Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Winning on a Budget: Fun Fashion

Juliana’s recent post on How To Win Fun Fashion was right on point! Doing something different is the real key. Lucky for us, that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank.

At my state competition, I borrowed a Sherri Hill dress that retails for more than someone would pay “on a budget,” so once again I lucked out on that one!

For Nationals, I wanted something a little more “special,” but once I had the idea in my head, nothing else would do! I couldn’t find anything that matched what I was picturing, so I enlisted the help of my mom. I designed the outfit, and she tweaked it and actually made the entire thing for me – mostly by hand! MANY hours went into this outfit – thankfully it was the National Fun Fashion Winner!!

My advice is not necessarily to make your own fun fashion outfit to save money, but putting your own spin on an existing outfit is a great way to ensure that no one else will have what you have, and you will stand out!

Find a cocktail dress that you LOVE (and would wear again for an appearance) & add a fun skirt to it. Or find some trendy sequin shorts (I’m sure you can find some inexpensive ones on eBay) & pair it with an interesting top & some FABULOUS shoes! Accessories can also play a big part in this, but that is for another post!

I loved the idea of having something to “play” with while on stage, which is why I wanted a detachable skirt. I thought it gave me that element of surprise, and something interesting to look at while I was modeling.

So really you can just add a colorful piece of fabric to your existing outfit to kick it up a notch & make it perfect for the stage! Mostly make sure that you feel sassy & confident in your fun fashion outfit. No one will know how much you paid for it, but wear it like you’re worth a million bucks!!

Ashley Smith

Monday, March 28, 2011

DC International Pageants Workshop

To help prepare for the Miss and Miss Teen DC International 2011 pageants, held last weekend, I assisted with a workshop for the contestants. My job was to demonstrate stage makeup and to do the makeup prior to their photo shoots later that day. The event was hosted in the facility of a Georgetown boutique, which made it even more fun for all of us!!

I answered the contestant’s many questions about the International System. I also spoke to them about competing for the DC International Title (I was Miss Teen DC International 2009). It was great to see Rita, my former Director. She is always so kind and welcoming to me and my family (she calls my mother “Mom Jules”). She has a special part for both and my sister queen Ashley Smith and I at this year’s pageant- we cannot wait!!!

Chelsey Rogers (Miss DC International 2010 as well as Top Ten finalist at Nationals) and Alexis Harvey (Miss Teen DC International 2010) were both also helping at the event. I love seeing them. Alexis is so sweet and has some a compelling story of homelessness in her youth and overcoming much adversity to become the strong young woman and role model that she is today. Chelsea is incredible! She is beautiful, fabulous and has a personality larger than life. She also is an accomplished lawyer with her own practice- wow!

I feel blessed to have been introduced and to continue to work with such wonderful people as the DC International queens and Director, Rita Sinha. Rita is also very accomplished and will be graduating with her law degree from The George Washington University this May. She specializes in Patent and Intellectual Property law and speaks Japanese and Hindi! She is so supportive and encouraged me to follow my dreams and to compete again for Miss Teen International- I will be eternally grateful to her for her belief in me.

Juliana McKee

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pageant Tips for Nationals #4: How to Win Fun Fashion

When I competed for the first time at Nationals as Miss Teen DC International, I won fun fashion. There was actually a tie and two winners that year, myself and Megan McNab (Miss Teen Alabama International 2009).

So I have been asked by many of you, “What wins fun fashion?” Truly, I believe you must stand out and be different. You should also make sure that the fun fashion you choose highlights your individual style and personality. Make sure that your fun fashion is age appropriate, especially if you are a teen.

You don’t necessarily have to break the bank either on fun fashion. My sister queen, Ashley Smith, designed her own fun fashion and her mother made it for her! She won fun fashion in the Miss category and she did it all for a couple hundred of dollars!! She had the element of surprise with her fun fashion with a detachable skirt!

Remember it is fun fashion, so use accessories to add flare. My mom really wanted to add something to mine to make it stand out more last year at Nationals, so she ran across the street the afternoon before preliminaries and bought a feather and sequined fuchsia headpiece. It helped to set me apart and I noticed finals night, others had taken note and added a headpiece as well to accessorize.

Don’t forget the personality part when you go on stage. Fun fashion is about having fun and being happy- so make sure you show that you are fun on stage!!

Juliana McKee

Friday, March 25, 2011

NCFA Rings Opening Bell for The NASDAQ Stock Exchange

NCFA Rings Opening Bell for The NASDAQ Stock Exchange

A huge thanks to NASDAQ OMX for inviting NCFA to ring the opening bell and for helping us continue our mission to find loving and permanent homes for waiting children around the world who desire to have a loving, permanent family! Raising awareness is the key!

National Council For Adoption Video from opening bell ceremony at The NASDAQ Stock Market! http://mktvideo.nasdaq.com/MarketSiteOpenCloseVideos/201103/mo_032211.wmv

Learn more about adoption by visiting http://www.adoptioncouncil.org/

Shannon Devine

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Mrs. International - 25 Most Stylish People in the Queen City!


Mrs. International, Shannon Devine, has been named among the
 25 Most Stylish People in the Queen City.

On Saturday, April 9th, The American Heart Association’s Go Red For Women campaign, will feature the 25 Most Stylish People at Mercedes-Benz of South Charlotte The event will feature six runway shows, a Mercedes-Benz automobile show and the Grand Finale, the Celebrity Go Red For Women Show. The Red Carpet entrance opens at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 8 p.m. The show will benefit the National Go Red For Women Campaign, a movement that helps women recognize the #1 health killer, heart disease.

You’re invited to attend! Please join us on April 9th. Show your support for our Stylish Mrs. International and join the movement to save lives. Make it your mission to fight the #1 killer!

To learn more about Go Red for Women, visit www.GoRedForWomen.org

Shannon Devine

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Miss Teen, Miss, & Mrs Texas International 2011

Over March 12th weekend, I went back to San Antonio, Texas to give up my crown to the next Miss Texas International. The contestants had a wonderful weekend full of gifts, visiting Morgan’s Wonderland, dinners, rehearsals, & a fabulous final production put on by the Director of the Year, Kristin Koether.

As I said before, I was so lucky this past year to have wonderful sister queens, Sydney & Natalie. I knew spending time with them again would be the highlight of my weekend, & I was right!! And – major bonus - the distinguished panel of judges included our very own Mrs. International 2010, Shannon Devine! The 4 of us plus our families got to spend lots of time together catching up!

There were so many wonderful contestants, and any one of them could have taken home the crown & represented Texas well! The three ladies who ended up with the distinguished titles were: Mrs. Texas International, Angelique Hoover, Miss Texas International, Kelli Ansley, and Miss Teen Texas International, Lora Chowdhury. I am so proud of all of them!!

Ashley Smith

Friday, March 18, 2011

Winning on a Budget: Evening Gown

When competing for Miss Teen International or Miss International, the evening gown score is 20% of your total. For Mrs. International, evening gown is 25% of your total – needless to say, it’s important! One thing to keep in mind, is while every girl may wish she had a $5000 evening gown, what really makes the difference is how you WORK that evening gown on stage. If you are confident and feel beautiful, that will show through and you will get high marks in the evening gown competition.

That being said, I also believe it is important to have a high quality evening gown in order to feel beautiful and be the most confident. If you can afford it (or if you can raise enough money through sponsors) an evening gown is a great thing to spend that money on! But if not, that’s okay too. There are so many ways you can find a special evening gown if you are on a budget.

Juliana & I both have posted before about what to look for in the perfect evening gown. You need to keep in mind fit, style, and the fact that it needs to be age appropriate. My advice is to have something in mind before you start searching.

When you’re ready, there are a few places to try if you’re looking to stay within a certain budget. My favorite way is through Facebook. At my state pageant, I was able to borrow my entire competition wardrobe at NO CHARGE from a wonderful pageant friend with fabulous taste! We just did a little bartering (I loaned her some clothes too) I realize that doesn’t work for everyone, but really it doesn’t hurt to send out Facebook messages to girls whose wardrobe you admire & ask if you can rent/borrow/buy something from them. The worst they can do is say No! And if you are worried about borrowing something because it “has been seen before” – that should not be a consideration. I won every competition at my state pageant and the National pageant with a borrowed wardrobe – it’s about how you are on stage, not just about the clothes!

Another great way to save is to rent clothes or purchase previously worn dresses from girls you may not know! If you Google “pageant dress resale,” there are a bunch of great options that come up! My take on it is, there are so many fabulous gowns out there already, if you look hard enough you can find something you love at a great price!!

Last year, I found the perfect gown for Miss International on http://www.pageantresale.com/. The original price paid by the owner was about $5000. The gown was worn by a contestant from West Virginia in the Miss America pageant in 2009. I was able to see a video of the gown in action, which was great! I wasn’t able to pay the price she was asking for resale, so I emailed her and asked if she would be willing to rent it to me instead. “Ask & ye shall receive!” Even though this was the most I have EVER paid for a gown ($400), it was well worth it. Not only did she allow me to rent it, she sent it to me so I could try it on & be sure that it would work! I mailed it back so she could give up her crown in it, and then she mailed it right back to me. Aren’t pageant girls just the sweetest??

It was a little bit long & a little bit big in the waist, but with the help of my wonderful mom, those were both easy fixes that could be let back out when we sent the gown back.

To summarize, if I had the money to spend on a fabulous custom gown, I certainly would!! But if you don’t, that doesn’t mean it should cost you the crown. Do your research, and don’t be afraid to ask people for help – someone will say YES! Good luck & happy shopping!!

Ashley Smith

Monday, March 14, 2011

Recap: National Wear Red Day

American Heart Association’s Go Red Connect event at Macy’s in New York City

The month of February raced by…just like a healthy beating heart. I was honored and humbled to serve as the event emcee for National Wear Red Day in New York City! I want to especially thank the National sponsors Macy’s & Merck for sponsoring the GO RED events in NYC and congratulate the AHA Go Red staff who worked countless hours to ensure a fantastic event for all! Thank you Monica & Rosemary and the entire Go Red staff for allowing me to be a part of this amazing, life saving day…it was a first class event! I was inspired, moved to tears, and enjoyed every minute!

I saved this blog entry intentionally to keep “heart health” at the forefront and ask for your continued commitment every month of the year to remain dedicated to the cause. Raising awareness saves lives. Heart Disease remains the #1 killer, taking a woman’s life every minute! The good news… there’s hope! Each time I hear that statistic, it seems so unreal. After meeting and hearing each survivor share their stories on National Wear Red Day, I can assure you, heart disease is REAL!

Survivors: Lori Anne Parker, Katy Coffy, Pamela Coleman, Gail Mates, Linda Couch, Migdalia Rivera, Kay Lavelle and Jill Morin (mother and daughter).

Other memorable and exciting highlights of the day included, Merck fitness expert Andrea Metcalf. This lady is a powerhouse! She demonstrated simple exercises that women can easily fit into their daily routine.

Here are some key takeaways from Andrea’s presentation that are easy to remember.

* KNOW your numbers!!!
* Eat a healthy diet (1, 2, 3 when it comes to fruits & vegetables…starting with 1 at breakfast, 2 for lunch and so on…)
* Incorporate fish into your diet
* Exercise regularly
* Find ways to reduce stress (ouch, she truly stepped on my toes here…I’m a work in progress)
* And one of my favorites…If you’re on a conference call, walk around your home office during the hour long call vs. sitting at your desk. Such a great tip!

The most energizing (get up and make you want to dance) part of the day was the Zumba Jammers! These ladies were fantastic, entertaining, and inspiring as they demonstrated several heart-healthy Zumba dance routines!

Certified Zumba Instructors and Zumba Jammers! I call them SUPER- FANTASTIC!

Go Red VIP Event in Times Square. Thanks to the generous sponsors!

Heart Disease does not discriminate, it does not take your age into consideration, and even if your heart is made of gold (like my best friend, Brandi Hoffman) you could be at risk! Please take action today and tell 5 other women you want them to live! We don’t have minutes to spare.

Together we can STOP the #1 killer. Lead by example:

*REPRESENT…register for the movement http://www.goredforwomen.org/

*GO RED… wear the little red dress pin and show your support

*SHARE…your story, your experience, speak up nationwide for women's heart health

*VOLUNTEER…find your local affiliate

*CHANGE...Your lifestyle (leading by example)

*ADVOCATE...Be a voice!!! Tell 5 women today!

Ms. Julie A. Thank you for celebrating my birthday with me in the Big Apple! You continue to support my endeavors as Mrs. International, always making me look nice, and above all…being a TRUE friend.

I also want to thank Joey at the Competitive Image for graciously providing my fabulous red suit for the occasion. What in the world will I do without you after July? Your support and friendship mean so much. I have said it before and I will say it again…I am TRULY blessed!

March is National Nutrition Month!

What steps are you taking to eat a heart-healthy diet? Stay tuned…

Until next post, remain blessed!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Carolina International Pageants

If you’re in the Carolinas tonight, there’s a Pageant PARTY going on that you don’t want to miss!

I am SO proud to be a Carolina Girl! Even the song lyrics say, “the best in the world”.

Based on a prior commitment scheduled months ago, I am in the great state of Texas for the Texas International Pageants this weekend. The International Pageant System is truly a FAMILY AFFAIR, therefore, I feel right at home in San Antonio, Texas where I am being treated like royalty!

Because I cannot be in the Carolinas, I wanted to take a moment to express my gratitude to some amazing women who have focused their time and talents this past year on “service” to others.

Joy Pfister, the International Family is blessed to have you as one of our amazing directors. You're a mentor, cheerleader, and my forever friend. You love this system, it’s evident! Cynthia, I am INCREDIBLY proud of all that you have accomplished. You embraced this opportunity to serve others and you went above and beyond the call of duty. You have painted the Carolina Blue sky perfectly PURPLE many times this year .I have truly enjoyed our appearances together! Mrs. Shana, my dancing queen, you were one of my many "BLESSINGS" during the National competition in Chicago. You brought a smile to my face and calmed my spirit each night as we prepared to “Have a GOOD GOOD night”. If you read your farewell speech, make sure you ignore the words, "turn the page”! HA! One of my Top 10 favorite stories of all time! You are truly a bundle of fun and blessings! To the Teen & Miss Queens, you have inspired your peers and made a difference in the lives you've touched! I'm so proud to be a Carolina GIRL!!!!

GOOD LUCK to all of the contestants and have FUN!

Click here to meet the contestants and get more information about the pageant venue, tickets, etc. http://networkedblogs.com/fibWt

Shannon Devine

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lunch and Learn

This past week I was invited along with Mrs. Northeast International, Deanna Linz, to speak at the Chesapeake Candle Company’s “Lunch & Learn.”  The office provided a heart healthy lunch while the employees were educated on ways to make heart healthy decisions in their everyday lives! I was so glad to be a part of this event, & hearing Deanna’s story is always inspiring! Just another reminder that heart disease can effect anyone, so we all need to know our hearts!

Ashley Smith

Thursday, March 10, 2011

AHA's Heart Ball

The Greater Washington Region American Heart Association's Heart Ball, held at the Ritz Carlton of Tyson’s Corner, VA, included both a silent auction & a live auction with a great variety of unique items, which raised a total of $910,000 for the American Heart Association! What a great feat! The money will be used to support the AHA’s programs and initiatives as well as to research causes and cures of heart disease.

The evening included beautiful dresses and fine tuxedoes, philanthropists, television & radio personalities, media outlets, exceptional music, fabulous food, inspiring stories, volunteers, and AHA staff, all there for the cause.

As an intern for the AHA’s Communications & Marketing department, I shadowed Roxana, director of communications and marketing, throughout the evening. Roxana and I managed the media: reporters and photographers from newspapers like the Washington Post and from magazines such as The Hill, Capitol File Magazine, and Capitol Business.

The event was a hit and I feel so lucky to have had the chance to get some real-life experience interacting with media and press at a large-scale event!

Juliana McKee

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Texas International Pageants

This weekend I get to go home to Texas! Unfortunately it is to give up my title as Miss Texas International 2010. I must say though I am so excited for another girl to start this incredible experience! The pageant will be held in San Antonio again, so it will be so neat to be back where my whole International journey began. Thinking back I remember the way I felt the evening of orientation being so inspired by the way the Miss Teen, Miss, & Mrs. Texas told us all the accomplishments they had throughout their reigns. I sure hope I will have the same impact on this year’s contestants!

The weekend of my state pageant was also my first time meeting Erin Golden, Miss International 2009. I was so in awe of her fabulous crown!! (Little did I know I would be sporting that very same crown a short 4 months later!) I just know the girls will be thinking the same thing about mine – it is just so enchanting!

What I am most looking forward to about the weekend though is spending time with my sister queens & wonderful director. I was so sad that I had to move away from them in the middle of our year together, but they were all so understanding and supportive. I am so proud of what they have accomplished & can’t wait to tell them in person instead of just over the phone!

Good luck to all the contestants competing for their state titles this weekend – be yourself & the rest will fall into place!

Ashley Smith

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pageant Tips for Nationals #3 - The Perfect Evening Gown

Last year in the spring, my Mom and I were studying websites and pageantry magazines to find my perfect evening gown for competition. We had found it!!! (or so we thought…) The dress was a deep red gown that graced the back cover of Pageantry Magazine’s spring edition. Meanwhile, we were also travelling to Dothan for my headshots and took the picture with us to show Joey of the Competitive Image as we were going to order it from him.

Joey knew us, having worked with me the year before when I competed as Miss Teen DC International (making top ten) for both my gown and fun fashion (I won fun fashion in 2009). In 2009, we described the dress of my dreams to Joey- a beautiful blue lace and beaded mermaid style, with the bottom covered in feathers. Together, with Sherri Hill, Joey created the dress of my dreams- a custom Sherri Hill that to this day will always be my favorite. It was exactly as I had imagined it when it arrived to my home! I slipped it on and it fit like a glove- thank you Joey!!!

Well, when my mom and I arrived at Dothan last May, sure that the red satin gown was the one- Joey gently and very diplomatically disagreed. When we went to his shop to get the head shots, he took us to a back, special room, where he keeps his pageant competition gowns. We had missed the Sherri Hill trunk show the month earlier, but Joey had told Sherri Hill that I was coming and she sent some gowns for me to try that had not yet been seen by anyone. The first gown was white. My mom protested, telling Joey that, "Everyone wears white, red will stand out!” Joey protested back and said, “Just try it on.”

And so I did, and again, I fell in love instantly. It brought tears to my eyes and to my Mom’s as well. Joey, confidently said, “That is the one”….and he was right!! Joey is always right (that’s what my Mom always says). Even though my Mom made me try on every dress Joey had in my size, nothing held a candle to this one. There was one problem though, I really wanted a train on my gown. Not to worry, Joey made that happen as he noted the changes to the dress, took my exact measurements and called Sherri Hill’s office to place the order while we were there with him. If you want the perfect gown, I recommend that you work with Joey Rutherford of the Competitive Image. In the end, you will definitely be glad that you took the trip to get expert advice from one of the best pageant wardrobe consultants in the country!!

The end of the story is that indeed I won evening gown and my dream is to wear this very gown again when I give up my crown in July.

Juliana McKee

Monday, March 7, 2011

AHA Zumbathon

I finished out Heart Month by participating in a ZUMBATHON to benefit the American Heart Association (AHA)! It was a fantastic event and raised almost $1,000 for the AHA!!! There were about 65 participants in this 2 hour Zumba marathon. It was a great workout and so much fun!!

Hilary, the Zumba instructor, got involved with Zumba after having her second child. She had gained “baby weight” and was looking for a fun way not only to socialize, but also to exercise. So she founded “Zumba with Hilary”. There is also an official partnership between the AHA and Zumba. Zumba is a form of freestyle dance, combining aerobics, dancing and fun! Every so often, the instructor lets out a “Wooooooo!!!” or a “Zuuuummbaaa!!!!” or some other squeal of enthusiasm!

After the event, I thanked the participants and handed out Red Dress pins on behalf of the AHA as well as information about the AHA, Go Red for Women, and warning signs and risk factors of heart disease. It was great to see that young, old, fit and not so fit, men and women could all participate in this fundraiser for the great cause of bringing an end to heart disease!

Juliana McKee