Archive for April 2014

This Big Winner is a Big Loser- 75 lbs!

April 30th, 2014 — 10:29am

I lost over 75 lbs as I prepared to compete for Miss Massachusetts USA. Competing in the pageant served as a motivational tool for me to kick things into gear. I tried everything from various programs, diet fads and quick fix schemes. Nothing worked until I buckled down and simply began eating a lean and green diet. I decided to change my lifestyle and no longer be a slave to diets and food. I realized that food is fuel for my body. I would also strength train and began running 5k’s as motivation to stay fit. I never intended to lose over 75 lbs, however when I stopped focusing on the number and began learning about what to eat it all happened naturally. The best part of my journey was pageant weekend when I was able to see all of my hard work pay off as I was recently crowned Miss JR Orange Bowl USA. I continue to learn new receipts and workouts everyday, my journey has not ended but I have certainly come a long way.

Miss Florida USA here I come!

– Luisa Alvarez

Her sight is set on the Miss FL USA crown!

Her sight is set on the Miss FL USA crown!

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Taking a Risk Is a Beautiful Thing

April 29th, 2014 — 7:10am

Carolyn Never Accepts Defeat

Carolyn Never Accepts Defeat

Hello everyone! My name is Carolyn Aikman. I became acquainted with Sashes & Crowns last year when I started my journey of preparing for my first pageant, Miss California USA. I didn’t grow up doing pageants and had absolutely no idea what prepping for one would entail. I was a girl without a goal but no plan. Insert Tara and Cristina! They took my uncoordinated, no pageant experience self and made me believe that I had all the tools necessary to be the next Miss CA USA. From the moment I stepped into orientation to the minute I took my sash off when I was through competing, I felt prepared. No, I didn’t win, but the experience and who I became in the process was a greater accomplishment than receiving a crown.  Through several months of mock interviews, wardrobe selection and walking lessons; I became more and more confident in who am I and what I stand for. I give them both so much credit for not only having patience with me, but in making me the best version of myself.  Upon returning home from Miss CA, I chose not to feel defeated. I know I have the tools and knowledge to be a great title holder, my time will come. I competed in my second pageant this past weekend and felt just as calm and prepared, if not more so. The crowd also had a few less thousand people, which may have played a small part!
I know I can take the tools I have learned in my pageant prep and apply them to other areas of life as well.  I now have the ability to quickly and confidently answer a question about any topic – I am one hundred percent certain I will ace any job interview in the future!! Throughout this process I also learned what an amazing support system your fellow pageants sister and girlfriends can be.  Making new friends who share my same interests and have common goals is the greatest things any girl can take away from competing.  Overall, pageants have left me feeling confident, driven and inspired. Sashes & Crowns was such a great spring board into competing and I know they will be a great source of continued guidance.
Most recently, I took a page out of their book and started my own business as well! My great friend Jordyn and I recently launched Innovation Media Partners. Our company specializes in small business social media management.  Small business owners are busy with day to day operations and their social media presence often becomes neglected . We understand that you are busy, so we have created a company that will take care of your social media needs for you!
Get more info and check out our packages here –

Follow Her New Business on Twitter

Follow Carolyn on twitter! @innovationmp


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Ambition & Confidence = True Beauty

April 22nd, 2014 — 10:27am

For Zoey, its about more than just pretty dresses.

For Zoey, its about more than just pretty dresses.

My name is Zoey and I just wanted to take a moment to share why I partake in pageantry. You see, it’s not just about the perfect dress, the perfect hair, or the perfect makeup. To me, it’s about the perfect personality. When you walk into a pageant, you want to walk in like you’ve already won it all. Because, really, you have. With pageantry, you’re walking into something that can unknowingly change your life! Now I’m not saying you should be arrogant and greedy throughout the competition, the girl that trips over fellow contestants when nobody’s watching-absolutely not; but you also don’t want to be the shy little girl hiding in the corner. You want to be the overachiever-the girl who’s there to have fun, and the girl who’s there to compete with fairness and loyalty. You want to stand out in your own unique way-make a lasting impression! Even if you don’t wind up with the sparkly crown or the title, you can still walk away with a multitude of friends and connections-you can meet your best friend, an agent, a coach! You can create lifelong relationships that can lead to remarkable things! You could be a world-renowned entertainer for all you know! It all depends on how you present yourself throughout the pageant. I am so proud to say that ever since I’ve met the fabulous Cristina and Tara at Sashes and Crowns, I’ve walked out of every event all smiles-with pride and dignity. And I think once you’ve achieved that, once you get past the self-doubt and all of the things holding you back, you can’t even begin to imagine the abiding possibilities. And that, the girl of ambitions and confidence, is my meaning of true beauty and why I love pageants!

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April 17th, 2014 — 10:43am

One Hit Wonder, Emmy Places Top 10 in Her First Pageant!

One Hit Wonder, Emmy Places Top 10 in Her First Pageant!

It’s Never too Late to become a Beauty Queen

by Emmy Adams

Late last summer I decided I wanted to compete in the Miss NV USA 2014 competition. It was always a dream of mine to be in a beauty pageant.  I worked very hard in school and I was often busy with extra-curricular activities growing up, so I never thought I could find the time to actually go through the whole process. Having never competed before, I did not think I would have a good chance in the competition. I was so lucky to have Cristina and Tara as my coaches along the way. Last semester I was studying abroad in Italy, which made things a little more overwhelming for me because I was so motivated to do well in the upcoming pageant as well as adventuring off to new cities every weekend. While traveling through 9 different countries I managed to do most of all my training over Skype with Tara and Crisitna. They taught me so many great things from beauty tips to interview questions that I know I can use in almost my everyday life. Once I returned from Italy back to Las Vegas, there were only two weeks left up until the pageant!
I have never devoted so much time and effort into something that I truly loved doing.  During the whole weekend I felt that Cristina and Tara prepared me so well for this pageant that I wasn’t even nervous at all.  Every time I was on that stage and I kept hearing my title being called my heart would just drop I was so excited. I ended up making Top 10 overall and I couldn’t have been more thrilled for competing in my first beauty pageant at 21 years old.  I learned so much and now I feel that competing has made me a better person on the inside and out. There are so many wonderful things you can take away from competing. I encourage all women to compete even if they never have before because you never know what will happen and even if you do not win it is still an amazing experience!

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What pageants really taught me…other than how to do my hair and makeup

April 8th, 2014 — 2:58pm

Mary Margaret placed 1st runner up at Miss USA

Mary Margaret placed 1st runner up at Miss USA

I can honestly say that once you experience winning a state title and competing at Miss USA, your whole view of pageantry changes. As pageant girls, we talk about how we “want to change the stereotype about pageants and pageant girls.” Little do we realize that we also give pageants our own stereotype and put our own expectations on what it would feel like to win the crown. I will admit I have been a culprit of this.
I remember hearing about Miss Alabama USA and saying “I want to do that” and signing up the next day. I thought that winning a state title was going to give me the opportunity to experience life differently – to have a more glamorous life, to be a role model to others , to get to travel all over the country, etc. These are the stereotypes that most pageant girls naturally have about winning the title. While all of these expectations can happen, what I didn’t expect were the “real” things that I would get out of winning Miss Alabama USA and competing in Miss USA. To me, these “real” things are the most important and crucial part of my experience.
The first thing I realized as Miss Alabama USA, was how important “networking” really is. Within the first few weeks of winning the title, I wanted to call my Business 101 Professor and tell him that he was right – networking is HUGE and it is something that everyone needs to take advantage of. You always hear people saying, “It’s not what you do, it’s who you know.” Well yes, you need to work hard and do everything possible, but most of the time, knowing someone can be the key. Throughout my reign, I built relationships with my directors, leaders around the state, my judges, the media, designers, make-up /hair artists, and anyone I came into contact with. Well guess what? When it came time for me to interview for my dream job, these were the people that willingly took time out of their day to write my recommendation letters. Not once during those three years that I painstakingly went to the gym and worked to perfect my stage walk did I think that I would be winning relationships. I was preoccupied thinking about how it would feel to be able to say “I am Miss Alabama USA.” And yes, I will admit it was cool to be able to say that, but I could only say it for a year – I will have these relationships the rest of my life.
While this next thing may sound boring and stupid, it might be the most imperative thing I learned. Pageantry truly taught me invaluable professional skills (maybe with a little help from Will the Pageant Guy). After Miss USA, I went home to finish my Master’s degree and two months later I was looking for my first “big girl” job. I enjoyed doing pageants, but the entertainment and modeling world wasn’t something I wanted to do in the long run. I wanted to build a career in business and sales.  Going through interviews was a breeze thanks to the many interviews and public speaking events I had to go to as Miss Alabama USA. I was able to hone those skills and put them to good use to get my current job as a surgical device sales rep. During the interview process for my job, the recruiter I worked with told me that she wished some of her candidates with 5 years of experience were as advanced and had the maturity that I did. Well I can chalk all of that “maturity” up to the fact that I had to keep my cool as I talked to Donald Trump on stage at Miss USA. All joking aside, I used my experience as Miss Alabama USA to land me a career of a lifetime by showing the interviewer the “real” skills that I learned throughout my reign. I mean, who knew that knowing how to walk across the stage in a swimsuit and tease my hair wouldn’t be enough to land me an awesome job?
The final and most vital thing I learned throughout my journey as Miss Alabama USA was what I wanted out of life. I think a lot of girls going through this experience get distracted by the endless possibilities that a title can bring you. After Miss USA, I was at a point in my life where I had to make a decision about what I wanted to do next. Should I start a modeling career? Should I go into entertainment instead of going into business/sales? There were so many questions in my mind that I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. The problem was that I was thinking about what I was “supposed” to do, not what I actually wanted to do. This is where our expectations of pageants get out of hand. Once we do something as big as competing on a national stage, it’s hard to go back to life before the crown. We get lost thinking about “what ifs” instead of truly thinking what will make us happy in the long run. I realized that if I wasn’t around the people that loved me then I wouldn’t be happy. As simple as it sounds, it was by far the hardest thing I had to learn because it is so easy to be side-tracked by the glamour of a title. The one quote that helped me understand this came from one of my favorite childhood movies, Cool Runnings: “A gold medal is a great thing, but if you’re never enough without it, you’ll never be enough with it.” The same thing applies to a crown. I had to take my crown off to truly understand what was important to me in life; that thing can be so darn shiny it blinds you. Being on both sides of the crown ultimately taught me what I valued most and that was the best gift I could ever get from being Miss Alabama USA.
So to all the pageant girls out there, whether you’ve won a title or not, take advantage of all the skills, opportunities, and life lessons that pageantry can teach you. Try not to get caught up in the stereotype that we put on winning a title and instead, find the “real” things out of the experience; the things that will last a lifetime instead of a year.
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals” – Henry David Thoreau
I couldn’t make you read this entire blog and not give you some of the handy beauty tricks I did learn, so here are my top 5:

  1. Use a spoon behind your eyelashes when you are applying mascara. It will help you from getting mascara on your eyelid but will also help blend your false eyelashes and real ones together.
  1. Fill in your eyebrows every day. You will thank me later.
  1. Band Aid makes this thing called Friction Block – buy it asap. Rub it on your feet where you normally get blisters from wearing heels. This stuff will change your life.
  1. Never sleep in a ponytail. I just found out that it can make you bald and it is currently haunting me.
  1. Instead of buying expensive whitening strips, put peroxide on a Q-tip, rub it on your teeth and leave it while you do your makeup. Your teeth will be whiter in no time. This might sound weird but all whitening treatments are made of peroxide anyway!

-Mary Margaret McCord, Miss Alabama USA 2013

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