MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — Hailei Beckwith is the Monroe teen who inspired Monroe Mayor Friday Ellis to proclaim November 29th as Young Entrepreneurs Day. On October 3, 2021, Beckwith won the Miss Monroe’s Outstanding Teen Pageant.

“It was an amazing experience,” Beckwith said. “We prepared for the pageant in less than a week. And I didn’t think I was going to win, but I’m so grateful for the opportunity and I’ve just been promoting my platform and making sure that I’m doing everything to better the city.”

According to Beckwith, the Miss Monroe’s Outstanding Teen Pageant Executive Director, Gaundhi Hays, contacted her mother Shonya Gipson-Paige, and asked if Beckwith would want to compete. At first Gipson-Paige, thought Beckwith had a lot going on and wouldn’t be able to participate, but she eventually said yes.

“It would look great on my resume and be a fun experience,” Beckwith said about deciding to compete. “And I ended up winning.”

The Miss Monroe’s Outstanding Teen pageant was Beckwith’s first time participating in a pageant.

“It was stressful because I was trying to prepare within a week. I had my dance coach come up with a dance for me, because that’s my talent, and my mom would run through interview questions,” Beckwith said. “But I was not prepared for it at all. I was like I’m just going into this just to have fun, not thinking I’m going to win, because I wasn’t prepared, but it was a fun experience.”

Beckwith enjoyed dancing in front of the judges and the interview session because she got to be herself. After winning her first title she’d have another chance to compete in a pageant on Friday, April 8, 2022. She placed in the top 10 of the Miss Louisiana’s Outstanding Teen Pageant.  

“It felt amazing. I was not expecting that at all,” Beckwith said. “But my favorite thing was just getting to know the girls.”

According to Beckwith, by participating in the Miss Monroe’s Outstanding Teen Pageant participants get the chance to make life-long friends. Her platform was young/teen entrepreneurship, something that Beckwith has four years of experience with. Beckwith owns LoveLit candles, which she founded at 13-years-old.

“I just wanted to inspire other teens and young entrepreneurs, that way they can have a business of their own,” Beckwith said. “I wanted to tell them you don’t have to do your nine to five jobs. You can be creative. You can have your own business and you can be your own boss.”

Beckwith visits local schools to talk with younger students and tries to influence them to become young entrepreneurs, and she also encourages other young people to become business owners. Her parents inspired her to start her business.

“I just wanted something of my own,” Beckwith said. “I believe in generational wealth, and I wanted to have something to leave behind for my kids.”

Prayer, having her mom by her side and family support got Beckwith through the stressful experience.

 “I just want them to know that you can do it no matter what,” Beckwith said about what she wants other young girls to know about her experience. “I never thought I was going to make it this far, but I persevered, and I had an amazing village, my family was amazing and just do what you love to do.”

Beckwith is a junior student at Neville High School. After graduation she wants to become an Attorney. She does want to participate in pageants in the future.

“When you do something that you love to do it’s never considered a job,” Beckwith said. “Always remember to stay in your own space and not worry about what other people are doing and stay true to you.”

Gipson-Paige said that she was excited and happy for her daughter.

“She has done a lot in such a young span of time, to say that she’s 17, she’s accomplished a lot more than most people my age have accomplished,” Gipson-Paige said. “I’m very proud of her accomplishments, her tenacity to keep going, despite any adversities that she may have. I can’t wait to see the path that God continues to take her on.”

She plans to start a non-profit for youth entrepreneurs, and partner with Coach DJ Davis, author of Just Run the Play, to start youth seminars.

“I want to start a nonprofit organization that helps kids register with the state, that way they are a legit business, and they are paying taxes, which boosts the economy,” Beckwith said.

Beckwith’s vision is for the City of Monroe to designate space for kids to sell their products at a reasonable price. This vision is part of her platform and her efforts to make the city better.

“By getting more kids involved within the city. I know that Mayor Ellis wants to revamp downtown, but some parts of downtown I want to have just sectioned off for kids,” Beckwith said. “Because we want kids to be able to stay in Monroe. We want kids to say, ‘Well I built this,’ and be able to show the kids in their family. If they pour something into Monroe, I feel like that will make them stay.”

Beckwith recently hosted the Northeast Delta Human Services Authority Opportunity Zone Virtual Youth Summit. To keep up with Beckwith follow her on social media and visit her websites listed below:

  • Facebook: @lovelitcandlesbyhailei
  • Instagram: @lovelitcandlesbyhailei
  • TikTok: @lovelitcandlesbyhailei
  • Facebook: @missmonroesot2022
  • Instagram: @missmonroesot2022
  • Website: www.missmonroesot2022.carrd.co