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Hanford West student named ambassador



On a trip to Los Angeles to play in a softball tournament, Hanford 15-year-old Mikayla Contreras found out that her favorite dress brand had just opened its first store.

Before heading home, she decided to stop by the store to look at dresses for her high school formal.

That trip to the store led to more than a dress; it was the first step to modeling for the brand.

Contreras, who just finished her sophomore year at Hanford West High School, was just named Jovani Fashion’s High School Ambassador after entering the competition on a whim.

She’ll help promote the brand through social media and have her photo on the outside of the store. She’ll also go on an all-expenses paid trip to Atlanta to model in fashion shows for two weeks, which could lead to other chances to model.

When Contreras was at the store that specializes in dresses for events such as proms, wedding and evening wear, a person from the store’s staff asked her who she modeled for. She told them that she wasn’t a model but was informed of a contest the brand was having to find a high school ambassador in the greater Los Angeles area.

Contreras decided to enter for fun, entering a headshot, body shot and a short essay on why she’d be a good pick.

She found out later that she came across as as the girl next door while other entrants included beauty pageant winners.

“I told them I don’t live in L.A. and that I’m just a normal girl,” Contreras said. “I play sports. I just did it to see what would happen.”

Contreras, who plays volleyball, soccer and softball at Hanford West, later received an email that she was one of the finalists.

Finalists started to share info about the brand by word of mouth and social media with them showing off some of their dresses. There was also a fashion show where she had to practice walking a runway.

Not having done it before, she practiced through repetition like she would for any of the sports she plays.

“I was worried I’d trip,” Contreras said. “It was something out of my comfort zone.”

On her Instagram, Contreras got involved with different parts of the community by going to city council, police and administrators at school.

On a trip down to try on dresses and to take photos for her page, Contreras was surprised to find out that she had won. she was given a bouquet of flowers and a sash.

Tiphanie Mkniff, who is the manager of Jovani’s Los Angeles store, said Contreras stood out for her work on social media and was the best choice.

“We chose her because she put so much effort into the contest,” Mkniff said. “She was by far the most dedicated and had a fantastic attitude.”

Mkniff said the ambassador program aims to help the winner increase confidence and work on such skills as public speaking while bringing awareness to the company.

Contreras’ mom, Jodi Lopez, said she hopes it helps Contreras come out of her shell and become less soft-spoken.

“I hope it helps her with her confidence,” Lopez said. “Kids aren’t nice sometimes. I think it’s something she can be happy about. If I didn’t think it was a good thing, I probably wouldn’t have let her do it. When we met the owners of the company, you could feel the love of that family.”

Contreras was also offered a job at the store for the summer and will go to Los Angeles for the rest of the summer after her return from Atlanta.

Because her travel softball team plays mostly on the weekends in Los Angeles, she’ll be able to go from one to the other. She will stay with Mkniff while she works at the store.

Contreras is looking forward to heading to Atlanta, where if she does well, she might find more modeling opportunities, perhaps even in places such as New York.

“I’ve only flown to Oregon before,” Contreras said. “To go across the country by myself will be a good experience.”

Contreras doesn’t know how long she’ll be able to model, but wants to see how far she can take it.

She said she still hopes to land a softball scholarship and plans to keep playing.

“That’s what I love, so I’ll always make time for it,” Contreras said. “(The modeling) is something you can’t do in Hanford.”Read more at:cocktail dresses | cheap prom dresses