Meet Ava and Sophia Paley; sisters, dancers, and successful entrepreneurs! Ava, 14 years old, and Sophia, 12 years old, are the proud founders of Donate 2 Dance, an organization that donates gently used dance costumes and shoes to dancers who can’t afford these items themselves. As dancers at SHUFFLES NYC, the sisters are talented tap dancers who have performed all types of dance ranging from jazz to hip hop. With more than 10 years of dance experience comes a lot of costumes and shoes. This realization the sisters had while cleaning out their closets served as their inspiration for Donate 2 Dance.
“We had overstuffed closets with dance shoes and costumes in our house,” the sisters shared. We wanted to put them to good use and we wanted to give back to the community in some way, so we started to send out our costumes and shoes to different organizations. Then our passion project really grew from there.” Donate 2 Dance currently has 8 collection bins throughout New York, New Jersey, and Long Island. They currently have donated over 1,000 shoes, 650costumes, and partnered with 36 dance studios.
The young women have learned many important lessons along their entrepreneurial journey, especially regarding the financial planning it takes to run a company. Sophia explained, “Raising money has been one of our biggest needs. We’ve had multiple bake sales and even started a GoFundMe to raise money to help with the cost of purchasing large boxes to ship all of the shoes and costumes that are donated.” Their fundraising efforts have been quite successful so far, which has allowed them to continue to expand their organization and place more donation bins in various locations.
Ava and Sophia’s plans for Donate 2 Dance in the future include adding more donation bins and partnering with more dance studios. Sophia mentioned, “Our hope is to have donation bins in every U.S. state.” Ava added, “The state we would want to expand to next is California. They have a lot of hip hoppers and tappers in California. It’s just a big state for dance!” In regards to other future goals, both young women plan to continue on an entrepreneurial path. Sophia mentioned how she wants to open a dance studio with Ava where they teach all types of dance. Ava shares this dream, but she would also like to work with children who have special needs and teach them how to dance. She continued, “There’s an organization called Dancing Dreams where people volunteer to help instruct the students on proper form and technique. They stand behind them and guide them through different dances. I would love to volunteer there!”
The young women say that the most rewarding part of running Donate 2 Dance is hearing from the dancers who received their shoes and costumes. One of their most moving thank yous yet came from a dance studio called Ayita Wheelchair Dance. Ava and Sophia commented, “It felt good to see how much they really liked the shoes we were able to donate. It was actually very emotional.” The young women said it’s these types of stories that make all of their hard work worthwhile. Two of the biggest role models in the young women’s lives are their parents. Ava and Sophia went on to say, “They both work very hard and helped us start the organization. We see how much passion they have and how hardworking they are and it pushes us to strive to do our best.”
The young women are excited for the future and are ready to continue toward their goal of helping every dancer have the chance to dance.
Contributor: Ally Massimi