Volume 2 Issue 3 - July 2013

Reality TV come to Nebraska

Whether you are a reality TV junkie or a Honey Boo Boo hater, reality TV has come to Nebraska and is in our own back yard starring former Mrs. Nebraska 2007-Michele Strom and her pageant shop Winning Crowns Boutique (WCB). In Michele’s own words this is how “Obsessed with the Dress” was born.

The pageant world is often times misunderstood; wrongly stereotyped by outsiders who close their minds to a better understanding of who actually participates in these competitions.  Those of us who have competed understand there can be both good and bad within the world of pageantry.  Pietown Productions, a Los Angeles-based production company, wanted to create a voyeuristic view of pageantry by showing what many of us know as our “Olympic” moment and also the mishaps that can occur.  

On September 5, 2011, Pietown was searching for the perfect location for their newest docu-series television creation and contacted the Winning Crown Boutique (WCB) in Omaha. Owner, Michele Strom, Mrs. Nebraska 2007, remembers that day fondly.  Frances Nefsky, a WCB employee, nearly turned the production company away telling Michele that someone was trying to sell her “pies.”

Not knowing that Pietown was one of the biggest production companies in LA, the WCB nearly missed its opportunity.  A subsequent email was sent to Strom where she then understood why they were calling and what opportunity lie ahead.  After several conference calls with Pietown, in-house production began. This included creating short videos of all of the staff and their interactions with pageant clientele.  Next, it was then up to Pietown to choose the pageant boutique that best fit their criteria of credibility, dressing winners and of course having big entertaining personalities.  

Finally in November 2011, Strom received a phone call announcing that the Winning Crown Boutique was indeed going to have its own reality television show focusing on her work with pageant clients. The first stage of production commenced for what the industry calls a “sizzle reel” which is a snippet of what the show would be about in order to help sell the show to a network.  Within a month of being on the market, WE TV bought 6 hour long episodes which would began filming in May 2012.

For the summer of 2012, Strom and her staff at the WCB filmed 6 days a week capturing all of the details of what goes into creating a winner.  The premise of the show is to capture how Strom creates a winning look for the varying pageant contestants from the newcomers to the pageant veterans. Once their unique look is achieved, cameras followed them to their pageant to document the outcome.  The show focuses equally on Michele’s coaching, makeup application and tough love she offers clients. The show is aptly named “Obsessed with the Dress” because every contestant focuses so strongly on what dress will be worn to help them win the crown.  

Strom is no stranger to dressing winners in the pageant world as she has dressed hundreds; including Miss America 2011 Teresa Scanlan.  What caught the eye of Pietown was the fact that Strom’s store was one of a select few in the country able to create a custom look for their client while maintaining their status as a full service pageant boutique.  As Pietown professes to their network, many stores claim to be a pageant boutique but ultimately cannot live up to the dedication and perfection that Strom strives for on a daily basis. These so called ‘pageant boutiques’ are a dime a dozen and the difference is noticeable the moment you step inside the Winning Crown Boutique where Strom caries out her motto of “Always Original, Never Identical”. Strom created her motto after it was apparent that others in the industry were intrigued by her profession and often tried to duplicate her efforts.  

 Four months prior to filming, Strom and her husband of 10 years decided to divorce.  The distraction of the show and the love from her friends and family helped her to get through a very difficult time in her life.  “There were times I didn’t know if I was going to be able to handle all of the stress and pressure to be everything to my kids, career and now becoming a TV personality. Thankfully, I had close friends such as Andrea Stine, Mrs. Nebraska 2008, and Sharon Soltero, Mrs. Nebraska 2005, to always be the friend you could count on to offer advice on all of my new situations without judgment.” Through the months of filming Strom was thankful for her friends and family who were always available at a moment’s notice to help with the kids and life’s stressful events.

Strom pictured with friends Soltero (L) and Stine (R) who advised her during filming.

Strom pictured with Beau Olson the Winning Crown Boutique store manager and soon to be star of the show Obsessed with the Dress.

Strom filming at the Mrs. United States Pageant in July of 2012.

Filming concluded in Las Vegas at the Mrs. United States pageant in late July 2012. Strom notes “it was amazing to finally be done with all of the long days and invasive microphones. I can finally get back to doing what I love most, which is being a mom.”

During the final episode WCB had a fashion show modeling beautiful dresses designed by Sherri Hill.

Strom’s life has dramatically changed since the days of winning the title in 2007. Strom adds, “winning the title of Mrs. Nebraska has led me to this next exciting chapter in my life.”

“Obsessed with the Dress” is scheduled to air on July 27th 2013 at 8:00pm CST.  A premier party is in the works and details will be released on Strom’s Facebook fan page.  “Everyone is welcome to attend because every Mrs. Nebraska has played a part in my achievements.”  

On a personal note, when I was the Mrs. Nebraska judge for the 2013 Mrs. Nebraska Pageant last November, one question I purposely asked each contestant was “how do you feel this reality show will impact viewers, and do you feel it will be a positive or negative thing for Nebraska pageants”? As you might guess, the opinions and responses were mixed. One contestant said “we will just have to wait and see how it turns out. Reality TV is not “real life” and I hope it does not depict the pageant wives and mothers of Nebraska in a bad manner” while another contestant commented “it is an exciting opportunity to have Nebraska in the national spotlight, especially since our state is not considered to be a big pageant state like states in the South or on either of the coasts.”  You be the judge yourself and make the determination by tuning in to the premier on July 27th.

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Birthdays and Anniversaries

Birthdays

• Sherri Ellsworth - July 15th

• Deb Essex - July 16th

• Marcelle Broome - July 30th

Anniversaries

• Kristie and Mike Davis - July 31st

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Mrs. America Send-off for Kandis Friedenbach

Save the date: July 28th! Invites will be coming via mail.

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Titleholder of the Month - Karalyn Hoefer (2011)

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This month’s titleholder and I go way back to the late 80’s. I “knew of” Karalyn before she became Mrs. Hoefer. In 1987, she competed for the title of Miss Nebraska America in my hometown of North Platte and I served on one of the committees that year. Then in  the early 90’s our paths crossed again and we became co-workers for a nationwide management consulting firm, based out of Lincoln. It was a time when “big hair” was popular and big shoulder pads were a “must” to wear in all of your outfits. Several years later we reconnected, and today we belong to the same sorority of Mrs. Nebraska titleholders. Funny how those things work out sometimes.

In 2006, when I was the Director of the Mrs. Nebraska Pageant, Karalyn and I saw each other at a social event and I encouraged her to compete for the Mrs. Nebraska title. Being a little hesitant, at first, Karalyn agreed that she would think about and later decided that she would give it a try. That year she placed 2nd runner-up.

Karalyn enjoyed the pageant experience so much that in 2007 she gave it another shot and was named 1st runner up.

Giving up was not an option at this point, so she competed in 2008 placing as 2nd runner up.

After taking a year off, the transformation continued and in 2010 Karalyn was chosen 1st runner up once again.

Knowing that Karalyn had unfinished business to complete and with much support from her family and friends, in 2011 her journey to capture the crown became a reality and she won the Mrs. Nebraska America 2011 title. Anyone knowing Karalyn, knows of her tenacity and perseverance. When she puts her mind to something she doesn’t quit until her goal is achieved, which is one of the many positive attributes that I admire about Karalyn. Women who possess these qualities are great role models, not only for their own daughters, but for others as well. Karalyn didn’t ever see herself as a loser as others tend to do when they do not win the Mrs. Nebraska title the first, second and even fourth time. She evaluated each experience as a learning tool and came back the next year more equipped and even more confident until the timing was right for her. Pageants are subjective. As a Director, we always try to instill that to our contestants, and there are those that never quite understand that, but Karalyn did, and she did it with such grace and poise. “I had learned so much about myself and what I was capable of…as someone once said, the definition of success is falling down 7 times and getting up 8!”

“Being Mrs. Nebraska 2011 was an incredible opportunity and an amazing lifetime experience.  I could not have done it without the amazing support of my family and friends. What an incredible year!”  

Once Karalyn was crowned the whirlwind of activity began. She only had 3 weeks from the night she was crowned before she left for Nationals.  Mrs. America was held at the incredible Greenbriar resort in West Virginia and the contestants spent 2 weeks there rehearsing and prepping for the big event.  The Mrs. America Pageant aired on national TV on Mothers Day drawing over 160 million viewers.  Karalyn placed as a top 15 finalist. Her roommate, Mrs. Florida-April Lufrui won Mrs. America and went on to win Mrs. World.  “I have made incredible lifelong friends throughout the United States. We love keeping in contact via Facebook and have mini reunions whenever & wherever possible.  In fact, I will see several of my sister queens next week in Florida!”

Pageantry is a family affair in the Hoefer household! Her oldest daughter, Kalyssa, is currently Miss Star City and recently competed for Miss Nebraska America.  Her youngest daughter, Kaity, was Miss High School Nebraska 2012 and was a top 16 finalist at the national pageant.  Karalyn is currently the State Director of the Miss Nebraska & Miss Iowa Jr. High/High School/Collegiate America Pageant.  This is a fairly new pageant system that was founded 7 years ago by her 2011 Mrs. America sister Amanda Patterson from Arkansas.

Aside from all the glitz and glamour, Karalyn’s career is an Associate Broker with Woods Bros. Realty.  She serves on the Board of Directors for the Realtors Association of Lincoln, and is the President Elect for the Nebraska Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) Chapter. She has repeatedly been named to the Top 25 Wood Bros list for being Best of the Best. Karalyn was also named as “Best Dressed” in 2012 by Lincoln’s Strictly Business Magazine.

In her spare time, Karalyn continues to volunteer for numerous organizations. Her hobbies include traveling, reading and relaxing!

“My journey to Mrs. Nebraska was a little longer than most...throughout it all I had the unending support of my incredible family and friends.  Their encouragement, love and support gave me the courage to try again-to listen to my heart.  I have always believed that God’s timing is perfect and I trusted that He had a plan.  Being Mrs. Nebraska 2011 was exactly what he had planned for me.  The people I have met, the experiences that I have had, have all been worth the wait!”   

Karalyn your journey may indeed have been longer than most, but your drive and positive attitude of never giving up has inspired so many in and out of the pageant industry. You have raised the bar of completing “unfinished business” with grace and poise and that is why we honor you as July’s Titleholder of the Month for 2013.

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God Bless America!

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