It came as no surprise to me that Karen Gee won the title "Mrs Australia" with all the focused hard work she put in for the contest but it was an unexpected delight to talk with her the next day and hear this passionate woman bursting at the seems with what she had achieved.
So amongst all the glamour, sparkle and excitement we caught up with Karen to find out what it was all like, how her little girl is taking on having a full size crown in the house and what comes next for the latest Mrs Australia.
Run us through the last couple of days leading up to the big event in Melbourne? Were you bursting with anticipation and trying to keep it contained? How were you going with it all?
To be honest, I felt very proud of what I had accomplished throughout the year, the amazing people I met, new friendships formed, a massive shift in my self confidence, all of this being very positive, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a few days prior by myself reflecting on the year and the achievements, this certainly helped me keep calm for the finals which was over two days.
A year ago, I would have doubted myself and felt intimidated by others, however it was not like this at all, in return for stepping out of my comfort zone throughout the year I gathered confidence and self esteem to believe in the value of myself.
What was the atmosphere like amongst the contestants once you were all together? Have you formed any special friendships from all sharing such a vibrant experience together?
I certainly did not put any expectation on anyone, so I enjoyed very much being surrounded by different personalities and backgrounds, it all came together nicely. There was definitely some nervousness in the room. We all found comfort in each other and shared stories of our experiences during the year. Each of the 15 finalists had put in a huge effort and should feel very proud of what they achieved personally.
So often the nervous energy surging through you can make memories of a specific time a bit muddled. How clearly do you remember being on stage with the other women and the announcement of your name for the title of Mrs Australia?
I remember very well being on stage, and yes definite nerves, I was certainly surrounded by beautiful women who had all worked very hard throughout the year and were all deserving of the crown.
I have to ask a really girlie question, what's it like having your own crown?
The Crown is absolutely stunning, I Love it and I am extremely proud to wear it, but having said this it does not define who I am. The crown is a recognised prize for the passion and dedication I have made to Mrs Australia and to Women of Australia - I am the representative and I take it very seriously. My focus moving forward is to have a solid action plan in place for Mrs Australia Group and the charities, use what I have built in the past year to make a bigger difference and inspire Australian Women to be involved.
How have your husband and children been with all the excitement and activity in the last few months? Does your little girl just see the glittering sparkle of your crown or does she have some idea of some of the work connected with it?
It is a change for the children. They have witnessed the passion, the dedication, the devotion I have solidly formed with Mrs Australia Group Project Dovetail and Women In Need Australia.
My family has very much been involved in some of the charity events I have held throughout the year. We held an Art Show this year and the children in Mauritius got the opportunity to paint their dreams on canvasses, my daughter Zali was so interested in what the children had painted, that she decided to paint one of her own, it was really beautiful.
It is important to me that the children understand why I support the two charities, and often I will ask them what they think about different events. I love having their input. My five children are familiar with Women in Need Australia and how it significantly helps women through educational programs and Project Dovetail helping disadvantaged children internationally and locally. Our Little Girl Zali loves the crown, but she is onto a new toy now, the Crown is old news to her.....
What do you hope your children with gain from this experience - having their mum out there being the change in the world she wants to see happen?
For them to believe in themselves and know that if you have a passion, dreams come true. Through hard work, appreciation of others and a love of something - you can do anything. I have also taught my children that everyone is special and have something unique about them - instilling values of inner beauty is very important, that way they are accepting of everyone in this world and make no assumptions of people's lives. No one is perfect.
You're working on a vision plan for the charities for the coming year, what's
involved in that process? Does a year feel long enough to get it all
No a year is not long enough for the vision I have- but I know one thing for sure it is going to be a year a growth and recognition. It has only been a short time since I was crowned Mrs Australia and my mind is constantly thinking of new things for the charities and Mrs Australia - great things. I am getting all my thoughts together at the moment, and am working on some wonderful events and alignments. Stay tuned.