Pageant Season is upon us and I must say – it’s been exciting. For the first time I served as the Judges Liaison for Miss Texas Plus America and the Texas American Elegance Pageant Systems. When I was able to sit and chat with my Sister Queens I was reminded of my own Chronicles and quite a few Pageant Secrets… after wiping away all of the tears of laughter and joy it got me to thinking about my own Journey. As such it only seemed fit that my very first Lessons Learned / Women Who Inspire blog post be about someone who was actually just that and critically instrumental in me being in a position to win the title of Miss Texas Plus America 2013.
I remember being on the fence about competing in the Miss Texas Plus America Pageant – I had already submitted all of the necessary information… I had already had my phone interview with Mrs. Nannette Watts and had begun the process of making the necessary payments to cover my fees. At this time I had already done some work for Chastity Gardner and was now working with her to come up with my looks. I had taken the Lessons Learned from Cherie Malvern and the Eta Psi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and did my best to prepare for my interview and on stage presentation. It seems that during that time the people that I was around just didn’t get IT - I was going to school and working/hustling… I surrounded by so many people but no one took the time to try to understand my vision, dreams and goals – I remember being lead to believe to have support, sponsorship and monetary support and when time came to collect there was nothing….
Shannon reached out to me after seeing my email address in an email blast from Mrs. Nanette Watts –I instantly felt comfort in knowing someone who was also competing. Shannon was a client with the PR Company I was working with the year prior. I no longer had any tides with that particular PR Company and it just so happened that from time to time we would connect and talk shop, business and support each others businesses and ventures. Shannon was my Angel – she made a list and made sure that I had packed everything imaginable. She knew of my situation and secured a Hotel room and dubbed me her roommate ( #Room622 / Room Six Duce-Duce). I didn’t have family there to support me the year I competed and was surprised when my best friend from College Ebony Owens popped in to act as our “Fonzworth Bentley” – keeping us organized, on time and making sure our room stayed clean. After an intense couple of days after preliminaries the funds did not come through for my finial payment and I thought all was over and I was surly disqualified.
Unbeknownst to me Shannon spoke with Ebony then Shannon rallied in the Lobby to other Queens, Contestants and Bystanders and came up with the funds so that I could compete Finials Night. After she came back into our room she threw the money on the Bed … She told me that I deserved to compete and that I deserved to win and that I needed to get ready because there was a crown waiting for me …. Not to mention during competition in the dressing room she snapped the crotch of my Leotard under my gown that I couldn’t reach due to the Body Magic I had on ….
She is known by many, misunderstood and feared by others. I affectionately call her “my Goody” or “my Goodness” The fact remains is that she indeed played a role in my own personal growth and development. Shannon is one of my Angels…. And without her acts of Love and Kindness I don’t know where and how things would have progressed. I know for a fact that she has fearlessly chosen to fulfill her life’s purpose and live her truth. Her work has indeed transformed lives for the better and her advocacy has brought awareness, hope, funding and protection for countless individuals in our communities across the nation. She is more than Hero … more than a Queen…
It is my hope that after readying my first Lessons Learned | Women Who Inspire Wednesday post you will come to Know, Love and Respect Shannon Gooden aka Goody as much as I do…
Question: What is your Full Name and or Alias?
My government name is Shannon Gooden, but my soon to be legal name is Goody Howard. When I used to perform spoken word, my stage name was OhMy GOODENess (based on my maiden name “Gooden”) and after a while people shortened it to “Goody” and it just stuck. I got married to an amazing man on NYE 2012 and my new last name became Howard. My husband met me as Goody and NEVER calls me Shannon, even in his vows, he said Goody LOL. I think Goody Howard has a nice ring to it and I decided to keep the monokre and make it my legal name. I plan on getting my doctorate in Human Sexuality and I want my advanced degrees to say Dr. Goody Howard.
Question: Where are you from?
I was born here in Dallas on 2.16.1980, but when I was 5 my daddy joined the Navy and my family moved to California. We moved almost every year when we were there so I’ve lived in almost every Navy town in the state. In 1993, my sister and I were sent back to Texas to live with relatives and focus on school. My sister hated it and moved back after 6 months, I stayed and I’ve been here ever since.
Question: What are some of your Hobbies?
I have LOTS of hobbies. I love to create! I do hair, style people for events/vacations/photoshoots/etc, event planning, and I love to actually execute the things I “pin” on Pinterest. I’m crafty and always making something. I love HGTV, DIY network and random trips to Lowe’s and Home Depot. I also love LIVE music and comedy. It’s pretty normal to catch me at the Improv or some hole in the wall music spot enjoying other people’s talents.
Question: What are a few things people may not know about you?
That’s a HARD one! I pride myself on being an open book. I feel that if someone is bold enough to ask me a question, I’m bold enough to answer it. But I guess the biggest thing that most people may not know about me is that I’m sensitive. I’m always laughing and smiling and making jokes, but it’s not that difficult to hurt my feelings. I’m a strong woman, and to me that means knowing when to express hurt and knowing when to ask for help. If someone I value hurts my feelings, I try to focus on why my feelings are hurt, so I can have a successful conversation with that person about it. I wholeheartedly believe that “Confrontation is the KEY to resolution”.
Question: Who/What inspires you?
WOW. I’m inspired by my past, my childhood…not because they were so awesome, but because I know that I’m blessed to have made it to a point in my life where “b.s.” I went through has been fertilizer for me to grow. People often use their demons and excuses as to why they’re not successful, I use mine as reminders of what I’ve overcome. My ThiThi (my mom’s older sister), my Gamma & Poppa (mom’s parents) and my Gammy (dad’s mom) all inspire me too. They are examples of lives well lived and are still enjoying and living their lives in a way that they can be proud of. To me, that’s all success is really, living in a way that your children can be comforted with the TRUTH of who you were when you’re no longer living.
Question: What is your community Involvement?
Community support is very important to me. I work with AIDS Walk South Dallas as a sponsorship liaison. I’m the Dallas ambassador for the Red Pump Project. I speak to young adults and teens about social media, social and sexual responsibility, professional presentation and genuine self esteem building. I work with any organization I can that allows me to reach out to men and women about how we communicate with and socialize ourselves and our children to be happy, balanced and productive people. I believe in giving people the tools they need to build the person they want to become. ..and ANY chance to that is where you’ll find me!
Question: What are some of your recent accomplishments?
Professionally, I just launched askGOODY.com and I’m pretty proud of that. It’s an online space that focuses on “Empowering through sexual exploration, education and awareness” which means I have sex FAQs, video demos for adult toys and accessories, access to my online adult store and ports for people to pay their booking fees to bring me out to their private events. I’m working on 2 books and finishing the foundation to launch my Goody Girlz (and Guyz), which will be consultants that will be doing parties for me. I also wrapped an askGOODY weekend in Memphis which included a coed toy party, an oral technique workshop and a strip tease class and I’m hoping to do a few more of those in other markets in 2016. Personally, my husband and I are expecting our first (and last) child together, I’m due in August 2015 and I’m super excited about that.
Question: What is the name of your business? Where are you located? How long have you been in business for yourself?
The name of my business is askGOODY.com. I’m located any and everywhere. The website, askgoody.com is the hub of my business and I will travel anywhere I’m booked to highlight the latest and greatest in adult accessories for men, women and couples. I’ve been in the adult toy industry for over 8 years and just rebranded the company into askGoody, prior to that it was called A Lady In The Sheets, but clients were having a hard time finding me online because they couldn’t connect GOODY (me) with A Lady In The Sheets….it was too far of a brand jump. So now, it’s askGOODY! You have a sex question? Ask GOODY! You want to host an adult toy party? Ask GOODY! You want to buy a stripper pole? Ask GOODY! It’s been great for business!
I provide services for men, women, couples, LGBTQ, churches, women’s groups etc. I host adult toy parties, teach oral technique workshops and offer strip tease classes. I also do speaking engagements on topics like sexual responsibility, being sex positive and what that means, HIV/AIDS topics, sex education and how adult toys can improve intimacy in a relationship. I run specials all the time, I offer discount codes for people that host parties with me so their friends can order directly from the site and they get credit for the sale. But in honor of your new endeavor, I want to offer 30% off the entire site for anyone that uses code RYD2015 for the entire year! I’m honored that you picked me to be featured and given the “unusual” nature of my business, I want to show my appreciation!
Question: How can people get in touch with you?
Oh that’s the easy part. I’m askGOODY on Facebook, Twitter and IG. They can also go to askGOODY.com and use the contact form to reach me and sign up for my newsletter. I can also be reached at askGOODY@gmail.com.
Question: What is the Motivation/Inspiration for your business/services?
When I started my business, I was a rep for a well-known “girls-night-in” organization and I was just trying to make some extra money. But I noticed that they were just trying to move products, not actually teach women about their bodies, how they work and how to get the most sexual pleasure from them. I wanted to focus on making sure people understood that satisfying sex is not a luxury…it’s a right! There were so many reps in my area that I started doing oral sex tips and strip tease moves as incentive for people to book ME and my clients were so excited that they said they’d pay for those classes without the toys. I talked to my aunt about finding my own toy vendor and my company was born! I love what I do and I get a great deal of satisfaction from knowing that I’m improving people’s lives, relationships and general confidence with what I offer.
Question: What are some of the challenges you have had to endure in your business and how have you overcome them? What about your personal life?
The biggest challenge that I face EVERY SINGLE DAY in my line of work is the resistance I get when people hear “sex toys”. Texas is the buckle of the Bible belt and the push back on anything sexual, let alone sexually empowering, is consistent! I feel that the stigma surrounding sex and the lack of accurate information about it is the key reason why things like unwanted pregnancy and epidemic levels of disease are still relevant. If we normalize the conversation about sex and sexual responsibility, it won’t be something that people are ashamed to discuss and therefore the transparency needed to have productive dialogue about the consequences and benefits of sex can flourish. That is my goal. I combat it, but speaking about sex in a professional and age appropriate way, using positive language and removing the tone of judgment from the dynamic. The result has been people having sex positive conversations that often lead to personal awakening.
Question: What are a few of your pet peeves?
My biggest pet peeve is people that always have an excuse why they can’t do something. I say that, because that used to be ME. I didn’t see it in myself until I realized how much I despised it in others. There is enough negative stuff in the world, don’t ever hold yourself back. Build yourself up! My other big pet peeve is negative language. I mean words that have negative feelings and stereotypes attached to them. For example: ghetto. When you hear the word ghetto, your mind immediately settles on a specific group of people. But when you say ghetto, what do you really mean? Do you mean poor, loud, obnoxious, rude, ignorant, angry? Then my suggestion is to use the words you mean in place of the word that is used as a blanket insult. It’s important that people express themselves in a way that there are no uncertain terms in their message!
Question: Are there any words of Wisdom/Advice you like to share?
I believe that confrontation is the key to resolution. You will hear me say this A LOT. I think confrontation gets a bad wrap. It’s not a bad thing, it’s not always negative. It can be a pleasant and positive experience too. Choose your language wisely and make sure you know what you’re really upset/hurt about and have a resolution in mind. If you’re just confronting a situation without a resolution, you’re just looking for an argument. Also, say what you mean and mean what you say. Nothing worse than a person that talks a lot but never really SAYS anything! Lastly, learn to root your confidence in things OTHER than what you look like or how much money you make. Root your confidence in things nobody can take from you like your sense of humor, your style, your intellect. Are you charming, charismatic, engaging, funny? Use those things to make you feel good about yourself. That is where genuine self esteem comes from, not in comparing yourself to others.
Question: Please provide any additional facts or commentary on any subject/topic you would like…
Read a book about something you like. Don’t let Facebook be the only book you read. Research the things you like to do in the city you live in. You’d be surprised how many awesome things are going on around you that just don’t get the press they deserve. SMILE at people. Give a genuine compliment to a stranger every day, something as simple as “nice shirt” can really brighten someone’s day! Don’t lie…unless your life or your freedoms are on the line, then go ahead (wink). Be the change you want to see in the world, so often we think we don’t matter, that we can’t effect change, but we can. If you want to make a difference, research to see if what you’re interested in is already being done, if it is…join them…if it’s not, start a movement on your own. Somebody should do something…YOU ARE SOMEBODY.
I’m still learning every single day, but one of the best things I’ve learned is to take time to take care of myself. I’m learning to let go of the superwoman myth and just embrace the amazing and not so amazing parts of myself. I’ve learned to stop comparing myself with other people and to define success for myself. It’s truly liberating to be able to be happy for others while working on yourself. Celebrate the ones you love in a genuine way…and work on your dream EVERY DAY.
Thank you so much Goody for your Inspiration, your Light, your Love and for sharing with us your #LessonsLearned