It happened, y'all, it happened! I spent 12 MONTHS, aka an entire YEAR, of my life preparing for this moment and I am so honored and humbled to announce that I am your 2022 Mrs. Petite USA!
Many of you that have followed my pageantry journey over the last 7 years have watched me grow from a mom of two small baby boys trying to get the word out about the need for my adoptive and foster families, to an extroverted and passionate non-profit owner, steadily plowing away at getting bookbags into the foster care systems all over the US while showing others on ways we can be kind to the precious boys and girls who are in our foster care system and let them know that they are Special, Loved, and WANTED!
My goal as Mrs. Petite USA is to get an additional 5,000 bags into the Foster Care system and touch ALL 50 states!
So now that it's been a little over a month, I have had time to come off cloud 9 (a little) and am working on my year as your Mrs. Petite USA while also preparing for the Universal Petite pageant next July where I will compete for the inaugural Mrs. Universal Petite title on a cruise to Mexico!!! That's right, I said a cruise to Mexico!
I wanted to recap the Petite USA pageant week for those of you who wanted to know all about the pageant and what pageant week actually looks like! If you have ever considered being in a pageant and are 5'6 and under, I highly encourage you to look into Petite USA for 2023 as titles are filling up quickly!
*All professional photos courtesy of the amazing Matty Jacobsen at Magic Dreams Production*
Day 1: Check in and orientation!
Okay, so check in and orientation can be EXTREMELY intimidating because it is the very first in person impression you give to the Directors, former Queens, and title holders you will be competing against. In some pageants, especially state level, you may have previously met some of the ladies you are competing with, but at the national level, you more than likely have never met anyone in person, unless you have competed together before or had some form of appearance together ahead of time. I had not met anyone, in any division, in person, prior to the pageant! It is very exciting but also very scary to finally meet the amazing ladies you had spoken to but never met!
Some of the things that happen at check in and orientation is:
Meet and greet contestants, director(s), and current titleholders.
Take a boatload of pictures!
Get the pageant agenda for the week.
Find out the stage walking patterns and your place in the lineup.
Get your interview time.
Learn of the expectations of the week and beyond.
Orientation is the time when it starts "getting real" and the competition begins! It's important to show up ready, look your best, and be prepared with all paperwork (and if already turned in, bring extras just in case), and bring your gifts if you want to give anything to the Director and current Queens (you should do this!) as a thank you for their help over the last year!!!
That night....GET SLEEP!!!! The next day...Interview!
Interview day is normally a "hurry and wait" day and also full of anxiety. Some pageants will have Interview the same day as preliminary competition, some will have rehearsals, some only have interview and a party. It's all based on how that particular pageant works. Interviews can last anywhere from 3-15 minutes, according to the system and the amount of contestants. I would say 3-5 minutes is average, and that is not much time to get out all you want them to know about you, your platform, what you have done and your plans as the title holder, so you have to be STRATEGIC!
With Petite USA, there were over 150 contestants across the Teen, Miss, Ms., Mrs., and Elite categories, so the interviews literally took from 8AM-5PM. All I have to say is BRAVO to the judges, because they had to sit and listen to a LOT of interviews, platforms, and find the ones that were the perfect fit for the title.
For Petite USA, we had what is called a Panel Style Interview. This means that there is a panel of Judges sitting across from you, the contestant, asking you rapid fire questions for a certain time frame. We had approximately 3 minutes to let the judges know everything on our heart and why we should be the person to take home the crown. No pressure, right?!?! Haha. To say the least, this is one of the most critical moments in the pageant and if you have not prepared for the interview for months in advance, especially at a national level, then you are setting yourself up for failure. Interview is strategic and you must be prepared to speak eloquently and quickly without talking too fast and leaving out the pesky words like, "umm," "yeah," and "you know?" which is SOOO much harder than you realize!
The interview was amazing for me! I knew going in that I had literally been working on interview prep for 12 months, with 3 coaches, so I felt amazingly prepared. I was also rocking an orange dress, which was a color I had NEVER worn before, and I was the only one in my category wearing orange, so I felt on point!
I knew when I walked out that I was able to speak about The Queen of Bags Initiative, my plans at Mrs. Petite USA, and why I was the best person for the job. I knew at this moment that I had done everything I could and felt I was walking into Prelims in the best position I could be! What was even more fun, was that after our interview, we got an amazing photoshoot with Magic Dreams Photography! See below! Isn't Matty so talented?!?! Ps, girls, these were INCLUDED in our photo package for the entire weekend!
Once Interview were done we were free to walk around Milwaukee, practice walking on stage, or rest up until it was time for our Sparkle Party!!!!
Now, when you ask Queens to get "sparkly" then we go all out! I have NEVER seen so much bling in my life! It was nothing short of beautiful to see each and every lady dressed in bling from head (we wore our state crown) to toe!
I, personally, loved my dress oh so much because my husband and boys gave it to me for my birthday! It is a gorgeous Marc DeFang and came from one of my pageant bestie's store in Omaha, Nebraska! Glamour Girl Prom and Pageant pretty much dressed me most of the week and I felt so beautiful (I'll show you all the looks below)! Go check them out for all your pageant needs - they ship and consult over the phone, zoom, facetime! My shoes, red and full of bling, were a Christmas present from my hubby and they came from Macy's and are by INC. Each contestant was able to show their style and flare and we were all so unique!
At the Sparkle party we had lots of yummy desserts and a coffee and tea bar. We were able to take lots of pictures, mingle and exchange our Sparkle gift! Each contestant was asked to bring a small gift the symbolized their state and/or themselves! It was hard for me to decide on the perfect gift but finally came to the decision to symbolically adopt a sea turtle since my state costume represented Georgia's coastline conservation and the Georgia Sea Turtle Center in Jekyll Island. Turtles, both land and sea, are very important to me. I collect them, I advocate for them through trash pickups, promoting no-plastic July, and upcycling ventures, and just love them for the beautiful creatures they are!
I was SO excited when Katie, Mrs. Northeast Petite, picked my bag. Little did I know at the time, but she and her dad shared a love of turtles and she even has a pet turtle her dad gave her. She lost her dad last year so the symbolic adoption and beaded turtle bracelet made both she and I cry. I also had a few peach themed fun items in there since we are the "Peach State" and wanted to represent that as well.
I got the gift from Mrs. California and she gave me an adorable Disneyland reusable coffee mug and all kinds of goodies inside. As an avid lover of all things Disney (I've never been to Disneyland, but I've been to Disney World a LOT) I was super excited and I have to admit that I use that cup every day for my "driving coffee" on my commute and think about Capi every day since she gave it to me!
After exchanging gifts we got to watch an amazing makeup demonstration by the incredibly talented Just Right Cosmetics! We ended the night with a fun raffle and the incredible announcement from the International Director, Hazely Lopez, that this year there would be a MRS. category added to Universal Petite! I almost screamed out loud with excitement! "If" I won, I would be the very first Mrs. Petite USA to compete internationally!
On Friday it was time for the State Costume contest and then PRELIMS, but first, we had rehearsals! Ahhhh! It was officially GO time!
My beautiful rehearsal dress was from Glamour Girl Prom and Pageant in Omaha, Nebraska. My earrings are from Grace Ann Designs in Milledgeville, Georgia. My shoes are Marc Defang and my hair and makeup throughout the week is by the talented Kelly Lyerly and Giavonna Lyerly from South Carolina!
The state costume was optional, but I knew I wanted to participate, not only to represent my state, but also to have that extra practice time on stage. The state costume was not part of the final scores, but a separate event with an award. The winners of the pageant, however, will have to participate in a National Costume competition, so may as well practice, right?! My best friend and I spent hours designing and creating this and we were so proud of what we made!
Here is a description of my costume description that was read on stage, "In 2007, the Jekyll Island Authority established the Georgia Sea Turtle Center to help injured Sea Turtles with rehabilitation while also educating, and preserving the delicate balance of the Oceanic Ecosystem. As an advocate for Ocean Conservation through upcycling, plastic reduction and recycling, Mrs. Georgia’s costume is made of 75% upcycled and recycled products and is named, “Shell Yes!”
My costume was upcycled from an old prom cocktail dress that I bought on Poshmark for $13, a busted pillow, some old material that had never been used, a pair of my old prom shoes (yes, I admit I still had them), wedding lights from Courtney's wedding, sea shells, a $2 headband from TJ Maxx, leftover beads and crafting materials, foam bath letters, straws, spray paint, glitter, and a ton of hot glue! The turtle shell was strapped on with the matching scarf (to tell you how old that dress probably was - do I hear 2000 calling, anyone?) that came with that prom dress!
And FINALLY...it was time for the Preliminary competition! We had a few hours break because Teen, Miss, and Ms. prelims were before the Mrs. and Elite but it went by quickly! The Preliminary competition consisted of Fitness Wear and Evening gown. No opening number, question, or finale. Short and sweet! I felt amazing in both of my prelims and was excited and SOOO ready for finals! Once our prelim was done, we were released for the evening and eagerly awaited finale day!
Fitness wear from Shein with thousands of AB stones hot fixed on by myself and my BFF, Courtney. Earrings by Go Bling Yourself. Shoes by Jessica Simpson with a satin shoestring upgrade from Amazon!
Custom gown designed by Johnathan Kayne, Nashville, Tennessee. Earrings by Go Bling Yourself. Shoes by Marc Defang.
Saturday morning was waking up full of excitement because it was FINALS day! At this point I knew that I had done everything I could up to this moment and for finals - top 15 announcement, it was all in God's control! We had our final rehearsal early that morning and then we were released until time for finals. For prelims, the Teen, Miss, and Ms. groups went first but for finals, the Mrs. and Elite Ms. were the first up and I was so glad for that. I was ready, and wanted it to get here sooner than later.
I just loved my rehearsal outfit from the amazing Glamour Girl Prom and Pageant from Omaha, Nebraska! Earrings by Go Bling Yourself. Shoes by Nine West.
For finals, we had a beautiful dress that was given to us as part of our entry into the pageant. I cannot wait to wear it again along with the beautiful gold and black fashion earrings that were also part of our entry! We lined up, introduced ourselves and our state and then lined back up because OMG, it was time for the top 15 announcement!
At this moment, all I could think was, oh please call me early on! Luckily, I did not have to wait long, they called me 2nd! Whew, I MADE the top 15! I get a chance to compete in finals for the crown!
Okay, so now it is GO TIME! I have made it to the semi-finals and fitness and evening gown scores are wiped and we are starting over. I need to go in there and give it my all! Now that we are in semi-finals, our order has changed and I am 2nd in the lineup behind Michigan!
We re-compete in fitness and evening wear and wait for the announcement of top 5!
For fitness, I LOVED my routine! My amazing coach, Wendi Russo, and I worked on the format, turns, style, etc. for months. I was so proud of how it turned out and was happy with the sunshine color fitness wear I selected!
For evening wear, again, Wendi and I worked on this routine for months. I walked in my kitchen, at my office, and at my friend's, Whitney Kizer, dance studio! It all came down to this and I was so happy with how it turned out and felt confident that no matter what happened, I had given every ounce of myself and had been my best self!
After we finished evening gown, it was time to wait for the top 5 announcement. Those 5 would make it to the finals and have the "final question" and finally, crowning moment. I have not been this nervous in a VERY long time! I knew I had done my best, but also knew there were 14 other women who had also worked very hard for this moment. Before I could think too long about it, it was time for the top 5 announcement.
Again, as I prayed, it was 1.) God please let this be my time and 2.) Please call me first.
"Our first finalist is, "Mrs. Georgia!" Holy moly, I made the TOP 5! I'm in the finals! I can hardly believe it. At this point my first thought is, "Well, at least I know I'll win a trophy!" Behind me they call Hawaii, Washington DC, California, and Texas. Here we were, your top 5!
The last thing before crowning was the final question. Now for final question, there is a fine line between answering the question too quickly, just right, and rambling. You need to keep it between 30-45 seconds and remember that the judges have hopefully already seen your heart and your plans for the year and all you need to deal is "seal the deal" on why you are the best.
Since I was the first to be called for top 5, I was the first question to be asked and answered. Now, I will be honest with you, I thought I blew it. I thought I did not answer it the way I wanted to, and under that kind of pressure, it's easy to be insecure and second guess yourself. My question was, "If you were a judge, what would you want to ask the contestants?" My response (the gist of it, at least) was, "I would ask them what their plan is for the year. To me, a title holder, especially at the National level, should have a laid out plan for their year as the titleholder. As Mrs. Petite USA, my plan is to place an additional 5,000 bags into the foster care system through my non-profit. Thank you."
As I sat there and listened to the other four, the doubt and self defeat were setting in for me. I did not say, "My non-profit, The Queen of Bags." I only said Non-profit. Maybe I should have said how I was going to do it. I didn't say anything about my blog, or the appearances I had already lined up. Crap, I blew it. I am my own.worst.enemy!
But then...I changed my attitude and said, "Ok, Allison, you made it this far. No matter what, you are a winner. You brought the Queen of Bags to a National Platform, you made the top 5 at Petite USA, and you answered honestly and with heart. You won just by getting this far." Now, I have to hope and pray that my scores were the best overall.
When I got back stage, one of the girls who was in top 15 ran up and grabbed me and said, "Girl, you were freaking awesome, you got this, you won!" I was taken back because she loved my answer. I said, "Really?" because I was really shocked. She reassured me I had given a great answer, and so, my mindset changed....maybe I DID do it? Maybe, just maybe, I can win?!?
After the Elite Ms. top 5 was announced and they answered their questions, it was time for Nancy, Mrs. Petite USA 2021, to make her final walk. Then, all Mrs. contestants hit the stage, followed by the top 5, where optional awards (Mrs. Congeniality, Photogenic, Spirit Award, and Presidential Service award recipients) were announced. Then....it was time to announce the winners.
The top 5 moved to center stage. I will be honest with you, God and I talked A LOT over this weekend, but at this moment, I was just saying, "God, please don't let them call my name. Please let this be my time to win."
4th runner up is: Texas!
Oh gosh, okay, I'm still in it. Here we go....3rd runner up is....Mrs. D.C.! Ahhh, okay, I'm in the top 3, the TOP 3. I can hardly breath at this point. And our 2nd runner up is.....Mrs. California!
Oh MYLANTA.....I'm in the top 2, the top 2! Hawaii and I walk to center stage and hold hands. At this point, I'm afraid I'm going to pee myself I'm so nervous and excited. I am facing towards my husband, kids, and Courtney and Dana. I can see them but I have to look down. I can't look at anyone. I'm literally shaking so badly that I could probably bounce myself off the stage. I thought I was nervous earlier, but this took the cake. I can honestly say that this was the most nervewracking moment of my entire life. The only other time I can recall being this nervous was on Homecoming court my Senior year of High School right before they called out the Queen....and it was not me. But at this time, at least I had my Daddy's arm to hold on to. "God, please let this be Your plan for me. Please let me win this....please let it be MY time...."
"Your first runner up is......Mrs. Hawaii Petite! Your new Mrs. Petite USA is, MRS. GEORGIA PETITE!"
I did it, y'all, I did it. When they called Hawaii's name as 1st runner up, all I could think was, "Holy cow, I just won Mrs. Petite USA! Holy cow, I won!" Then I looked up and I saw my family. Eric was grinning like a mule eating briers, the boys were looking at my like, "why is she crying?" my best friend, Courtney, was ugly crying just like me and I could see Dana hollering! I have the best people in my tribe!
The moment is still surreal and will honestly be one of the greatest moments of my life. I pulled my kids out of school for three days their first full week and I have no regrets. They were there and they saw me pursue my dreams. They had watched for 12 months as I prepped, volunteered, sacrificed lots of my favorite foods to be on a strict diet, made appearances, walked, beaded, interviewed, showed up, and finally showed out. This was the moment I wanted THEM to see. Mommy worked hard and she did it. I wanted them to see that I did what I went to do and it was all for them and our family. This next year will be for them and for the non-profit I started because of them.
After the pageant, my kiddos go to to go enjoy the Wisconsin State Fair while I watched the Teen, Miss, and Ms. finals in full relaxation mode in my crown and sash! I had one request from them...."Bring me CHEESE CURDS!" LOL.
After the Teen, Miss, and Ms. Queens were crowned, we had pictures, an after party, followed by our Queens photoshoot and contract signing.