“From Miss America to New York City Entrepreneur”

Mallory's crown pictureIn 2013, Mallory Hytes Hagan, was the first Miss America since Vanessa Williams to represent the state of New York before winning the coveted title of Miss America. Since then, she has taken New York City by storm through leadership, service and a thriving small business, Define, LLC.

Growing up in a small Alabama town, Mallory was raised in her mother’s dance studio where she grew up performing around the south east of the United States, and earning scholarships to New York City conventions. Earning the opportunity to explore New York, Mallory quickly fell in love with the bright lights of the Big Apple at the tender age of 12.

Mallory’s mother and grandmother were involved in the Miss America Organization, and at 13, encouraged her to compete in the Miss Teen Alabama pageant. As they say, the rest is history. Eleven years later, Mallory stood on the Planet Hollywood stage in Las Vegas Nevada and heard the words, “Miss…New York!” as they called her name as the winner.

Miss America is an organization that is primarily focused on Scholarship and Service. As such, Mallory traveled nearly 20,000 miles a month as a National Ambassador for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, Artistry by Amway cosmetics, Joseph Ribkoff fashions and many more. In addition to promoting several brands and the importance of Girls in S.T.E.M. with the Department of Education, the subject that Mallory was most drawn to sharing was her family history of Child Sexual Abuse. As Miss America, her platform and call to action for the public was “Stop It Now: Child Sexual Abuse.”

“Many of the women in my family were sexually abused, and when given the opportunity to champion for a cause that not only affects 1 in 6 children in the United States, but also impacts children all over the world, I just couldn’t pass up that opportunity,” she said. Working with organizations such as The International Center for Missing and Exploited Children, Prevent Child Abuse America, and Child Abuse Prevention Program, Mallory opened up the conversation about child abuse, prevention, and education. With the National Children’s Alliance, she traveled to Washington, D.C. numerous times to lobby with Senators such as Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on behalf of Child Advocacy Centers all over the United States.

It is clear that Mallory’s ambitious spirit contributed to her capturing the Miss America title and that spirit holds true three years later. In 2014, she Co-Founding the Personal Branding business, Define, LLC. with her business partner, Claire Buffie. “Define’s mission is to collaboratively reveal an individual’s unique strengths, help them express those strengths in an interview room or online, and then craft a solid marketing plan for a cohesive brand image.” To date, these young entrepreneurs have serviced over 65 clients in more than 35 states.

A strong proponent of the entrepreneurial spirit, Mallory wishes to see more young women achieve whatever goal it is they set have for themselves. “As a woman entrepreneur, the most important thing to me is to be a mentor and offer a leg-up to the women around me, but it’s also important to see women become more courageous in their goals. In the workforce, we talk about needing to see more women in the CEO position, and more women championing for equal pay, but if we don’t stop competing(in an unhealthy way) and start helping one another, we’re going to stay on this hamster wheel of oppression.” She says her mission to young leaders, and specifically women, is to “start celebrating others and their accomplishments” — as Margaret Thatcher said, “The spirit of envy can destroy; it can never build and we have to start remembering that the quicker we learn that lesson, the better off we will be.”

Speaking of women, Mallory is a supporter of Hillary Clinton in the upcoming election, and her continued strength in “a man’s world.” In looking to the future, she expressed a desire to see a candidate that puts environmental issues around the world at the forefront of their term in office. While she doesn’t feel that Hillary has spent enough time discussing the global ecosystem of environmental issues, she does feel that Clinton’s experience, strength and position on important issues like K-12 public education, campus sexual assault, national security and LGBT rights. “There is this push in America to remove the ‘politics’ from politics, but I think experience and a strong sense of Foreign Policy requires someone who ‘has been there and done that.”

As a young woman who has, in her own way, ‘been there and done that,’ we asked Mallory how her being Miss America 2013 and an entrepreneur have changed her…

“I would like to say that I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without the journey I took while competing in the Miss America Organization, but I have been this same, driven, spunky and outspoken woman my whole life. Participating in the Miss America Organization taught me how to create relationships, network and build friendships. As I continue to travel and speak about Child Abuse Prevention and Women’s Issues, I continue to change. Every person I come in contact with, every story that I hear and every city that I visit impacts me in some way – it’s truly remarkable.”

Profile: Be Kind. Be Courageous. Be you. became Mallory’s mantra during her reign as Miss America 2013 and continues to be her philosophy on life today. Growing up in Alabama, Mallory was heavily involved in the arts through dance, theater, show choir and more. At the age of 19, she packed up and moved to New York in an attempt to figure out what she wanted to accomplish. Ultimately, she was accepted to The Fashion Institute of Technology as an Advertising, Marketing and Communications student; a path that, among other things, ultimately helped position her for success in the Miss America Organization.

Through her participation in MAO, she found her passion in advocacy, most specifically for the education of the nation in regard to Child Sexual Abuse. In an effort to share her family’s story, Mallory has been featured on national television shows such as Good Morning America!, The View and The Wendy Williams Show, as well as hundreds of local news sources. Now, she continues to work with several national and local organizations such as The New York Foundling, Child Abuse Prevention Program, Prevent Child Abuse America and Safe Horizon. Outside of her personal platform, Mallory also volunteers with several other service programs such as City Chicks 4 Charity, God’s Love We Deliver, and No Kid Hungry. While serving as Miss America, Mallory was recognized as an “Influential Woman” at the 2013 Forbes Women’s Summit. Today, she is utilizing her Miss America Scholarship and continuing her education at FIT as well as pursuing opportunities to influence others through media platforms.