• February 2014

What Former Miss District of Columbia Can Teach Businesswomen Everywhere

By Sonya Gavankar
TV reporter, “The Face of the Newseum,” and
Miss District of Columbia 1997

We hate to admit it, but we are judged immediately by the image we project.

No one knows this better than those in television news. When women first entered TV news, they were told to dress like the men. Times have changed. Now you can see a financial commentator on a morning show in a sleeveless leather dress.

So what do the professional executive woman and the young woman entering the career field need to know about managing their image?

My training came from competing in the 1997 Miss America Pageant. As a short-haired pageant novice, I had no idea how to achieve a perfect pageant image, but was pretty sure I didn’t want it anyway. I was guided, by trial and error, to a professional image that set me apart from everyone else.

For the past 20 years I’ve been helping young women find their personal sense of style while looking professional—yet not boring. Standing out from the crowd has to show not only in professional experience but in visual presentation. I teach simple tricks to make every woman look and feel her best.

I’m always amazed when I stand at the makeup counter and see the products that promise to change my life. I just grin, and stick with the simple tried-and-true tools that have been my mainstay—items that are affordable and won’t break the bank.

But I know from experience that they will break a style rut.

Scroll down for a few ideas on how to do just that. And remember these simple tips:

  • The best way to look well-rested is to be well-rested.
  • Drink water.
  • Get an hour extra hour of sleep—although that is easier said than done.
  • Limiting your beauty routine to 15 minutes so you can sleep a little longer is a great place to start.

Start from scratch.

  1. Wash your makeup brushes. There’s no better way of refreshing a palette than by making sure the tools are clean. Use a pea-sized amount of hotel shampoo and imagine you’re cleaning your childhood Barbie’s hair under the faucet.
  2. Throw away old makeup. You wouldn’t keep old milk in your fridge, so don’t keep old lipstick. Smell them! if they smell like crayons, they turned and can’t be salvaged. I know you spent a lot of money on those five shades of lipstick you never wear. You won’t feel so bad when you realize that they spoiled a year ago.
  3. Play! Try using your existing makeup heavier and in different ways. Maybe that light-colored shadow you never use would look great just at the inside corner of your eye, making you look more lively. Be bold! It all comes off easily, so why not give it a try?
  4. Don’t go for an overhaul. If you don’t feel comfortable with how you look, you will never truly feel that you look like yourself. Aim to pump up the volume on your look. There is no mistaking a brilliant woman who takes the time to make her outside reflect the great things that happen in her heart and in her mind.
  5. Smile. And imagine a wind machine in your hair!

About Sonya Gavankar

Sonya Gavankar is an award-winning television personality who can be seen hosting programs on PBS, BGTV, and MHz Networks. Her career has spanned a wide range of shows—from international food to hard news.

She serves as The Face of the Newseum, hosting live interview programs, and appearing in video installations, video blogs, and game shows. It’s her job to bring a cohesive voice to the Newseum’s 250,000 square feet of exhibit and interactive programming.

In her free time, Gavankar goes behind the camera. Her photography has been shown in several Washington area galleries, and she is a casting director for independent films.

In 2013, she joined the Inkandescent team as the supervising producer for the growing list of TV shows on InkandescentTV.com.

Learn more about Gavankar at sonyagavankar.com.