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.
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.