Brenda Versoza Skouras of Victory Models & Event Staffing

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If I had to choose one person who instinctively embodies the word “entrepreneur,” I would have to select none other than Brenda Skouras – founder, president, and promotional model expert of Victory Models & Event Staffing.

Born in the fashion capital of the world, this Filipino beauty fell among the chosen few whom dared to enter the cutthroat industry of modeling. From the age of sixteen to twenty-one Skouras, stood tall in shows and posed in front of cameras from the New York City to Milan. Having grown up with a love for the arts- singing and acting- the transition to modeling seemed only fitting, plus what girl doesn’t love clothes.

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Returning to the Big Apple from George Mason University, Skouras, like many others, bartending and cocktail waitressed in between gigs to make ends meet. Not long after fate granted her, not the opportunity of a lifetime, but one that would change her life.

It is difficult to say how many people grow up knowing exactly who and what they want to be, although in a literal sense it seems that life experiences act as a blueprint.

The world of marketing & pr was a new encounter for Skouras, interfacing with the “whose-who” of the entertainment industry, working the room at hottest events in the city, unknowingly making a name for herself – the road to professional autonomy was being paved.

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A life long hard worker, Skouras, with the help of a friend, saw an opportunity to bring innovation to life in her day-to-day work. If models can pose with seductive poise to sell a piece of clothing, a product or a lifestyle, how much more effective would it be to bring that proposed reality to life in an interactive fashion. Simply put, why should models only be utilized on the runway, showroom podiums or in front of a camera? What if she brought the showroom to life, the runway to the party – the showroom to the event?

Needless to say this was the beginning of Skouras’s careering in Promotional Staffing.

At the age of twenty-four Skouras had officially started her first company, “Poshability.” As she continued to build new relationships and foster old ones, news traveled fast around town and clients began rolling in.

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They say “when life throws you lemons, make lemonade” and after three years of developing a successful and thriving business with her friend and business partner, their relationship came to an end as did her company. Like many, anxiety sets in when imagining that you would have to start over, but whether it was her small town spirit or big city nature, Skouras was determined to purse her dreams. With a new partner lined up and previous clients and models in her rolodex, SOZA Models was born and for the next four years she worked harder then ever.

As time pasted a sense of dissatisfaction set in. While she put in the work and the man-hours to create a company she that could be proud of something was missing.

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“Victory is near,” the catch phrase at the three day Tony Robins seminar that help shape her future. In just a weekend Brenda found herself rejuvenated. Describing it as “as weekend you could never forget,” she was encouraged to better herself as a person and in turn as a business owner. Feeling empowered and ready to take on the world, the first thing she did was find a life coach, this would help prevent her from going back to old habits and the second thing she did, perhaps one of her most influential moves yet, was starting her own company, on her own, with no assistance and no partner – Victory Models & Event Staffing.

Looking back on things now Skouras has come to realize that she could have done this all along and that this idea of needing a partner or help was just that, an idea. It is often said “only you can stand in your own way,” but as victory neared, Skouras no longer saw reason to question her abilities.

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Confidence often spews from the successful entrepreneur, but to Skouras, it’s all about family – loyalty and kindness. Taking the high road and “smiles always” are her personal mantras. With a considerate heart she treats her staff and models with care and respect, always keeping open lines of communication and earning their trust.

“The universe will evolve around you, but if you are putting in good, you get a good return.” For the past twelve years she has ridden a waves of success and with an earnest spirit and happy-go-lucky personality, like the shot heard ‘round the world,” Victory Models has spread across the globe. Skouras manages a staff of four in her New York office and 1200 models in the US, Canada and London.

To the prospective entrepreneur, Skouras has offered a few pros she lives by:

1. Try not to take short cuts.

2. Don’t be discouraged.

3. Be true to yourself and honest with your clients.

4. Don’t ever get cocky, always be grateful.

5. Never take no for an answer.

6. Do not sugarcoat! (That’s the New York in her!)

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Adorned with the name Brenda, after the iconic comic book character Brenda Starr – a glamorous and adventurous female reporter, there is no question as to why Mrs. Skouras fits the heels of the U Blush Woman. She is Bold in love and work, Luxurious with her classic collection of Louis Vuitton handbags, Unique, having funky fashion sense, Sophisticated in the way she treats others, and Haute with a stylish charm.

Living life to the fullest Skouras believes you can’t be too serious and that having fun is a must. Spending quality time with her Husband, jet-setting here and there are amongst the few things she like to do for fun, but like any dedicated contemporary professional stylista who loves her job, working definitely is at the top of her list!

Teresa Scanlan, Miss America 2011

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Sometimes the best things in life happen when you least expect them. This might best sum up the crowning of Teresa Scanlan who graced the stage as Miss America 2011. At the age of 17 this young woman made history two times over as the youngest  since 1937 and first Nebraskan to be crowned.  Teresa recalls being humbly surprised by the win, “Every night [of the pageant competition] my goal was to make Nebraska proud, to do my very best, and to show that 17 year olds were capable of something.” Competing without an expectation to win reduced stress and pressure, helping her to truly enjoy the experience – a mindset that might very well have allowed Teresa’s true inner beauty to shine through on stage.

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Teresa’s rise to Miss America is a testament to the essence of life – often taking us down pathways we never imagined. A self-professed “shy” and “studious” girl, from a young age Teresa had her life mapped out, which included entering pageantry at age 14 in order to win scholarship money for college.  Being home-schooled developed her independence by providing her the flexibility to study at her own pace and take initiative, ultimately allowing her to graduate a year early. Home-school also provided an opportunity to develop a close-knit relationship with her mother and six siblings. The middle child of a large family, there was never a dull moment in the Scanlan household – memories that Teresa will forever cherish. Growing up as the more “serious” of her sibship – she never imagined she would morph into a beauty queen.

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When Teresa was just 17 years old she won the local pageant, Miss Southeast, sending her to the state level – Miss Nebraska. At that point, she planned to enter the pageant every year until she aged out at 24.  Little did she know that it would only take her one time to win the title. In June 2010, Teresa won Miss Nebraska just two weeks before her high school graduation.

Teresa described Miss Nebraska as great preparation for Miss America. It was a full-time job for which she deferred college to travel the state making speaking appearances and engaging in community service. Six months into her reign she represented her great state in the Miss America pageant held in January of 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The whirlwind ten days was spent in rehearsals, connecting with fellow pageant contestants, and three nights of preliminary competition. As the youngest contestant, Teresa watched and learned from her experienced pageant sisters. She kept a journal documenting every moment and all the things she felt she could improve on – it was all about preparing for the next year. Teresa enjoyed herself so much that she didn’t even realize how well she was competing. It wasn’t until a she found herself standing backstage with the other top five contestants that it began to settle in, “Okay, it’s going to be one of us.” As each name was announced she grew more and more excited to be a runner up but never thought she would be the final Miss standing. When her name was called as Miss America the feeling was “nothing but pure shock!”

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With her family in the audience and fellow Nebraskans cheering, Miss America 2011 was crowned – Teresa Scanlan. In one night Teresa’s life changed forever. On Saturday she won the title and on Sunday she was in New York City for national media and signing contracts. She spent the entire year traveling over 200,000 miles to 40 states and 4 other countries – her favorite place is Nebraska and Croatia, her ancestry. She participated in numerous speaking engagements, worked with nonprofit organizations, met military families, participated in parades and special events like the Indy 500. Lucky for her, public speaking has never made her nervous – her reign was wonderful training by which she was able to deliver multiple speeches ranging from 5 minutes to 2 hours! In fact, Teresa stated, “performing a piano piece is the only thing on stage that makes me nervous.” This might come as a surprise since she began playing piano at age seven and the modern contemporary piece, “White Water Chopped Sticks,” was the talent she showcased for the Miss America 2011 pageant. Teresa even had the opportunity to prepare the piece with the song’s composer Calvin Jones. Later, she was able to collaborate on an album, “Dueling Piano” which was released in January 2012.

Teresa’s platform issue as Miss America was Eating Disorder Awareness – she wanted to serve as a voice for those who struggle and who have survived these types of disorders. Inspired by a childhood friend and her father who is a psychiatrist, Teresa began researching this issues at a young age. These childhood experiences came full circle as she was able to visit Children’s Hospital Miracle Network, meet with young people who have struggled with food issues, and participated in candlelight vigils. Teresa’s success in pageantry is in honor of healthy living. “I wanted to prove that you could be successful in this competition without ever hurting yourself to do well and to encourage others that they can do the same.”

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Just a few years post Miss America Teresa’s ambitious spirit has motivated her pursuit as a college student and businesswoman. Completing her first year at Patrick Henry College in Virgina, Teresa has resumed her plans that she made as a 7-year-old girl, which include obtaining her degree in Government. Afterwards she plans to attend law school and return to Nebraska to be with her family where she will start her career as a criminal prosecution attorney, before transitioning into politics. She eventually wants to run for state representative and longer term goals include becoming a Senator or Governor. Ultimately she hopes to become a Supreme Court Judge.  Teresa’s reign as Miss America has taught her how to multitask and provided preparation for balancing her college career with entrepreneurship. She started Teresa Scanlan LLC, participating in public speaking opportunities for nonprofits, corporations & advocacy groups, and pageant consulting to help young girls compete. Teresa has also teamed up with Body by Vi 90 Day challenge, which helps people engage in healthy living to meet nutrition and fitness goals.

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In just 20 years Teresa is living a dream. She cites her faith and her mother as her biggest inspirations and the source of her motivation and success. “My faith is completely who I am and affects everything in my life. I wouldn’t be here today without God.” She describer her mother’s self-sacrificing love that, “blows me away.” Teresa hopes that she can one day be to her own children what her mother has been to her – with her own twist of course.

Teresa admits that like others, she too has insecurities, believing that “any insecurity stems from our desire to be loved. It makes us worry about what others think of us.” She overcomes these insecurities through the understanding that “[God] loves me no matter what,“ a realization that has ultimately led her to achieve well beyond her wildest dreams. Despite her accomplishments Teresa believes that success is defined not by any title, crown or, position, rather “by investing in other people.” Teresa desires for her legacy to be more than her crown – she wants people to remember her for the way she loved others.

When Teresa looks back on her life she would tell the young girl inside of her to be grateful and appreciative with each step. “Embrace and enjoy the here and now,” a principle that is often forgotten. She encourages others to live their purpose and mission in life, asserting that we are all here to serve and love others. Teresa’s ambition, empowerment of others, and pursuits to be true to herself makes her the epitome of the U Blush Woman.  She recalls, “Growing up I always thought it was a problem because I was interested in so many different things. I was always disappointed I couldn’t find just one thing I could focus on” – a feeling we at U Blush know all too well.  Teresa’s ability to be true to all the facets of herself by engaging in multiple passions is a recipe you can use in “becoming the best version of yourself.”

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