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     For the past 10 years Mona Powell has been reaching out to the women of Fayetteville, both as a mentor and as an example. She started her own business in 1996, and has been an advocate of professional women ever since. In that time, her premier educational and outreach effort, the W.O.M.E.N.’s Expo, has become not only a resource for, about and by women, but it has also become an event that is about the community. On Friday, May 8 from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. and Saturday, May 9 from 10 a.m. - 1 p.m. at Cross Creek Mall.
    {mosimage} It is an obvious boon for the vendors, because this expo does more than provide a space in which to sell merchandise.
     “The reason we have the expo is so that women in business can gain exposure. We come together every year to pool their marketing money,” said Powell. “Most shows they just set up their space, they pay their fee, they go out and they sell and they go away. We don’t do that. With us we guide them every step of the way. We show them how to vend, how to deal with their customers and how to sell.”
     A traditional Mother’s Day weekend endeavor, the expo has fun and exciting activities planned with moms and daughters in mind.
     “Because we do the grand tribute to mom we get a lot of moms coming out with their daughters in tow,” said Powell. “just to come out and spend a fun weekend with their daughters.”
     This year is no exception, in fact, there is a new twist this year for the folks that come out and participate.
Powell is really excited about her special guest who is coming to join Fayetteville in its 10th year of celebrating girl power. HGTV’s design star Kim Myles is going to be on stage Saturday afternoon. She will spend an hour talking about design looks for less, followed by a question and answer session. Submit your design dilemma to the Color Me Angel web site Questions will be chosen ahead of time and presented to Myles at the seminar. While you are online, register to win a $1,000 home office makeover. Along with the cash, the winner will receive a consultation with Myles, so send in your pics, the deadline to register is May 1.
     The treasured favorites are still on the agenda. There will be a mother/daughter team scavenger hunt. The winner gets a prize package valued at $200. The list will be available online at at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday. Meet back at the finish line Saturday at 3 p.m. with the assigned items to see who the wins. Got talent? The mother/daughter talent show is Friday at 5 p.m. near the food court. Saturday has a fashion show at noon with the theme — Great Style on a Budget! The silent auction begins at 1 p.m. and the mother daughter look alike contest starts at 2 p.m. Go to the Web site to register. There is a $200 prize package for the winning team. There will be 71 vendors at Cross Creek Mall ready to wow you with their products and ideas.
     Don’t forget, 10 a.m. on Friday......see you there.


     UCW: In our community a big part of this expo is about women taking chances, following their dreams and striving to be successful. Do you have any words of wisdom for these ladies putting themselves out there and basically stepping out on faith?
     KM: Definitely, I have a couple of things to say about that. I think the most important thing is really believing in yourself. Sometimes that is hard to do. You are going to come up against road blocks, you are going to come up against haters, doubters, things that you don’t expect to come up that might be stumbling blocks for you. It is really important in all of those moments to find your center, focus and be your own best cheerleader. If the world is telling you ‘No you can’t’ you’ve got to be the one to say ‘Yes I can.” Perseverance is 90 percent of the battle. There is always talk about talent and drive and opportunity, and yes all of those things are important, but the most important thing is showing up over and over and over again. Never giving up is really one of the keys. If you do that then what you have to offer the world has a chance to shine because you are always stepping up to the plate to put it out there. That can be hard. It can be draining. Its got its ups and downs, but there is no feeling like even the smallest success, and you string a few of those moments together and pretty soon you look up and it’s like “Wow, look where I am!”
     UCW: On your path to success was there a woman in your life who really inspired you?
     KM: I have a few. I am a woman who loves women. I have a very strong relationship with my sister and my girlfriends, my grandmother. I enjoy the company of women and I think sisterhood is really, really important. I was lucky to have a few influences in my life. My grandmother and my mother both had the patience and willingness to nurture my artistic side. My grandmother is a seamstress, my mother is an artist. They handed down that DNA and really nurtured it. Also Oprah: huge inspiration. What I really connected to with her is that she always wore her heart on her sleeve and she continues to. I liked her brand of fearlessness because it didn’t feel aggressive it just felt very authentic — like her. And then I am always inspired by Coco Chanel. What I love about Coco’s story is that she is a self made woman. She was orphaned, she was left to her own devices and she really had to depend on her own inner compass and her own sense of self. She is a testament to what can happen when you never lose faith no matter what life throws at you. I am inspired by strong women, smart women, women who go for it, whatever that is.
     UCW: Things are pretty tight all over financially. I was curious what is your favorite low cost design tip? If someone says to you I’ve got $50 and a long weekend, what do you tell them?
     KM: I always fall back on two things. One and it’s a broken record; but there is a reason: paint. It always works. If you have a weekend and you have friends paint is an instant high impact thing that costs about $40. You can make a huge difference for your home, but also what I love about paint is color therapy. You can make a huge difference in how you feel in your home. Paint is always my number one tool, it is not the sexiest, but it is fool proof. The other thing I love is window treatments. I see it all the time on my show where people are totally missing an opportunity. Would you go to a black tie event where you’ve got the gown and you’ve got the shoes without a stitch of jewelry and no bag? It just completes the look. For so many, windows are an after thought. I feel like if you have a window the simplest thing to do — again for under $50 – is buy two new panels…..and I feel like no matter where the window is on the wall you never see me hanging lower than the ceiling. I always hang at the ceiling and the curtains always go to the floor. That is adding grandeur and luxury and it is acting as a beautiful frame it is not just an afterthought. It gives the room a finished look. It is a small price to pay for something that has huge impact.
     UCW: Is being a design star everything you thought it would be – is it as fun as it looks?
     KM: It is as fun as it looks girl! It is so much fun I can’t even tell you. It has been a year and a half since I won. The time has flown. It is everything I dreamed it would be and more. It has come with challenges of course. But I just feel so blessed I get to do what I love every day of my life. That is what I am hoping to say at this expo is that not a lot people get to do what they love and I want to say that we all have the option if we choose to pursue it. We all have that little voice and it is all about finding that and getting quiet enough to hear it and then just honoring it.
     UCW: What do you to do recharge and relax?
     KM: I am on hiatus right now which is really fun. It is how I am able to come to the expo. My schedule improved immensely this third season. The first two it was crazy and hectic — 80 hour weeks…really insane and very intense. I didn’t see my friends, I didn’t see my family. I barely saw my husband. That is not a complaint, that is just part of getting your dream. I feel like it was worth it. I had a lot to learn and it was really important to be dedicated to that. I feel like it was an investment. Now I am like ‘Okay, I know what the show is. I know how this life works.’ I have more time to hang out with my friends, have dinner with my husband and go to my exercise class. I have a life again which feels really good and important.
     UCW: On your show this season, what can we look forward to?
     KM: I feel so proud of this season. I feel like this season I am firing on all cylinders. I have a fabulous team that I am working with and talented people. I have all the right support. It just is a lot of fun — a lot of fun. I think what you are going to see is more documentary style so there is a lot more behind the scenes like real conversations with me or conversations with the homeowners. It is much more really and you still get the great make-overs and you still get the great projects except it is a lot more fun. You get to see the camera men in the background; you kind of get to be a fly on the wall which I think is really cool for the viewers. The makeovers are eye popping and beautiful. I just feel so proud. It is a lot of fun this season. We have a new day; we are on Friday nights at 8:30 p.m.
     UCW: What is something you wish people knew about you?
     KM: No one has ever asked me that let me think….Maybe they know it and maybe they don’t but I would love for people to know just how much joy I am taking in getting to have this job. I am getting to live the fantasy but I really feel like the heart of it for me is that I get invited into people’s homes. That is a big deal. They trust me enough to say “Hey Kim, come into my house. I am going to open my house to you and these 30 people. Take over the house”…It is huge. They are so gracious and so willing to trust me. I am always so overjoyed and honored that people feel like they can trust me enough to let me help them that way. That is not a skill that I have myself. It is such a gift that I am given each time I am invited in. I hope that is part of what makes it so fun to watch.
     UCW: Do you miss being a hair dresser?
     KM: I do! I do! I do! One of the reasons I think I feel really blessed in my life…I have had a couple of moments — light bulb moments — where I had an epiphany of what I want to be when I grow up and one of these moments was when I became a hairdresser. I had been doing my aunties hair and anyone who would sit still my whole life. I cut my dad’s hair starting when I was 12, but I didn’t get my license until I was almost in my 30s. I loved being a hair dresser; it is the same thing I love about my job now. I love having people trust me to listen to them and hear them and to guide them into their best selves. I used to donate two of my haircuts a week when I was working in New York to locks of love and you meet all kinds of people, people who would not have been able to afford me any other way. Yeah, I miss it, I do. It was a good job. It was something I loved and now this is one of my loves. That is why I think this expo is important. No matter how big or how small or trivial that dream may seem, if you go for it you will probably get it .It is always there for you if you choose to pursue it.

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