Hoboken resident Alexandra Lakhman participated in The Miss New Jersey USA 2022 pageant which took place from April 1st-3rd, 2022 at the Hilton Hotel in Parsippany, NJ. There were 120 beautiful and accomplished women from all over NJ vying for the crown – and our girl brought home the gold, or should we say crown? Alexandra, known to friends and family as Lexi, is a Digital Marketing Associate Manager at Newell Brands based in Hoboken and has her own fashion fitness brand called Flex By Lex.
You may recall our feature on Lexi back in June 2021 when she was preparing for The Miss New Jersey USA. She talked all about what inspired her to get into pageants, being a first-gen American with family roots in Ukraine and Latvia, and all of her favorite Hoboken go-to’s. Now we’ve connected with her to discuss her major win as Miss NJ USA! Read on for the details of this year’s event and how Lexi prepared and how she feels to represent her state in Miss USA 2022.
(Photo credit: Jessie Palumbo)
HG: What was this year’s experience like?
AL: The experience was a dream come true. This was actually my 7th time vying for the crown. I started competing in 2013 in the Miss New Jersey Teen USA competition and was lucky enough to be the first runner-up. I went straight into Miss and did that 5 more times, always placing somewhere in the top 5, besides one year where I placed in the semi-finalists. I was actually 1st runner-up 50% of the time that I competed, so I thought I had the first runner-up curse.
I came back last year after taking 3 years off, and again placed 1st runner up, so I didn’t know if I was truly going to come back after last year because I wanted to be done with competing in pageants. I wanted to close that chapter in my life and continue to grow in my career, get my MBA, and take on anything else life has to offer. I was really set on that until I saw posts about Miss NJ USA coming up in April, and I realized it hadn’t even been a year since the prior pageant (last year’s pageant was in the summer).
I decided to look past my stubbornness, because I did not want that to hold me back from a dream that I have wanted for a very long time, nor did I want to live life with any regrets, and after reflecting, I believed that once I aged out, I would always think “what if.” That being said, I entered the pageant last minute and I told myself this year I needed to just have fun, get to know the contestants, be myself, and be present. I was going to be “cautiously optimistic” about the outcome but was prepared to place somewhere in the top 5 again. Little did I know that I would win!
(Photo credit: Anthony M Gomez)
HG: How was it meeting the other contestants and planning the outfits + interviews?
AL: Meeting the women from all over NJ was probably one of my favorite parts because not only are they so empowering and from so many different cultural backgrounds (I myself am a first-generation Ukrainian American), but we all got to experience this special weekend together.
As for outfits, years prior I put a lot of thought and effort into my wardrobe. This year I did not overthink anything. I actually wore the same interview dress as last year, because I loved the way it looked and I felt confident in it. I loved the color red, so I got a swimsuit in that color. And coincidentally, I also bought a red gown. But it was purely based on the fact that it had a slit and was not heavy, so it was going to be easy to walk in on stage.
The anticipation of waiting for the interview is where nerves can come into play, but I put my headphones in and kept listening to music. I was at such a calm. The judges were so nice. I got to talk to them about my story of this being my 7th time competing and wanting to inspire others to never give up on their dreams and being involved with Cure SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) as the Communications Chair for NJ, an organization that holds a big place in my heart because my brother is diagnosed with this progressive physical disability and my hopes to continue my advocacy throughout my reign and use my voice to encourage those around me to advocate for what they believe in.
They also asked me about my favorite holiday, favorite TV shows, what success means to me, what is something that most people wouldn’t know about me, and how do I mentally prepare for an important event in my life – yes, I know not many people can say they can remember exactly what was asked in an interview… but I sure did!
(Photo credit: Anthony M Gomez)
HG: What did you do to prepare locally?
AL: I did a lot! All of these small businesses are equally so important to my win, and I am so grateful to have them as my sponsors. Studio L of Hoboken is where I practiced my swim and evening gown walk. Without them, I would not have been as confident in my stage presence. Blush Tan sponsored my cryo-toning and cryo-facial, and spray tan! They truly got me stage-ready. Project Sculpt and Deliciously Fit are where I would work out and get my meals from, and they kept me fit in the most healthy and positive way. Bond Beauty Group sponsored my hair styling for both orientation and interview. I got to work with the talented stylists Brooke Bogle and Viviana Ramos. True passion and talent from these ladies. As for makeup, Sydney Scavello, otherwise known as Beauty By Syd, and Jackie Pagano, known as Utopian Beauty, both makeup graduates from the Artist Makeup Academy, also located in Hoboken, glammed me for orientation and interview. These artists are so talented and it was an honor getting to be their canvas! Finally, I received a manicure/pedicure from 718 Beauty Bar for both orientation and pageant weekend. They treated me like absolute royalty. I wanted to thank all my local sponsors for believing in me and being there for me.
Outside of Hoboken, I got my hair colored by Milana of Milana Salon Manalapan, my gown was from Castle Couture, and Vanilla Sky gave me some key pieces for my outfits to wear during the weekend throughout rehearsals. Again, thank you so much to all of my sponsors! I could not have done this without you!
(Photo credit: Jessie Palumbo)
HG: How did it feel to win?? Walk us through the moment your name was called and you were crowned Miss NJ USA!
AL: Honestly speaking, this moment still does not feel real. I feel like I am dreaming and I never want to wake up from this dream! At the moment when there were two of us left standing, I was prepared to be called the first runner-up. I was so used to being first runner-up and was convinced I had the first runner-up curse. This moment came as a sense of shock and I still am feeling that way.
HG: Where did you/are going to celebrate locally?
AL: The entirety of the celebration is yet to be determined as I am writing this since it has been less than 72 hours since my crowning! As far as I know, my boyfriend and family are throwing me a party this Sunday, 4/10, in our apartment’s lounge! It will be with close friends and family, but he has kind of left me in the dark about this and just wants me to “show up and be surprised.” As for a local event open to the general public, I am more than open to that! I have always envisioned a parade to celebrate this kind of win. Hint, hint to anyone reading who can help make this happen!
(Photo credit: Damelio Cosmetics)
HG: What was your biggest takeaway from this experience?
AL: That’s a great question. Given that this was my 7th time, and I started competing at 17 years old, I think this experience in itself has helped shape the young woman that I am today (I am 26 years old). The preparation and competition challenge me mentally and physically to not only be the best version of myself but also have taught me skills that I will carry with me forever. I have gained interview and public speaking skills, poise, and confidence, and ultimately throughout my journey, discovered my ultimate mission, which is to encourage those around me to never give up on their dreams, to believe in themselves, and to know that they are absolutely worthy.
HG: Tell us what the next steps are as far as the upcoming pageants + what we can all expect!
AL: Well… I AM GOING TO MISS USA!!!!!! It’s a nationally televised pageant, in which the winner then goes on to represent the USA at Miss Universe! The date and location have not been announced yet, but I promise you as soon as I find out, I will let you know! I truly thank everyone for reading and for your support. It has been quite the ride.