Meet The Team

Julie Michelle Wilson
Owner, Co-Founder, & Dancer

Brenda Wilson
Co-Founder & Director of Merchandising

Francesca Lacroix

Connie Yesh (Aunt Connie)
Dress Studio Hostess

Barbara Eckman
Office Coordinator

Tammy Tran
Seamstress

Rachel Seaman
In-House Dress Manager

Callie Maginnis
Dress Technician Intern

Emma Francois
Fashion Correspondent & Writer, Hairpins to Hemlines

Brianna Daines
Dress Technician

Maggie Gibson
Dress Technician

Annette Pizzimenti
Accountant

Rassi Borneo
Photographer

Nick “Hardcore Encore” Heufelder
Competition Coordinator & Logistics

Stef
Web Master

Julie Wilson
OWNER, CO-FOUNDER, & DANCER

“I am the creative one! The choreographer, the Professional Dancer, the lover of fashion and fine arts. I feel extremely fortunate to combine dance, fashion, and working with my Mother as a lifelong career. “Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.” (J.M. Barrie) We have such a wonderful time working with ladies of all sizes, ages, and from all walks of life. We truly have been given a gift that we can help women feel wonderful with just one dress. We celebrate dance, we celebrate fashion, and we celebrate women.”

“…Sitting down putting my shoes on, I anxiously await for dance class to begin. I eagerly listen to every word the instructor says. I practice at home in front of our fireplace that I pretend is a stage and put on special performances for my parents and dog; sometimes using a chair as my partner. During one performance I misjudged my partner and broke my arm. The cast itched, but looked much better after I jazzed it up! The day we are fitted for our show costumes is always the best day ever. One is so pretty with sequins and a bright yellow color, I wear it every chance I get, for Halloween, school events, shows, you name it. I love putting on a show for people and telling a story through my dance. I never get nervous, and never want to leave the stage. This is my home, this is my life, I am a dancer…”

Julie was born in Washington, D.C and raised in the great state of Virginia! She graduated from Marymount University located in Arlington, Virginia, with a Bachelor of Arts Degree. While in college she was an exchange student at the University of Central Queensland, Australia through the University of Long Island, South Hampton College studying tropical marine ecology on the Great Barrier Reef. Her second exchange program was through Michigan University where she backpacked through England, France, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, and Italy studying art history. Julie was a straight “A” student and member of Beta-Psi/Alpha Phi Sigma and Psi-Chi National Honor Societies. She was an Ambassador for Marymount University and presented a Leadership Award for establishing their collegiate cheerleading program. Her scholastic achievements warranted her the Presidential Academic Fitness Award for outstanding academic achievement signed by President Bill Clinton. She was accepted and attended the Institute for the Arts, studying music, dance, drama, Broadway stage makeup/special effects, and sculpting. Julie was awarded the Outstanding Recent Graduate Award by Marymount University in recognition of her professional accomplishments and humanitarian contributions.

For close to two decades Julie has followed her passion, and love for dance as a Professional Ballroom Instructor in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area. She is certified by the World Professional Dance Teachers Association in American Smooth, and American Rhythm dance styles. Julie quickly acquired many Top Instructor awards including one at a world event; Overall Most Entries Danced as an Instructor at a major competition (male or female); numerous Top Student Awards; and 1st Place award in sales worldwide. She was a selected Professional to choreograph a swing routine with a selected “non” dancer from the public, to compete in the Washington Auto Shows’ Dancing for Toyota’s. Julie danced with the touring company for Dancing with the Stars. In Fall, 2018 Julie started competiting with a new professional partner, and placed 5th at World Championships in January, 2019.

Currently she is the Owner and Co-Founder of Encore Ballroom Couture, the leading consignment and consignment rental haute couture dress company in the ballroom industry. She considers herself a Dress Broker, turning her clients’ dresses into cash! Julie is also a celebrity stylist, focusing on special events, television appearances, premieres, and award shows. She feels fortunate to work side by side with her Mother who is the Co-Founder and Director of Merchandising, and Finance. Several years after establishing Encore, she spearheaded a program in partnership with Gold Stars, donating previously loved ballroom costumes to well deserving youth. The youth from economically challenged families are provided free dance education while maintaining an approved GPA in school. To date Encore has donated over $500,000 worth of costumes. For more information on Gold Stars please see: https://encoreballroomcouture.com/donate-your-dresses/ Julie is an Invited Member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She looks forward to bringing recognition to the achievements of women artists of all periods and nationalities. The National Museum of Women in the Arts is the ONLY institution of its kind in the world. Additionally, Julie is an Invited Member of the National Association of Professional Women.

Fall, 2012 she founded Hairpins to Hemlines fashion editorial. It is the first of its kind in the ballroom dance industry. It is an editorial explaining current mainstream fashion trends, educating dancers on how to select a fashion forward dance wardrobe. It is produced seasonally, and Julie is the Creative Designer. She enjoys writing special features on new technologies in the fashion industry, recently focusing on Biocouture, Epidermial Electronics, and Wearables. Recently she was invited to discuss these technologies with STEM students, and explain what a future in science-based fashion could entail.

Fall 2012, Julie was nominated and selected for the 83rd Joint Civilian Orientation Conference. She had a tremendous experience meeting our military service men and women and learning what life is like for them on a daily basis. She heard their insights and concerns, and walked away with a new appreciation of their sacrifice and bravery. Something she took away was that our military is made up of volunteers, and that we are still engaged in military combat every minute of every day. To think there are men and women currently fighting for our freedom, away from their families, and risking their life, for us, is awe-inspiring. Julie has so much respect for her fellow participants, staff, and US Military. She encourages everyone to help out service men and women in your community any way you can. Julie personally advocates for Companions for Heros and Dogs on Deployment. Julie is a financial sponsor of The Wounded Warrior Project. She founded Toppers for Troopers, a hair donation program associated with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center helping service members and their families suffering from hair loose due to injury, illness or treatment. For more information on Toppers For Troopers please see: https://encoreballroomcouture.com/toppers-for-troopers/

Julie was awarded the title of Ms. Ireland USA 2018 and competed in Dublin, Ireland in January 2019, placing 1st Runner Up. She has been very proud to represent the Caldwell family whose Baronetage was founded on June 23, 1683 in Wellsborough, Northern Ireland. Castle Caldwell is located at Templecarne, County Fermanagh, at the west end of Lower Lough Erne, and is now a national park, which is open to the public. In 1849, John Caldwell Bloomfield established Belleek Pottery, which is known the world over for creating original and unique porcelain pieces. Each one is made using traditional methods passed down from generation to generation, and 16 pairs of hands touch a piece from start to finish. Queen Victoria, the Prince of Wales and nobility became collectors of Belleek products. Queen Victoria’s Museum in England, has one of her favorite Belleek pieces on display. Belleek Pottery has stood the test of time, and is a tribute to the land and culture of Ireland. They have recently acquired Galway Irish Crystal, Aynsley China, and Donegal China. For more information on Julie’s family history or bio, see: https://www.msirelandusa.com/

As Ms. Virginia 2017, Julie raised awareness for “Women and Girls in Science” and “STEAM”/STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) Arts. She is passionate about introducing girls to science and connecting them with phenomenal women scientists who can mentor their scientific exploratory desires. It has been a pleasure for Julie to attend STEM events and educate students on biocouture, the concept of growing material from bacteria. For more information on biocouture please see: https://youtu.be/z2SXuRRBXwY Julie believes the only way our country will move forward technologically is by CREATIVE STEM minds. She has had a passion for science, fashion, and dance from a young age. Julie is a member of the National Air and Space Society, and Smithsonian Associates. She enjoys attending science based lectures, and meeting astronauts, theorists, and artists that currently engage and change the world around us. For fun, Julie is studying astrobiology online through Harvard University.

Yes it’s true; Julie was also America’s Ms Virginia 2011! She is the first woman in the state of Virginia to accomplish a double win!!! During her time as America’s Ms Virginia 2011, Julie eagerly drew attention towards her national platform of eye cancer awareness. It was after losing a dear friend who experienced no signs or symptoms; she made it her mission to spread the word about this aggressive form of cancer. For more information about prevention and early detection, please visit the Eye Cancer Foundation. Remember to incorporate a complete annual eye exam with dilation into your annual medical exams and always wear your sunglasses–stay cool and cancer free!

Julie is very proud to be on the Board of Directors of Humane Dominion, which is a driving force in the State of Virginia striving for more humane laws for animals. Julie has such a passion for animals that she hosts many fundraising events for local shelters, sponsors pull/adoption fees for shelter animals, and participates with lobbying. She has joined The Humane Society of the United States in lobbying to end fox penning, and importation of shark fins in the State of Virginia. She has signed close to 1,000 petitions in favor of better laws to protect wildlife and companion animals in the US and abroad. Julie has been recognized as a Humane Hero by The Humane Society of The United States and is a proud supporter and contributor to the documentary film “Guarding Dogs.” She is a member of The Nature Conservatory, and lives a vegan/compassionate lifestyle.

Julie has always been very athletic! She was a competitive gymnast, tennis player, swimmer, horseback rider, and soccer player. In her free time she is an accomplished pianist of 30 plus years, and an acrobat through the Trapeze School New York. Her true passion is her company which she devotes nearly every minute of her day to. “I am completely devoted to all of my ladies and making them feel their best.” Julie is a member of the Women’s Civic League of Baltimore, MD. Growing up her Grandmother instilled a sense of helping the community while surrounding yourself with gracious, ambitions, fabulous women; ladies who could save the world white wearing a hat and gloves. Julie enjoys designing hats, and has won multiple hat design contests. For the past ten years she has hosted a design contest for adults and children in Mount Vernon Place, Baltimore, MD.

Brenda Wilson
CO-FOUNDER & DIRECTOR OF MERCHANDISING

“I started my fashion career as a photographic and runway model after graduating from John Robert Powers Modeling Academy and is a past President of their Alumni Association. I then went on to compete in the Miss. America International beauty pageant. This gave me the opportunity to be exposed to many different stylists and designers. I am currently married to my high school sweetheart, Walter, and this year we will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. By profession, I am an obstetrical nurse. I have enjoyed a career spanning over 35 years. In my free time, I am an avid tennis player, currently co-captaining two USTA 3.5 tennis teams. I also keep busy with managing a tennis flight at the local athletic club where I have been a member for the last 30 years.

Julie is our only child, so we definitely bask in her many successes. When she became involved in ballroom dance, first as a student, then as a Professional, I did all the pricing, style, selection, i.e. merchandising for her. I was instrumental in coordinating her wardrobe for her while she was teaching and competing in the ballroom world. I enjoy the opportunity of working with my daughter Julie in our business. It allows us to spend lots of quality time together and is an exciting whirlwind of feathers, sequins and beautiful dresses. It gives the opportunity to meet many wonderful people and travel to places we haven’t been before.

I handle the merchandising for the company and welcome any questions or comments!”

Nick “HARDCORE ENCORE” Heufelder
COMPETITION COORDINATOR & LOGISTICS

Nick was born and raised in Falmouth, Massachusetts, and is a certified firefighter and paramedic. When he isn’t busy saving people’s lives, or taking longs walks on the beach, he manages and orchestrates Encore’s vendor displays including setup and teardown. He works directly with the hotels and competition organizers to make sure everything runs smoothly. Nick is well known for our elaborate and stunning vendor displays at competitions; he certainly knows how to light up a room!! While on-site, Nick enjoys interacting with clients and helping them select their next ballroom look!  He is a delight, and truly part of the family.  Nick has been HARDCORE ENCORE for 8 years and counting!

CONNIE YESH (AUNT CONNIE)
DRESS STUDIO HOSTESS

Constance L. Yesh (Connie) was born and raised in Uniontown, PA. At age five, she enrolled in dance lessons and continued courses in ballet, pointe, tap, acrobat and modern jazz through high school. She attended Earl Wheeler Modeling School in Pittsburgh and did modeling in the Pittsburgh area. Connie attended Northern Virginia Community College for two years, and participated in an infomercial for Sandra Cope International Aloe Spectrum skin care.

She worked for the U.S. House of Representatives for thirty-two years. While employed on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Connie had the opportunity to do extensive traveling all over the world. After retiring from Capitol Hill, she was employed in the federal government relations office of Ashland Inc. (formerly Ashland Oil) for eight years.

At age forty-seven, she started taking ballroom lessons and competed in all American Style dances with her amateur partner, Eddie Gooden, under the coaching of Rickey Geiger. They usually placed in the top six couples within their age and level categories. When they stopped competing, Connie started west coast swing and country western dance lessons with Kenny Roesel. Connie competed PRO-AM with Kenny, and won a world championship in country western dancing in Canada. She loves dancing Latin and Hustle dance styles. Under the instruction of Joyce Szili, she successfully competed with teachers in PRO-AM and with fellow amateurs at many hustle competitions. She and Eddie also danced on Joyce’s, Just Hustle DC Dance Team. After a two year break from dancing, Connie and Eddie took lessons from Nick Short and started to do performances again at various events and locations in MD, VA and DC.

Dancing is her happy place, but the real sparkle in her life is spending quality time with her son, Troy, and Yorkie, Roxie!

Francesca LACROIX

Francesca was born on November 3, 2018 in sunny California. She is a documented purebred Pomeranian, with very rare coloring, and sparkling personality. Francesca is considered a micro teacup weighting in at three pounds. After she was weened, Francesca took flight to Las Vegas where she resided for a few months. On February 14, 2019, Valentine’s Day, she was gifted to Julie on a first date. Her date wanted her to have something that would love her every day of the year. Though still single, Julie loves her new plus one!

She is named after Julie’s favorite haute couture designer, Christian Lacroix. Francesca loves visiting with people, organic turkey breast, and wearing her Susan Lucci Designs.

Callie Maginnis
DRESS TECHNICIAN INTERN

Callie Maginnis is from Waldorf, MD. She attends Virginia Commonwealth University and is completing a double major in Fashion Design and English. Callie hopes to have a career in either costume design or designing bridal gowns. She loves vintage fashion, art, and reading books. She is also an avid equestrian and competes at American Quarter Horse Association Shows with her horse, Sonny.

Tammy Tran
SEAMSTRESS

Tammy was born in Cam Ranh, Vietnam and moved to the U.S. when she was 14 years old. She grew up in a big family with eight siblings and started sewing in high school. She was trained as a dressmaker and expert seamstress at San Diego Mesa College for Fashion Design. During her schooling, she was contracted to work with an apparel manufacturer in California.

Tammy has worked in various fashion houses, major department stores, Claire Dratch Boutique, David’s Bridal, Nordstroms, and Mae’s Boutique in McLean, Virginia. Tammy moved to Virginia when she got married, and now has two children. Tammy opened her own store in 2008. She is a fantastic seamstress specializing in ballroom dress alterations. Tammy is a treasure to our ballroom ladies, helping them achieve the perfect fit!

Barbara Eckman
OFFICE COORDINATOR

Barbara Eckman here! Little about myself? Well, I was born one of six girls! Yep! I am # 9 of 11 kids! All from the same parents too! I grew up outside of Dallas, TX, and studied Broadcast Communication and Theatre at Brookhaven Community College.

Since childhood I have had big love for fashion, acting, and singing in the shower. Dancing is a huge source of joy for me! I was a professional dancer in my twenties, and although I haven’t danced ballroom, I absolutely adore and admire it! I mean really? What’s not to Love?? I am also a HUGE fan of Dancing with the Stars!!

Currently am a Certified Meditation Guide, and proud Mother of four boys! Two I even got to adulthood!! When I’m not teaching others to find their center, following my passion in entertainment, or instructing little boys on how to be good men, I teach Sunday School to middle school aged children!

I had a short lived pageant competition career. I won the Miss Southern Charm Debutante Queen in 1980! I left the pageant world but never forgot the feeling of wearing my little tiara!! Maybe that is where I fell in love with sparkle!!?!!

It is with great joy, a real dream come true, to work with a company that specializes in Cinderella moments! Julie and Brenda work their magic before your very eyes, and within one appointment slot make dreams come true.

Brianna Daines
DRESS TECHNICIANA INTERN

Brianna participated in the Fairfax Fashion Academy, and joined Team Encore as an Intern. She learned valuable skills working with stretch fabrics and intricate beading. She is currently continuing her studies in Fashion Design and International Business, at SCAD. She plans on studying abroad in China and France at the end of this year.

Rachel Seaman
IN-HOUSE DRESS MANAGER

Her interest in fashion started at a very young age. She grew up in Falls Church, Virginia, right on the outskirts of Washington D.C. Being so close to the nation’s capital, she saw people from all over the world and how they dressed. Rachel went to private school and wore a uniform five days a week. She longed for the weekend, where she would put on her favorite Belle dress, from Beauty and Beast, and my mom’s over-sized heels. Rachel has always been fascinated with how putting on a certain piece of clothing can completely transform one’s self-image. Her love for fashion brought her to Marymount University, where she majored in Fashion Design and minored in Fashion Merchandising. She graduated with the top G.P.A. of her class.

After college, Rachel joined the Encore Ballroom Couture team. She could tell from her very first interview, surrounded by the elegant dresses, that this is a world that she wanted to be a part of. “Ballroom screams color, beauty, art, fashion, glitz and glam. You can’t put on a ballroom dress without looking and feeling beautiful.”

Rachel’s passions include designing her own clothing, traveling all over the world, and spending time with friends and family.

Maggie Gibson
DRESS TECHNICIAN

Maggie was a student at James Madison High School, as well as the Fairfax Fashion Academy for gifted artistic students. In 2013, she began working for Encore as a Dress Technician Intern. Maggie graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology with Bioethics minor.  She was a member of the Delta Gamma Fraternity, and Bioethics Society.  Since graduating she worked at the University of Virginia Health System, Bone Marrow Transplant Unit, and Department of Pediatrics Hematology/Oncology Unit. Maggie is now living and working in Washington DC at Vanda Pharmaceuticals.  She is a ray of sunshine, sweet as pie, and excellent with assisting ladies in the fitting room.  We always enjoy seeing her and wish her much success in all of her life goals!

Emma Francois
FASHION CORRESPONDENT & WRITIER, HAIRPINS TO HEMLINES

Emma recently graduated from Georgetown University, where she majored in English and double minored in art history and studio art. There, she wrote for and edited her college newsmagazine, The Georgetown Voice, leading the production and design of their annual fashion issues. She has also written for such publications as The Chautauquan Daily and USA Today, and is the founder and co-host of the fashion and politics podcast, Stripped. She lives for following the sartorial world and loves analyzing the fashion industry through every lens, be it economic or artistic. Writing Hairpins to Hemlines each season is one of her greatest joys, and she is so thankful for the opportunity to share her love of fashion with the talented followers of Encore Ballroom Couture

Annette Pizzimenti
ACCOUNTANT

Annette Pizzimenti is a versatile and successful financial executive with an extensive history of accomplishments in government contracting, wireless technology, banking, energy, manufacturing, real estate, and initial enterprise formations.

Annette played a key role in the formation of the international consortium created to own and operate the world’s first private satellite system in the 1990’s; planning for, and helping to raise over $1.6 billion in private equity. In the late 1990’s she worked in London, UK as CFO for SatCom International, a franchisee of ORBCOMM, where her experience with financial reporting and foreign currency translation proved invaluable.

With diverse experiences in financial reporting, systems implementation, tax preparation, facilities management and HR, Annette is a well-rounded financial collaborator who can be of significant value across a wide variety of needs. She has worked with Encore Ballroom Couture for 10 years and always gleams much excitement to see our latest dress arrivals.

Rassi Borneo
Photographer

Rassi was born and raised in Northern Virginia, and graduated from Virginia Tech. He and his wife Bryony have been award winning amateur competitors for 15 years, and Rassi has been a professional dance photographer for 10 years. “My photography has brought me in contact with so many interesting people and places. There have been weddings, and waltzes, churches and cha-chas, singers and sambas all in front of my lens. There has not been an assignment or event that I have not had a tinge of excitement the night before.”

Rassi has been photographing the dresses for Encore Ballroom Couture since April 1, 2010. Julie and Rassi met on the dancefloor, when she had the great fortune of being his dance instructor. All of the dress photographs on our website were taken by Rassi; he is fantastic to work with, as he understands the functionality of our fashions, and extreme focus on detail.

Stef
Web Master

Stef is a California native that recently moved to Pennsylvania to live on a farm. He has a vast background in numerous technology settings. Stef manages the EBC website on a daily basis and helps keep it up and running. He likes long walks on the beach and surfing the globe.