1. Tell us about how you developed some of the key brands in your life.
Sweet T Salon is a brand to help reinvent my mom’s hair salon. After moving back from Chicago to Raleigh, I wanted to create a brand that celebrated my time in Chicago and Southern upbringing. Something like a little bit of Yankee and a Lil’ bit of Y’all.
Through the rebranding process, I overcame the challenges of bringing to reality an idea placed in my heart. While most clients were open to the rebranding of the salon, others wrote mean notes and posted bad reviews. After 10 years since the business rebranding, I learned that the hardest thing about being an entrepreneur is seeing an idea so clearly in your mind takes a lot of grit and strategy to implement.
2. How did pageantry assist you in developing your brand as an entrepreneur?
Pageantry has helped tremendously in speaking with the public. I believe that pageantry has given me skills interviewing potential stylists, sending emails to clients, answering the phone, or leading a staff meeting.
3. Can you speak about the connection between brand and “finding your why”?
My parents and I arrived to the United States as refugees when I was a baby. I helped them achieve their American Dream of running a business and find so much joy in developing personal and business brands for others. Your brand can be a result of your “why”. I have helped many pageant women connect their personal brand to their “why.” In my life, the Sweet T brand celebrates my mission to “Share God’s Love Through Service & Beauty.”
4. Why is developing your brand so important as a pageant competitor?
Your styling, wardrobe, and social media presence will reflect your brand. Additionally, developing your brand will help you communicate your personal “why” when competing.
5. Where should a pageant contestant get started in developing a brand?
On paper! A pageant contestant needs to start by writing out what he or she values. A brand is not a logo but rather how you present yourself and what you are communicating to others.
6. What are some of the most common branding mistakes you see?
The most common branding mistake I see in pageantry is contestants thinking that their personal branding is their organization of choice.
7. What are some tips you have to creating a stand out brand?
Digging deep into your vision, why, and values. Really study those three things and build on them visually and verbally.
8. How does developing a brand benefit a contestant even after the pageant is over?
When you clearly develop your brand, it will grow with you. A pageant title is one year and a contest is one weekend. If you can clearly build your personal brand- that lasts a lifetime. Your personal brand is brought into job interviews, wardrobe selection, and networks.
9. What resources can you recommend to those wanting to learn more?
Working with Commit to the Crown is a great start in developing your personal brand. My book, The Networking Diary offers applicable networking principals to help women connect with confidence. Finally, I invite you to my podcast, “Business + Beauty with Nancy Nguyen Liles” to learn from pageant queens who have successfully developed their personal brands.
10. Any final thoughts?
Developing your personal, pageant, and professional brand takes time and strategy. I have worked with dozens of coaches over the years in different phases of my life to develop brands. As a mom of two toddler girls and a wife to a firefighter, I value family, work life balance and community. These values are part of my business and personal brand. If you need help with your pageant branding, work with Jackie Schiffer with Commit to the Crown!
Nancy Nguyen Liles serves as a mom of two toddler girls and trilingual entrepreneur. She has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Inc.com. After earning a degree in Spanish at NC State University, Nancy established her career in Chicago while earning her MBA from DePaul University.
After returning to Raleigh, she married a Raleigh firefighter. They rode the same school buses from elementary to high school but didn’t know each other then. She owns Sweet T Salon in Raleigh, NC and currently serves as Mrs. North Carolina Petite 2020. Nancy published The Networking Diary because she is passionate about helping entrepreneurs to brand and network with purpose.
Rejection is redirection! Say it with me: Rejection is REDIRECTION.
Rejection has been on my mind on a lot lately as I have spoken to clients who are grappling with rediscovering their confidence after recent pageant losses.
As a former pageant competitor for nearly a decade, I experienced firsthand just how painful it can be to not achieve your dream of winning the crown. You can readall about my journey to the crown here. T
he long and short of it is that I was a "how-to in reverse." Winning the pageant didn't come easily at first, and while I had a few stints as a runner-up, the closer I got... the more the it stung!
Yet, with each no, each rejection came redirection. The key is allowing and empowering ourselves to learn from each experience.
The intention or the "why" behind competing is essential. Why are you the next titleholder? It's safe to say that every one of the women standing on the stage wants to win, so there has to be more.
What impact are you currently having on your community? How do you demonstrate leadership? And perhaps more importantly, what skills and experiences are you working to cultivate in your life regardless of the outcome of the pageant?
Our focus should be presenting the best and most authentic version of ourselves.
During my competition years, I was told to change my talent to pop music (I'm a classically trained operatic soprano)... and guess what? I didn't win. I was told that I had to be "sexy" on stage and while my transformation was so intense my own mother didn't recognize me (I'm a classic All-American girl who brandished hair extensions and bandage dress)... I STILL DIDN'T WIN!
The times that I did win were when I delved in who I was and tapped into my purpose. I may not have been the tallest girl/the girl with the most expensive dress/the girl with the greatest level of fitness, but I WAS A WOMAN WITH VISION.
As a coach, I represent an opinion (it doesn't mean I am always right). I urge each of you to consider feedback from your last pageant, your coaches, friends/family, and spectators. What feedback is helpful/constructive?
"I wish you had brown eyes"- NOT HELPFUL! (I have green eyes.) Move on and keep pushing forward. I have experienced difficult feedback sessions, so I know that it is not always easy. One judge in particular told me that "I needed to work on my body" after winning Miss NYC.
What did I do? I worked my hardest to prepare for nationals as a confident and healthy woman on my own terms (not aligned with that judge's vision). And I will admit, while I initially felt embarrassed... it was a pretty amazing feeling to see that same judge's face when I placed Top 5 at nationals and won multiple high point awards :)
What about those times when we've been true to ourselves and it still isn't our turn?
I feel you on this too. That's why setting and working towards goals are so important!
INTENTION IS EVERYTHING.
Recently, I competed in a voice competition and sang my heart out. I was so incredibly proud of my performance and wouldn't change a thing. While I was disappointed not to advance, I DID come out of the experience a stronger performer, a more confident individual, and an inspired artist with new friendships because of the intention that I set. In addition to working towards the grand prize, I set goals to meet my fellow contestants and to challenge myself as a vocalist.
When your name isn't called into Top 15, Top 5, Winner, I challenge you to be excited for all that lies ahead. Rejection is redirection- whether it is strengthening how you prepare for your next pageant or equipping you to succeed in a new endeavor with confidence, public speaking skills, image, etc., I know there's opportunity around the corner.
So smile and applaud for the winner: she's earned her time, and I promise there's a spotlight waiting for you if you're willing to go find it!
How are those 2020 resolutions coming along? Have you already decided to throw in towel? Don’t despair, C2CGirl has you covered with Jackie's full goal-setting process.
1. Inventory the past year
On a scale of 1-10 rate your life in the following categories: Family/Friends, Relationship, Finances, Career, Health/Fitness, Personal Development, Spirituality… customize with other areas as needed. For example: I also have artistic and entrepreneur goals.
Once your status report is complete, what are the areas of your life you’re most content with? What are the areas where you’d like to see growth?
3. Look ahead to 2021.
Where do you want your life to be in one year? What changes would you like to see in your career, your relationships, your lifestyle, etc? Now is the time to be visionary… we will navigate how to get there in a minute.
For this step, I recommend vision boarding or journaling. Pay attention to how you feel when you’re imagining new possibilities.
4. Break down your annual goals into quarterly and monthly goals.
If you want to save $5,000, there are quarterly and monthly benchmarks that you'll need to hit along the way. I find this provides meaningful insight if you fall short of your goal. Let's think through this: To save $5,000, I'd need to save $416.67/month or $1,250/quarter. I know that twice a year I have a double pay-check but let's say in June, I have a vacation planned. I probably won't be saving $416 the same month I'm going on vacation, so I'll need to adjust my goals and plan to save more in other months if I plan to still hit my $5,000 goal.
This also works for non-numeric goals. Let's say you plan to get an agent. You're going to need to prepare your audition package, get headshots taken, commit to meeting casting directors or attending go-sees, and complete mailers. How can you quantify your success? Perhaps you decide to meet 2 casting directors per month and mail a minimum of one agency per week.
5. Write out metric-based quarterly goals.
Less than 3% of adults write their goals, yet those that do are 42% more likely to achieve their goals if they do. Even for non-numeric goals as discussed above, how can you quantify success?
Instead of “get fit” or “lose weight” try “commit to strength training a minimum of three days per week.”
6. Design accountability systems.
I have various trackers that use to hold myself accountable. Some ideas include: create a chart, use a checklist, find an accountability partner, enroll in a regular class/coaching, and my weekly check-in date.
7. REVIEW YOUR GOALS!
According to Brian Tracy, less than 1% of people review their goals on a daily basis. EVERY weekend, I make a point of reviewing my goals. I physically write out what my weekly wins were and what my actions steps are for the following week.
8. Daily Action Steps
EVERY DAY, I write out my goals on a post-it note. I take inventory to remind myself if there is anything I can do today to be even one step closer to achieving my goal. When I launched Commit to the Crown's product line, there were tons of steps- everything from writing the questions, authoring the study materials, licensing the music, etc. Breaking down a huge task into bite size pieces, helped me achieve my March 1st launch goal.
9. Celebrate your Success!
Be sure to celebrate your successes. Along with tracking my goals, I set rewards and write out my "why." For example, when I was paying off a credit card my "why's" included mantras such as "debt free by 30" and "your credit score will be great!" I also promised (and delivered) to myself a spa day.
What's your goal setting process? Tell me your tips/tricks in the comments below.
Hi there! Welcome to #C2CGirl, the official blog of Commit to the Crown. #C2CGirl will feature relevant discussions, inspirational interviews, lifestyle and more.
When I founded Commit to the Crown back in 2015, I wanted to be not only a coach but a mentor for women looking to find their voice. Yet somewhere along the way, the brand has defined mine. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine the "method" I used to win my first pageant in Central Illinois would turn into a coaching brand that has served women in 45 of 50 US States and 6 countries to date. Come to think of it, I also never imagined as a Voice major and Italian minor living in Illinois, I would be running my own business less than a decade later in NYC.
But you see, that's the thing about pageantry-- it prepares us to take on the things we never planned or never thought we'd be ready for. In every win and every loss, there is a lesson to be learned. And speaking of learning, through the ups and downs of this crazy journey, I have learned a LOT. Some of this blog will be sharing what I have learned alongside and from all of you.
One of the greatest surprises of my coaching career was that despite the level of accomplishment, many women still struggle to have their voice heard in an impactful way. I have been honored to coach lawyers, investment bankers, entrepreneurs, engineers, artists, teachers... every career you can imagine. Yet the challenges women face remain whether from board rooms to big screens, and from classrooms to court rooms.
Commit to the Crown believes that women deserve a place to be the best version of themselves. #C2Cgirl is inspiration, aspiration, lifestyle, and community all in one. Be sure to check back soon for our blog post soon!
Have an idea for a future blog post? Be sure to leave a comment!
NYC pageant coach Jackie Schiffer is passionate about helping women find their voices. Her international client roster includes women competing at the local, national and international level. Currently, she serves on the national coaching team for Miss Earth USA, USA National Miss, Miss Global United States, Mrs. Universal, and more.