What secrets of success can Dita Von Teese teach us?

In one sense, she has one main reason for her success:

  1. She loves what she does every day. She has had a fetish with lingerie since she worked at a lingerie shop as a teenager. It was her obsession and she studied old films and starlets from the ’30s and ’40s. The glamorous styling she studied and mimicked. This laid the foundation for her routine and her career.

Known best for dancing semi-naked in a martini glass the size of a bar and for marrying Marilyn Manson, Dita Von Teese has come from humble beginnings in a small town in Michigan to an internationally known burlesque, fashion, and cover woman icon. She has created a niche for herself, that didn’t previously exist. How did she do it?

She started dancing as a go-go dancer, but she was a failed ballet dancer as a kid. Dita didn’t let failure knock her off track, her failure led her to alternative dancing which led her to burlesque and fame. But there is more to her success:

  1. Create your own style. She didn’t have the internet, or DVD players back when she started. Von Teese looked at old movies on VHS and books, on actresses from Hollywood’s golden age. Dita copied and learned on her own what to do.
  2. Give the audience more entertainment than they’ve paid. Her shows are extravagant and the costumes are exquisite, and she makes the audience want more, giving her fans an amazing show. Her loyal fans worship her for a reason. She entertains.
  3. She works hard. Everyone says they do, she does. It’s an act of love because she loves her work. Whether it be designing her shows, creating a new fragrance, or clothing product, or writing a book, she put in the effort because she wants it great.
  4. Always look the part. She looks fabulous after a workout, usually Pilates, where she’ll be classy as ever, with her signature red lipstick and styled clothing. Dita knows she is a style icon and refuses to be underdressed. It must be a hassle, but she plays for keeps and makes sure she dresses and looks like her iconic self.
  5. Dita has a keen sense of the market.  Von Teese started off her burlesque career catering her shows towards male fans. As time passed, her audience changed, as increasing numbers of middle-aged women and gay men appeared at her shows. She didn’t ignore the signs, she changed from female backup dancers towards male dancers, taught burlesque classes for women fans. Dita didn’t stick to her original plans and habits, she saw her audience change and changed alongside her fans.
  6. Learn quick and learn from the best, and if necessary do it yourself. Dita didn’t know how to dance burlesque, so she watched old films and tried new moves; she observed which attracted her audiences and kept the good and eliminated the bad. She didn’t go to cosmetology school, she tested her makeup and hair skills on herself, through trial and error. Von Teese still dyes her natural blonde hair jet black with drugstore hair dye, she doesn’t trust anyone else to do it her way. The few makeup artists she did like, she learned the tricks of the trade from and incorporated into her act.7
  7. Seek an international market.  She famous worldwide, from Europe to Asia and Latin America. Dita didn’t stay stateside, she went where they demanded her skills. Von Teese learned from Crazy Horse dancers on dancing and makeup and she gained many international fans from her French appearances. It was important she grows fans all over the planet: it still is a small market in which she works, she needed to maximize her time and efforts
  8. Dita’s name and brand mean high quality. She doesn’t dance with sweatpants and a T-shirt on, she may go near naked in her act, but her stage scenery and costumes are costly and detailed, she expects a high standard from herself and her shows. Von Teese’s clothing and makeup lines appear expensive and are well crafted. Her name means quality, from every aspect of her brand, she is classy and refined.
  9. Take care of yourself.  Von Teese is not a vegan. She eats a restrictive and organic diet plan with small cheats. Dita protects her skin from the sun, with sunblock, sleeps well, and makes sure her skin care regimen is simple but planned and attended. Her face and body are her career, she must care for her looks and health.

It isn’t an easy road to success but she has with love and style crafted an amazing life.