A born and raised Jersey Girl and first-generation American, Alexandra Lakhman will be competing in the upcoming Miss NJ USA Pageant. The former Old Bridge resident – now Hoboken, is a Digital Marketing Associate Manager at Newell Brands based in town. After falling in love with eCommerce as a sophomore in college, Lexi launched her own fashion fitness brand called Flex By Lex. Read on to learn more about Lexi, how she’s preparing for the pageant, her brand, her new life in Hoboken, and more.
Hoboken Girl: Tell us a little about yourself.
Alexandra Lakhman: My dad came to the US from Ukraine and my mom immigrated from Latvia. Fun Fact: My first language was Russian and I didn’t learn English until I was 5 years old. I am from a fairly small town in Middlesex County – Old Bridge. I moved to NYC after getting accepted to the Fashion Institute of Technology. I lived in NYC for 6 years, ranging from Midtown, Fidi, and West Village. I recently moved to Hoboken, in June 2020, and I feel like I am back at home because the people here are so welcoming!
I am a Digital Marketing Associate Manager at Newell Brands, in the Hoboken office! I graduated with a Bachelors’s in Advertising, Marketing, and Communications and a minor in English. I fell in love with eCommerce as a sophomore in college which resulted in me launching my own Fashion, Fitness Brand called “Flex By Lex.” I had three inspirations behind this launch: 1. My brother 2. Fashion 3. Fitness. My brother, Joe, being the most important reason. Joe is diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2, a progressive muscle weakness disease. I wanted to make a difference in his life and the SMA Community. In doing so, I would take a portion of the proceeds and donate it to the non-profit organization, Cure SMA. As graduation approached, I ended this business because I needed to focus on finding a career. I accepted my first job offer from Gogotech as an eCommerce Brand Manager and continued to fall in love with the eCommerce industry, which brings me to where I am today – in the Digital Marketing space.
HG: How did you get into beauty pageants?
AL: I initially entered my first pageant as a way to gain more confidence in myself. I received a letter in the mail that someone recommended me to compete. At the time, I was being bullied in school so I felt like this would be an escape and a confidence booster. To this day, I have no idea who recommended me, but I am glad they did. I was and still am a firm believer that pageants have helped shape the confident woman that I am today. I have made it my mission to empower women to be confident in themselves.
HG: Tell us about some of your experiences in beauty pageants.
AL: My first pageant in the Miss Universe Organization was in 2013, where I competed for Miss NJ Teen USA. I can’t believe that was eight years ago. Coming from humble beginnings, my parents always encouraged me to work hard and pursue my dreams. As a result, I placed 1st runner up out of 80 contestants! I had aged out the following year, so I decided to go straight into the Miss category. Being persistent with my goals, I did not give up. Instead, I competed for three more years, placing in the top 5 out of 100 contestants (on average) each year. The organization’s tagline is, “Wish it. Dream it. Do it.” I have been living by this motto since the first time I competed.
HG: Tell us about the Miss NJ USA.
AL: There are three areas of competition – Interview, Swimsuit, and Evening Gown. The duration of the pageant is three days. The first day is the panel interview, the second day is the preliminary competition (where every contestant competes), and the third day is the finals. The last day is when the Top 15 will be revealed. Those contestants then recompete in their swimsuit and evening gown. The competition is then narrowed down to a top-five, where there is a final question and a final look. Then the winner is announced. Seems fast, and it is, but someone’s life changes in that short amount of time! The winner then goes on to represent NJ at Miss USA. NJ has yet to win the Miss USA Title! The state pageant typically takes place in the fall, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was delayed. The Miss NJ USA 2021 pageant will be held in Parsippany from July 30th – August 1st. I am so excited!
HG: You took 3 years off, what made you want to get back in the game for this specific pageant. What does it mean to you?
AL: Naturally, when you compete year after year, a break is necessary. When I decided to take a break, I was in my senior year of college and I knew I needed to shift my focus to finding a career. I am glad I did because I wouldn’t be where I am today – working for Newell Brands, specializing in Digital Marketing. Now that I am happy with my professional life, in my heart – I knew it was time for me to make a comeback. I had to be honest with myself, and I knew I would be upset if I didn’t give it one last try after many years of competing and coming so close each year. I always say it’s important to trust God’s timing and God has a plan for everyone. So if this plan is for me, then it will be my year! After taking 3 years off from competing, I am coming back stronger than ever with a message to inspire everyone to be consistent with their goals and encourage others to be confident in themselves. To me, this pageant means empowerment.
HG: What are you doing to prepare locally?
AL: Ironically enough, I have been supporting local businesses and they have been supporting me! From fitness goals to learning about macros to finding the perfect outfits, and feeling my best– the Hoboken small businesses have played a huge role in my preparation. I have been training with the coaches at Project Sculpt almost every day. I take a combination of group fitness classes, one-on-one training, and run-club once a week. I also have been eating perfectly portioned meals from Deliciously Fit! The meals range from chicken, fish, breakfast foods, and protein muffins…so delicious. I would say that my favorite part of the preparation is challenging myself in health and fitness. In terms of wardrobe, I’ve partnered up with AXD – the boutique is sponsoring an outfit for me to wear during pageant weekend. COVID-19 has truly opened up my eyes to the importance of supporting local businesses, so I have been coming into the store and helping model their trendy clothes for social media. I became friends with the girls who work there and I am so grateful the boutique is sponsoring an outfit for me. My favorite nail salon is the Nail Story 2. The ladies always take their time and I always leave feeling fabulous.
HG: What is it like competing? Walk us through the experience.
AL: The feeling is indescribable – magical. This competition is the prerequisite for competing at Miss USA or Miss Universe, two televised pageants, so imagine watching those events but on a slightly smaller scale. To me, I feel like I am on cloud 9. My favorite part is the interview. I think because I love to talk. Since I started competing as a teen, I believe the interview skillset assisted me with getting multiple internships and jobs. I always channel my inner pageant self when going on job interviews. But when I am on stage and I walk out in my gown, I channel the inner ballerina in me. I feel like royalty. And when I strut in my swimsuit, I feel like a Victoria’s Secret model, and that all my hard work at the gym and balanced diet has paid off. I own my moment. The most nerve-wracking aspect is waiting for the emcee to announce your name if you have made it into the top 15 or top 5. 30 seconds feels like 30 minutes. Some people may argue that the final question may be the hardest, and I used to agree with that, but over time, my weakness has become my strength. If I am lucky enough to make it into the top 5, I use this as a way to elevate who I am, what I believe in, and why I would make a great representative for NJ to compete at Miss USA. In other words, competing is magical.
HG: Who or what is your biggest source of inspiration?
AL: My brother and best friend, Joseph, is my biggest source of inspiration. At one years old, he was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), a genetic condition that causes muscle weakness and atrophy, in which he needs to use a motorized wheelchair to get around and needs assistance with daily needs. The doctors initially told my parents that he wouldn’t live past the age of 2. I was 7 years old at the time, so I didn’t really understand what was going on. Today, Joseph is 19 years old. He has beaten the odds and continues to inspire me and those around him to be positive.
Joseph has overcome many challenges in his life – but with each challenge, he overcomes it with a smile. I tell myself I need to be more like him. I moved back to my childhood house during the height of the pandemic. Joe, being immunocompromised, is very fragile to the unknown. Although my family and I had to be extra careful, I am forever grateful for the extra time that I got to spend with Joe. He really did teach me about appreciating the small things in life and continues to teach me so many valuable life lessons.
The Cure SMA organization provides support to families with SMA, raises funds for scientific research, and generates awareness. I decided to become involved with the organization as the New Jersey Communications Chair. We all have 1 goal – to cure SMA. If given the honor to be the next Miss New Jersey USA, I hope to bring to light what Cure SMA is and the role it plays in my life to a much larger audience.
HG: What is your favorite restaurant in Hoboken?
AL: Sirenetta. I love seafood.
HG: What is your favorite boutique in Hoboken?
AL: AXD. Love their selection!
HG: What is your favorite thing to do in Hudson County?
AL: Work out at Project Sculpt!
HG: Where do you go out with friends in the area?
AL: I love trying new restaurants. My goal, since I’ve moved here, is to try a new place in Hoboken every time we go out.
HG: What is something you think needs to come to Hoboken?
AL: This is a tough one. I love everything in Hoboken. There’s a great mix of different cuisines and family-owned, one-of-a-kind businesses. I think that’s what makes it so special, however, I would love for a Ukrainian or Russian restaurant to open because those are my roots!