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Business Observer Thursday, Sep. 16, 2021 2 months ago

Marketing executive launches app for reselling dance costumes

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With the new app, the entrepreneurial dancer hopes to save performers a little bit of money.
by: Amanda Postma Sarasota-Manatee Editor

As someone who grew up dancing, Margeaux McCarthy knows how expensive the sport can end up costing. Especially the elaborate costumes. 

Now, thanks to McCarthy — who doubles as a commercial real estate marketing executive  — there’s an app for that.

McCarthy launched the free app, called Dance Xchange, in January. It provides a platform for dancers, or anyone with dance items, to sell or purchase those expensive items. The LLC is registered in Punta Gorda, Charlotte County, where McCarthy has worked in commercial real estate. “This app gives them the opportunity to post and put that money toward the next costume,” McCarthy says. 

McCarthy grew up dancing, eventually becoming a professional dancer. Now, she teaches dance classes. From her own experience as a dancer and now as a teacher of dancers, she’s ready to change how expensive it is. McCarthy says an average dancer can spend anywhere from $500 to $1,000 in one season on costumes for them to only wear it two or three times. Some dancers spend even more depending on how elaborate they want the costume. On average, McCarthy says costumes cost $200-$300 a piece. 

'Being surrounded by the kids and those costumes, I thought somebody else is going to do it if I don’t.'

Growing up, McCarthy says her mom was a thrifter. From there, combined with her dance experience that allowed her to see the gap in the marketplace, McCarthy's own love for resale and consignment grew into this app.  

The idea came to her in August 2018. In October of that year, she began working with a developer. She outsourced this part of the process to a person living in India. “We have a great business relationship,” she says. 

Together, they designed the app. From the color scheme to adding new features, it was a lot of trial and error, McCarthy says. The app’s current features include: 

  • Internal peer-to-peer messaging system
  • Stripe, a secure integrated payment platform
  • A username and product search system designed to make searching convenient
  • Detailed filters and categories
  • Users are able to favorite items and follow sellers
  • No pop-up ads 

One of the recent new added features was was a “slider” located at the top of the app. The slider is intended to promote dance-related businesses while earning McCarthy a bit of extra money. It’s essentially an advertisement that will take guests to the business’ website, but McCarthy is reserving it only for businesses related to the dance world. It's the only ad space located in the app, as McCarthy recently removed the Google pop-up ads.

The revenue that comes from that new feature plays a minor part in Dance Xchange's business model. The majority of the app’s revenue stems from the products sold: McCarthy takes 20% of the profit for every product sold. 

She’s passionate about dance with quite a bit of marketing experience, which helped a lot in setting up her business model and allowed her to pay for the app's creation out of pocket. McCarthy was the marketing director for Maxim Commercial Real Estate LLC in Punta Gorda for two years before becoming the marketing director and commercial real estate sales advisor for SVN Lotus in Sarasota. 

Additionally, McCarthy teaches hip hop classes as an instructor and choreographer at Florida Dance Workshop in Punta Gorda. This experience is what truly led to the app being created. 

“Being surrounded by the kids and those costumes, I thought somebody else is going to do it if I don’t,” she says. 

The Dance Xchange app has been downloaded 403 times, with 125 of those downloads coming from the past month alone. “It’s a Poshmark for dance,” she says. 

The app gained traction with followers from McCarthy's personal page as well as her connections with dance moms. To increase this following, McCarthy is looking into collaborations with dance influencers to post stories on a biweekly basis. 

She’s also begun reaching out to local dance programs to have a featured advertisement at the programs. Those cost McCarthy anywhere from $25 to $100 per ad. While this doesn’t play a significant role in gaining followers, McCarthy did say she gained about 50 subscribers from three programs. 

McCarthy's current goal with the app is attracting more sellers. Right now, there are more subscribers looking for resale dance items than there are people to sell those items. This is her biggest challenge. “The biggest thing is to get people on here to sell,” she says. 

Another challenge is a common one for startups: capital. She uses the money from her commercial real estate career to pay the bills, and funds the app from dance teaching gigs. So far, she's spent $25,000 out of pocket for the iOS app and pre-payment for the upcoming desktop version.

The app and McCarthy's dance-based ideas are constantly on the move. McCarthy, for example, is working on a website version of the app to extend the services offered. She expects that to be ready to go in about three months. Currently, the dancexchangeapp.com site is only used as a landing page. 

McCarthy is also developing a 501(3)(c) for dancers to apply for a scholarship. This year, McCarthy was able to sponsor a local dancer to compete a solo for the season, which included the dance choreography. The $500 package also extended a modeling contract with Dance Xchange.

By creating a scholarship, McCarthy hopes to sponsor more dancers in the future.  “One thing I wanted to do,” she says, “was give back.” 

 

 

The story has been updated to reflect McCarthy's last name. 

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