Money Mindset in Pageantry
By Laura Ashley Cliff, MA, MHC
How to Plan for Financial Success as a Pageant Contestant
It’s no secret that committing to a pageant is a giant financial undertaking. No matter what system you’re competing in, the desire to want to succeed and stand out almost always aligns with the assumption that you have to spend a significant amount of money in order to win.
However, the reality is, just as money can’t buy you happiness, it also can’t buy you a crown. Compromising your financial stability in order to win will only lead you to feeling out of control, not able to show up as your best self and will result in a hit to your self esteem, if your desired outcome isn’t achieved.
Is it really necessary to purchase a brand new designer gown in order to win a pageant? The answer is a loud astounding, NO! Consider Olivia Culpo. Before she won Miss Universe, and before she was Miss USA, Olivia Culpo was Miss Rhode Island USA 2012; a title she won in a gown she secured from Rent The Runway for $100. Olivia proved that the dress, or at least how much you spend on the dress, does not equate to the success you experience in a pageant.
Websites like Poshmark, Queenly, and Mercari are also helpful in selecting a gorgeous gown on a budget! Once you find the dress you want, shop around and see if there is a gown that is available at a lower cost. Most often, we only wear our evening gowns for a couple of hours, purchasing a pre-worn gown allows you the opportunity to wear a like-new dress at a fraction of the cost.
Sponsorship and Fundraising
Fundraising can be a way to release the financial pressures of competing. Many local businesses want to see their community succeed, so choose local businesses that match your values, align with your platform, and ask if they’re willing to contribute to your success. You can offer them social media or on-site promotions and include them on your sponsorship page.
When writing sponsorship letters, you can even create levels of sponsorship, so that the potential sponsors know exactly what they will be receiving for their donation. Added bonus for them > it’s a "marketing" tax write off! In addition to financial sponsorship, you can also ask for sponsorship for wardrobe, services, travel, headshots, and so much more, in order to offset the cost of competing.
Local politicians are also a really great resource for you! After an election season, politicians sometimes have left over funds that they can re-distribute to their community. Again, this is a tax write off for them!
For you, it’s a good feeling to know that your community's fundraising efforts are contributing to your success. You can publicly thank each contribution to acknowledge the support of your elected officials.
Another idea > who doesn’t love a good fundraising party? Ask local restaurants or bars if they would be willing to sponsor you by hosting a small gathering with appetizers or desserts for a few hours. Once you have the space, you can then reach out to local businesses, artists, services, and more to ask if they can contribute a donation of goods to be raffled at your event. Sometimes businesses also have built-in fundraising models, such as sharing a percentage of sales to you, when you advertise the event and bring business into their location. Don't forget to include these locations and donors during your recognition of support on a program book ad page and via social media.
With all the added costs of competing, being able to alleviate stress throughout your preparation allows you to feel more confident going into the competition. The amount of money you spend to compete does not guarantee the outcome! Getting creative about the resources needed in order to compete successfully will only guarantee that you walk away from the competition feeling blessed and not stressed.