Sunday, August 30, 2009

Atlanta's Apparel Mart Modeling - Claire's Collection

Did you know you can die from trying on clothes? I didn’t realize it until I tried on pageant gowns for four days straight. Claire’s Collection gowns are custom-made with the most intricate beading and design imaginable. Their showroom at the market was a little different than most, as gowns were shown by private appointment, which meant I would try on all 120 gowns if the buyer wanted that. Most only wanted 20 to 30 of their favorites tried on, and of course, would discuss design changes and additions to make each gown unique for their client. As you might imagine, I quickly ascertained which gowns were my favorite, and was thrilled to design and order my Miss America evening gown!

I cannot thank Jane Engelke from Elizabeth Michaels enough for all she's also done for me. She introduced me to Daniel two years ago, and she has made certain I have all the best clothes to wear - plus I love having her and her mom as my friend!

It was fun to see several other Miss America contestants there. Miss Massachusetts and Miss Indiana were modeling with Tony Bowls, Miss Florida and Pennsylvania were there on behalf of Jovani, and shopping through the week, I saw Miss Virginia, Miss South Carolina, Miss Louisiana and Miss Tennessee. Joe Whiteko stopped in to take some photographs, and several of the other models wanted to try on my gown and sash, so here is my "mob" video!

Daniel gave me the day off on Sunday to shop for my Miss America wardrobe – what a day! I met some of the neatest designers who were willing to let me try on th
eir creations, and some of them even gave me clothes for free – so exciting! The most exciting part of the day came near the end of the day when we were feeling very pressed for decisions. I had tried on several things from a designer called Musani and absolutely LOVED everything I put on. Par to the course, their clothing was very upscale and expensive, which I’m sure is why I wanted it all! I had promised the Musani folks that I would make a decision on what I thought I might be able to purchase by late afternoon. When I went back to their showroom, the designer had UNBELIEVABLE news for me! He has a show in New York City next month, and in between my trying on and coming back, he had fired his model and wanted to hire me and become a sponsor by giving me free clothing – woohoo!!!! I’m off to The Big Apple!

Truly, becoming Miss West Virginia has been so far above and beyond what I could have ever dreamed – God is so good to me, I cannot thank Him enough for his blessings!

Dinner with Kyle Maynard

To top off this exhausting day, we had the best evening ever having dinner with Kyle Maynard, the congenital amputee that was a wrestling champion in the state of Georgia. Kyle has agreed to partner with me in my school tour to help me emphasize the message that you can accomplish anything no matter what life situation you are in. I am SO EXCITED about meeting him and telling his story. He picked us up in his vehicle, took Mom and I to Ted’s Restaurant in downtown Atlanta, where we talked and shared until midnight. He is amazing! Remind me never to complain again!

Off to Atlanta - Airport Fiasco

Tuesday morning began the “trip from you know where.” Whoever said travel is glamorous and exciting hasn’t traveled with us! The problem was: We bought too many bargains, I was given too many nice things as a contestant and had nowhere to pack them to get on the plane to Atlanta. We get this bright idea that we’ll just pack up what we can in a box and ship it home so we don’t have to fool with it (or pay for an extra baggage claim). Finding a box was a challenge, but once we got it, we rolled clothes and packed that baby tight as a drum. Feeling very proud of ourselves, we get up early, give ourselves an extra hour to drop the box off and drop our rental car. We plugged the Post Office address into the GPS, and off we went – and went – and went – and went – around and around in circles in the same area for an hour trying to find that “invisible” post office. Gave up and came up with Plan 2: We’ll call UPS and arrange for a pickup at the rental car company. We spend time getting that accomplished while speeding to the airport and missing every turn possible, fearing we’re going to miss our flight, but making it in time to just screech through the rental checkout, drop the box and jump on the plane.

We truly are not world travelers, obviously, because if we were, we would have thought through that little “leaving an unoccupied box at an airport” scenario and realized there was no way they were letting us do that. On top of learning that our box would be accompanying us everywhere we went, we learned we had come to the wrong terminal of the airport and we needed to walk about a half a mile to get to the correct place. Paid an extra $55.00 to check out bags and box, and took off at a run. When we get to the gate, we learn that our plane has been delayed, which was a good thing, because somewhere in this crazy mess of a day, I had lost my cell phone. I took off in search of it, and was able to find it 45 minutes later back at the beginning of the trek!

By the time we got on the plane, we were exhausted and wondering what we were thinking! When we arrive in Atlanta, gather up our luggage (picture this: each of us with one huge suitcase, two travel bags hanging off of each arm, one small suitcase, a LARGE box, and two purses) – when we get to the taxi stand, the guy takes one look at us and says there’s no way we’ll fit in the car, so he makes us wait to get a taxi big enough for all of our junk. We had intended to ride the subway in to the hotel to save money, but by that point, we didn’t care what it cost – we were getting rid of that box (and the fourteen other bags!) When we arrive at the hotel – guess what – NO LUGGAGE CARTS! Three trips later, our stuff is stowed away and we are ready for our market adventure.

Saturday – MAO Teen Pageant Finals!

This morning, each of the contestants taped a minute-long promo commercial for “Being Green in Beautiful with GreenT,” one of the sponsors of the Miss America organization. We each had to come up with an eco-friendly tip based on personal experience. That was easy for me, as my grandma has washed aluminum foil and plastic bags my whole life, and if any of us throw anything away that could have been washed up, we feel guilty!

Mom and I had lunch with Leah Summers, WV’s Executive Director, and Jen Garten, WV’s Outstanding Teen Executive Director. Good times, lots of laughs, and great food! Saturday night was the final pageant for the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, and as promised, it was a showstopper. I sure am glad I wasn’t a judge. At the end of the night, Miss WV’s Outstanding Teen, Jackie Riggleman, received the Community Service Award, and Miss Wisconsin’s Outstanding Teen was crowned the winner. We are so proud of Jackie, as her award highlights the most important part of the Miss America organization, giving back – way to go, Jackie!
Sunday and Monday, Mom and I rested and shopped at the outlets. I have never tried on so many things in such a short period of time in my life. Neiman Marcus and Saks had outlets there, and their clearance racks were actually affordable, so we spent a good bit of time looking for cocktail dresses and things I might need in January. By Monday night, we both were so exhausted, we could hardly walk.