Tell me something about yourself and your work. What do you actually do, and have done in the past?
My main line of work is fashion design. Interesting thing is that even though I have sewn my whole life I never dreamed of making it my career. I went to school for accounting and my plan was to work in corporate world after my son would be old enough to go to childcare. My husband saw that my passion was in designing.
After I would put my son to sleep and even though I was exhausted I would go straight to my sewing machine or sketchbook. My heart has always been into sewing and design. So my husband encouraged me to make a few gowns for people as a hobby. I did. And somehow a year later it gradually went from occasional hobby to full-time job and kept growing ever since. All other stuff, like fashion shows, fashion shoot styling, TV show that I produce and host, pageant judging, teaching, design consulting all that happens because of fashion design and my love for everything creative.
Photo by Georgina Vaughan
You are a pageant queen, fashion designer, business owner and a TV Show host. What are you the most proud of? Is there something you did not accomplished in your life?
I am mostly proud of the fact that I followed my heart and was able to become who I am on my own. I didn't have start-up capital or even degree in fashion and a lot of people were doubting me. I came to this country by myself, without money, relatives and friends. It was a rough road, just like most first generation immigrants face. But I always knew that if I don't stop, don't distract myself with negative people and just keep going I will be able to get to where I want to get to. And that's the advice I want to give to everyone reading this: if you are passionate about something don't distract yourself with negativity, nay-sayers , and don't pay attention what others think about your ideas. Only you know what is right for you and only you can make your dreams become a reality.
We’ve all seen the stereotypical portrayals of pageant contestants, a la Miss Congeniality, spreading peace, love and beauty throughout the world. How do you think you'll make a difference ?
Leading by example is one of the best ways to have an impact. I want to share my favorite moment about being a titleholder. It still melts my heart thinking about it and so far no other titleholder event was able to top that for me. I think that day I really felt that I was making a difference. It may have been on a small scale, but it was real and it was happening in my local community. A friend of mine organizes holiday parties in a special medical facility. It's a nursing home that has senior residents with special needs and also residents who don't have relatives to take care of them. So I wanted to join their Christmas party and help people who would otherwise be forgotten have a few hours of fun and laughter. I posted on my social media that there is this event on Christmas Day with time and location. And a lot of people showed up, people who might have had other plans for Christmas Day showed up to help others have fun time. And one family came up to me thanking for the post, they said they follow me on social media and when they saw my post they wanted to come with their kids to help us. I was so touched. That day I had an amazing feeling that being a titleholder is a big responsibility and if we all make little steps each day our world will be a better place.
What would you advise any younggirl out there who has a dream of being a queen one day?
I always say that if you have a passion for something , find a way to make it happen. If you love beauty pageants, so your research what it really means to be a titleholder. Then figure out a plan to get there. A dream is a great starting point, but you must also have a plan of action to make it a reality.