Eight-year-old Eden Victoria Shannon, of Kingston, was crowned Little Miss Massachusetts on March 27 at a pageant held at the Double Tree Hotel in Danvers.
A student at Kingston Elementary School, Eden has been in five pageants since she was 7, and won best dressed twice. Her mom designed her clothes, and it reawakened her talent for fashion design.
Eden’s mother, Katy Shannon, is a bus driver and her father, Victor Shannon, works for the U.S. Postal Service. Pageants were never on their radar. At age 6, Eden watched beauty pageants and asked her parents if she could give it a try.
“It started when I saw a cartoon of a Barbie pageant and I thought it would be so much fun,” Eden said.
Her mom was not immediately onboard.
“I didn’t even want her to compete, but it was something Eden really wanted to do,” Katy Shannon said. Over time, they explored contests, and decided on East Coast Pageants.
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“It’s all natural, girls under 12 don’t wear makeup, and she’s made a lot of friends,” Katy Shannon said. “It’s fun fashion and a combination of walking and poses. It’s boosted her confidence.”
But it was her 46-year-old mother who received an unexpected confidence boost.
Pageant clothes reminded Shannon of her former work in style and fashion.
“Ever since I was 8, I wanted to be a fashion designer. I studied for it,” she said.
Gary “Vee” Vaynerchuk, a major social influencer in fashion, was a friend when she attended Mount Ida College in Newton.
“He modeled for one of my collections in college,” Shannon said.
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After graduation, Shannon moved to California and worked as a TV stylist on the soap operas “General Hospital” and “Port Charles” and independent films.
When her brother died, Shannon moved back to Kingston, worked in visual merchandising, and married.
“After Eden was born, I had to find something that worked for her schedule so I’m a bus driver now,” she said.
Eden’s pageants sparked Shannon to resume her own dream of fashion design.
“Everyone wore the same thing, it was so formula,” Shannon said. “I started thinking, I could do better stuff. Let’s do something different, so I did and all of sudden I was awakened. Something in me came alive again.”
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In both the East Coast Pageants’ Christmas (2020) and State pageants (2021), Eden was first runner-up and won best dressed. Fun Fashion is the segment where contestants wear clothes that best express their personalities. Last year, Eden’s costume was a mix of pink sparkles, feathers and leopard print, an original design created by Shannon.
Eden said she has no fear of taking the stage to compete.
“It’s about making friends and having fun,” she said. “I got more motivated to just be myself in front of the judges. I didn’t really have stage fright. The person who had stage fright was my mom.”
Shannon laughed and said, “It totally was not my thing. I’m the opposite of those stage moms. I’m like, if you don’t win, I don’t care, I just want you to have fun.”
Eden seems like an old soul. Her favorite singers are Dolly Parton, Blake Shelton, Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson. She likes to sing but wisely observed, “For some reason, there’s a difference between posing onstage and singing.”
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This July, Eden will compete in the National East Coast Pageant in Parsippany, New Jersey, with other state winners, and Shannon is working on her wardrobe. The ballgown will be bubblegum pink with ruffling on top. For the Fun Fashion category, a “wild” design will feature 3D rosette fabric, and for the Patriotic Wear portion, Eden will wear a red, white and blue camouflage outfit.
“She trusts me and loves whatever I do,” Shannon said.
Mother and daughter share a journey that has brought out confidence and creativity in each of them.
Milton resident Suzette Martinez Standring writes Bright Side, a good news column featuring information on the South Shore and the people who live here. If you have an idea for a future column, reach her at [email protected]. Also, visit www.readsuzette.com.
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