The world of pageantry may not be what you think it is. Yes, it’s hair, makeup, gowns and beautiful women. But it’s also a business. The economic impact of pageants in the Miss USA System at all levels in the state is quite impressive. As the current Miss Melbourne USA, I have been privileged to experience this personally, since it has been my second job for the past six months. From corporate sponsorships to involvement in nonprofit organizations, I can attest that it is a win-win for the pageant industry and the business community.
Miss Florida USA, taking place on July 16 at the Parker Playhouse in Fort Lauderdale will feature 68 contestants from around the state.
This pageant is projected to bring $1 million into the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood area. When you take into account travel, hotels, restaurants and other spending by contestants and their families it adds up quickly.
“Beauty pageants continue to be popular with the public and provide great media exposure for the cities that host them. There’s no better place to have one than in a beach chic tropical paradise such as Fort Lauderdale and we look forward to the positive recognition of hosting the show and its delegates,” said Jessica Savage of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The pageant itself will be televised by the Fox Network.
From the Miss Florida (Miss America) to the Miss Florida Teen USA all the way to the Florida Strawberry Festival queen, the state is home to literally hundreds of beauty pageants every year. Miss Florida was recently held for the first time in Lakeland and Polk County representatives estimated the economic impact to be $1.65 million.
While we have been looking at the dollars generated within the state, there also is a huge investment of time and money for the contestants themselves.
For starters, let’s look at retail. The cost of a gown ranges from $2,000 to $5,000. Two popular boutiques specializing in pageant gowns are La Casa Hermosa in Wellington and Regalia Magnificent Apparel in Orlando.
“It’s not just Florida…We get clients from all over the world, more of an international retailer, for example we sponsor the Miss Slovak Republic pageant, as well,” said Iva Ivanova, owner of La Casa Hermosa. “Contestants can spend from $500 up to $8,000 for one gown.”
In addition to evening gowns, contestants also must purchase multiple swimsuits for preliminaries, media days and the state pageant. Prices can generally range from $100 to $300. Also in the retail area there are shoes and accessories. And we can’t forget hair and makeup throughout the contestants’ reign.
Sponsorships is the code word for “big business” in the pageant world. In order to compete at the state level, each title holder must raise a minimum of $1,350 in sponsorships. This can take many forms from a donation to the young women, financially and/or providing goods and services. These sponsors are featured in program advertisements, clothing can be worn on media days and testimonials for services, such as personal trainers; these are only a few examples.
And while we have been looking at the business side of the pageant world, I would be remiss to not share some of my personal experiences.
Community, passion, networking and self-empowerment. These are the words I think of when I hear pageant. Judges aren’t looking for cookie-cutter women, but rather confidence, poise and passion. Through my training, coaching and mentoring, I’ve learned what the world of pageantry is all about. It’s not about the glamor or the crown or even holding the title, but giving back, making changes and having an impact in your community. As a little girl, I pretended to fly to far off places and help those in need. Through my pageant experiences, I learned I can be that change.
In many pageants, contestants select “platforms” or issues they wish to promote.
I developed an environmental awareness campaign, “The Backyard Project,” to educate our youth on the importance of being kind to our environment in order to preserve the beauty of our backyard, Florida. I challenge my community by asking “what can you do in your own backyard to make a difference?” My backyard was Fort Lauderdale Beach.
I have been involved in multiple beach cleanups, turtle nesting events and even got PADI scuba certified to participate in dive cleanups. We all come from somewhere beautiful and unique. With my title and through sponsorships, I will be able to launch The Backyard Project and bring light to environmental issues in Florida.
When it comes to beauty pageants, there is more than one winner.