketing. During her studies, Sophie completed internships for the Scottish Ballet in Glasgow and the Bordeaux Opera Ballet. After graduating, she joined Merlet as the Dance Manager and was in charge of sales, marketing and products for 6 years. Sophie joined the Gaynor Minden team in 2017 and is spreading her passion for ballet and Gaynor Minden all around the world! Sophie oversees all aspects of Products Development and is also involved in Sales and Marketing.
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Isis Cathala
International Sales Director

Isis grew up in the South of France where she trained in ballet from 8 to 18. She danced with the Jeune Ballet de Montpellier et de l’Hérault and participated to international competitions and summer intensives with teachers from Paris Opera Ballet. Isis earned her Bachelor’s degree in International Business, and graduated from INSEEC Business School Bordeaux (France) and SRH University Berlin (Germany) with a double Master’s degree in Operational Marketing and International Management. As part of her studies, Isis worked in Paris, London, San Francisco, New York, and Philadelphia. The day after defending her thesis, Isis applied at Gaynor Minden for her dream job: developing the international business of the best ballet shoe company. She now works for Gaynor Minden from her home in France.
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Belinda Cottrill
Purchasing & Inventory Manager

Belinda joined Gaynor Minden in 2014 but she has been fitting pointe shoes and selling dancewear for over 15 years. Born in London, she began dance training at age 5 and has a BA (Honors) in Dance Performance from Middlesex University. Upon graduating she continued to dance and also worked at Freed of London followed by Bloch Europe, where she gained extensive experience in the dancewear industry. The rest, as they say, is history! Belinda oversees European operations and customer service. She is also a frequent presence at conferences and events with the team in Europe.
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Anna MTT

Anna Crisci
U.S. Sales Director

Anna started dancing at the age of four and has trained in a variety of different styles such as ballet, pointe, jazz, tap, contemporary, and hip-hop. Anna graduated from Penn State University with a bachelor’s degree in Communication, Arts and Sciences. As college came to an end, Anna did not let her enthusiasm for dance fade. She continued to take classes, one of her favorites being the Radio City Rockette Summer Intensive at Point Park University. Anna has worked in the dance world since 2006 and absolutely loves it!

Anna is responsible for business development in Mid-Atlantic and Southwest United States.
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Florrie MMT

Florrie Huang
Chief Representative in Greater China

Florrie started ballet at age 6 and was trained under Ms Pingping Wang, former principal dancer of the National Ballet of China until age 21, and has continued training in London and Shanghai in the RAD syllabus ever since. She received her RAD Advanced Certificate in 2015. Florrie studied finance at Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, and fashion marketing at London College of Fashion. Additionally, while in London (2007-2012) she learned footwear design and manufacturing at the Prescott & Mackay School of Fashion and Accessory Design.
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Karen MTT

Karen Lacy
Senior Fitter & Dance Teacher Liaison

Karen Lacy graduated from Skidmore College with a B.A. in Dance and English. She lived in New York City for 21 years, working as a professional dancer, teacher, and choreographer. She still keeps her teaching connections at Manhattan Youth Ballet and Garden State Ballet, and continues her work doing educational outreach with American Ballet Theatre. She now works for Gaynor Minden from the Philadelphia area and teaches at Dance Delaware and guest teaches at Philadelphia Dance Theatre. Karen has worked for Gaynor Minden since 1995 (she has seen a lot of feet!) and enjoys her role as Dance Teacher Liaison and Senior Fitter. Karen resides in Pennsylvania and is also responsible for business development in the Northeast United States.
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Molly McDonald
VP of Operations

Molly is originally from Dayton, Ohio, where she began dancing at Dayton Ballet School at the age of three. Throughout high school, Molly danced with Gem City Ballet under the direction of Barbara Pontecorvo, and attended summer intensives at American Ballet Theatre and Alonzo King LINES Ballet. Molly graduated from Wake Forest University with a BA in English and a minor in Dance, and moved to NYC to pursue her MA in Arts Administration at Columbia University. Molly has held internships with Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Boston Ballet School, Dayton Performing Arts Alliance, The George Balanchine Trust, The New York Choreographic Institute at New York City Ballet, and The Joyce Theater. While completing her master’s degree, Molly worked as an Administrative Associate at John Jasperse Projects and as the Managing Director of Cornfield Dance. Upon graduation from Columbia, Molly served as a Christian missionary through the World Race, working in 11 countries throughout Eastern Europe, Southern Africa, and Southeast Asia. One month after returning to the United States, Molly joined Gaynor Minden’s amazing administrative department!
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Melissa Mohan
Purchasing & Inventory Director

Originally from Missouri, Melissa went to college in North Carolina and earned her BA in Dance from Meredith College, and her MFA in Dance from UNC-Greensboro.  In Greensboro, she performed with Gamble/Van Dyke Dance for a season before deciding to move to NYC.  A lot has happened since that move in 1995!  She met her now husband, started working for Gaynor Minden, taught modern dance, performed with Donna Goffredo & Dancers, became a mother to twin daughters, taught modern dance again and found her love of hiking.
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Hanna Olvera
Products Associate

Hanna is from a small city in Finland. She began her ballet training at the age of 4 and has a BA in Dance and Art from Savonia University. Upon graduating she continued to dance and teach internationally, and has lived in Iceland, Germany and most currently in New York where she continues her dancing and teaching career. Hanna has an interest in anatomy and kinesiology, and wrote her thesis about dance injuries, studying the dancers of Finnish National Ballet. Since then she has educated herself with different holistic healing methods and earned a certificate in Thai Massage. Hanna was thrilled to join the Gaynor Minden team in 2015 and it’s innovative idea of a better pointe shoe. She works closely with the head of design and in the products department.
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Anna Pearson
Sales Manager

Anna grew up in Southeast Michigan, training pre-professionally at the Academy of Russian Classical Ballet and at summer intensives across the US. She graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Anthropology and Dance and spent 3 years in Salvador, Brazil dancing at a local studio and exploring beautiful South America. Anna started as a full-time fitter and wholesale assistant at the Gaynor Minden Boutique in New York City and now works as a Sales Manager with both the USA and International Sales Teams. Anna resides in NYC and is responsible for business development in the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest regions of the United States.
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Jessica Pelletier
Sales Director

Jessica grew up in Southern New Hampshire studying ballet under the Royal Academy of Dance (RAD) and American Academy of Ballet (AAB) syllabi. She earned a BFA in Dance and Arts Administration from George Mason University before moving to New York City and pursuing a performing career with several independent choreographers. While performing she found a passion for teaching and was certified as a National Dance Institute teacher, working with organizations bringing dance to underprivileged youth throughout the city and surrounding boroughs. She began working in dance retail in 2010 which led to a position concentrating on fitting education at the manufacturer level. She has remained committed and passionate about the education and science behind the “perfect” fitting pointe shoe—believing strongly that a great experience, at any level, inspires lifelong lovers of ballet.

Jessica is responsible for direct to consumer business development.
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Natalie Pitt
B2B Marketing & Experience Manager

Natalie, an “enlightened” blonde from Huntington Beach, CA, moved to New York City in 2017 to work with Gaynor Minden. A professional dancer for 10 years, Natalie performed all over the world with renowned companies and shows. She made her start as a ballerina with Festival Ballet Theater in Southern California and went on to perform with The Disneyland Resort, Celebrity Cruise Lines, and Donn Arden’s Jubilee! in Las Vegas, NV. Hoping to use her communications studies degree from California State University, Long Beach, Natalie worked with a number of clients on their digital marketing campaigns, honing her skills in graphic design, social media, and public relations in Los Angeles at Fox Studios, Hypomania Content, National Charity League, Inc., and Elite Resorts & Spas. Natalie is happy to be serving on the Gaynor Minden team specializing in Customer Experience and Event Management.
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Jeanne MTT

Jeanne Share
Vice President of Special Projects

Jeanne was born in Atlanta, and grew up in North Carolina. She trained in ballet from the age of 6 to 20, including summer intensives and zillions of Nutcrackers. She earned a bachelor’s degree in French with a minor in Art History from Wake Forest University. She studied abroad in Europe before moving to France for two years to teach disobedient school children. While at Wake Forest, Jeanne worked at Carolina Dancewear (one of Gaynor Minden’s first customers!). Visiting an old friend at the Gaynor Minden office in early 2005 led to an international sales assistant position, and the rest is history. She is now one of Gaynor Minden’s International Sales Directors, and lives in Amsterdam, spreading the GM love throughout Europe, Russia, and beyond.
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Lisa Ushino
Senior Brand Creative

Lisa was born and raised in Southern California and has danced professionally with Houston Ballet, Ballet Tucson, Festival Ballet Theatre, and Rochester City Ballet, in addition to various guesting opportunities. In 2015, after dancing professionally for 10 years, she moved to NYC. Lisa joined the Gaynor Minden family in 2016.
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