We have 10 questions for a woman who celebrates her 10 year anniversary in the world of dutch beauty pageants: Katia Maes. If we from Miss Holland Now have to describe Katia in 3 words it would be: dedicated, passioned and successful. The way she balances her family life with the responsibilities she has as a national director, is something all beauty queens admire (part of a quote from Angela Visser at the Miss universe pageant 1989)
Although it is a busy time for national directors at the moment, Katia took the time to answer our 10 questions to share her experiences with us from the past 10 years.
Tell us something about the person Katia Maes.
I am a dedicated, openminded and mostly a persons who wants to give and help people.
My family is my First priority in life and life challenge. I have 4 little children in the age of 8-5-3-2 years. Every day is an adventure and discovery of new things. Children are amazing and our future but also a full time job.
Most people are not aware that I am from origin a Belgian Citizen and educated as accountant. I’ve worked in entertainment and tourism and been on very large stages. During my teen years I was modeling and did some pageants 😛
How did you get into the world of beauty pageants? Why did you decide to become a national director yourself?
My pageant World started as young girl. I was always watching the Miss Belgium contest on TV. I admired the woman behind this organization who passed away already some years ago, Mrs Cecile Muller. I got the chance to meet her and learn a bit more as I participated myself in the providence elections. As I grow into modeling and pageants I discovered lots of positive things which brought me wisdom and some kind of liberty. Belgium is very different from the Netherlands especially at the time when I was in my teen years and early young woman years. I experienced some things which I’ve promised myself. Once in my lifetime I will do my pageants and it will be transparant and fair play. Everyone deserves to get chances and show themselves! I’ve started my career with Miss Netherlands in 2005/2006 with Hans Konings which I am very thankful as he learned me many things national and international. After the election of Sherlyn Baas, former Miss NL 2005/2006 I got the opportunity to be director of Miss China Europe. This opened my eyes so much and I really admire the Chinese women. They really have to work hard and barely have freedom. So being in a pageant was a big deal for these women. I’ve learned a lot about their cultures and how Lucky we Europeans are in every single way.
Who was the first girl you send to an international pageant and what can you remember about that? What would you do different now and why?
I remember that as the day of yesterday. It was summertime, I was pregnant of my first baby and got an email from Jerome of the ERM org. in Singapore. Many months before I’ve done my application to become director, but did not hear anything back. Then when I received an email with the question to become director I was beyond happy. Of course first thing you think I need to organise a contest and scout girls, get sponsors,… but than I read the email again and saw I’ve got 1 week left to send a delegate to China. Miss TQI 2006 who could that be,…. I was training a Group of 6 girls and I’ve decided to send the best girl out of that Group. Analda Winkel, she was prepared as we were training already for 6 months but could she leave in one week? In two days time I’ve fixed visum, flights, photoshoot and entry forms and one week later she was off to China for a whole month.
I wouldn’t do anything different, time was short and no time to think about everything a thousand times. Never thought it was possible but I hold on to the fact I could and would do this. And this till today never changed.
As a native Belgian woman, you are now living and operating in the Netherlands. What is the difference between Belgian and Dutch beauty queens?
My goodness there’s a World of difference. Dutch women are direct and have all the same quote, just act normal than you already more than crazy enough! They love the jeans, its more or less a must have in every closet. They do not pay as much attention to their looks. Communication wise Dutch women are using your name instead of Mrs. Maes. Plus Belgians are lots more punctual than Dutch are. They listen very good and obey the people giving them advice. Dutch women want to have their opinions out and mostly want to have the last word.
Dutch women on the other hand are very successful in beauty pageants. More than Belgians are, why,….? I still figure that one out. In terms of outer beauty girls are mostly same, in terms of being a multi-cultured country also. I think Dutch girls dare lot more and they stand for what they are and after they are being coached they are more secure. Belgian girls always look for some kind of statement of being good enough.
How do you combine your motherhood, having a job and being a national director?
This is not always easy but as a mom I totally understand the parents behind the delegates. I always put myself in their shoes and consider how I would feel and act. This brings me to the fact I have a lot of patience with the girls and I teach/coach them.
I learn from the girls and from my children,… every day they make sure I am alert and driven to continue with nights of 3 hours of sleep in high season. Good planning and organization and a great business and partnership with Jean Marie vd Casteele and since two years now with Milou Verhoeks. It gives me more time to develop new projects and keeps me focused.
What are your 3 greatest accomplishments as a national director in the world of beauty pageants?
Hard one,… as greatest is see every girl grow into a young ambitious woman. Winning is very nice but more important than getting an international title is being a team where everyone has their tasks to let a young woman see there is more in the World than only glitter and glamour and you coach them to be different and become a young speaks-woman for many societies and groups. They build up friendships around the World, see cultures and believes, see poorness and levels of treatments,… this is a fortune to experience in a few weeks of time and is more valuable than winning any title in the World. Bringing some difference is a bigger accomplishment than winning any kind of title.
The latest one is winning Miss TQI 2015, after almost 10 years and winning Miss Tourism Sri Lanka International 2015, I am so proud of this achievement
The commitment, dedication of hard work, setting goals and achieving to win several prices with Nathalie den Dekker, she stepped into my World in 2009 and I am very very proud of what this young woman achieved, she really brought a difference in pageants in the Netherlands. She is an example of being a beauty inside and out and worked very very hard.
Same counts for my girls in Belgium,… even we still miss the hot spots we are working very very hard. For the native french speaking girls it is harder in Belgium and for this my biggest accomplishment in Belgium is we got foot in Walloon because of Gonul Meral. She is a very loved young woman.
Why do you think beauty pageants are not popular in the Netherlands? What could be your part in making them more popular?
I do not feel pageants are not popular in the Netherlands. Everywhere girls make an appearance they are very welcomed and treated very well. The young women are promoting pageants very well and teach the anti beauty critics to see it different and they are very good at it.
Would you like the Netherlands to be a big pageant country like Venezuela or the Philippines?Why or why not?
In the Netherlands nor somewhere else in Europe it is possible to be like Venezuela or the Philippines. We have our own identity and we do not put as much money into beauty pageants and courses like the girls over there are doing. Their parents are putting their whole fortune on their daughters and they are pushed at young age. We see the glamour side of this and kids are not forced to start at young age to be in beauty contests. Here kids go to school and get good education and are free to join pageants/contests when they are ready for it. At the level of sponsoring it would be nice if there are more funds like in Venezuela but without the force of being pushed into surgery and other course. Here in Europe girls are mostly natural beauties. Some of them had breast-implants and some hair-extensions and that’s fine. They are not rebuild from scratch.
(Nathalie den Dekker and Gonul Meral)
What will be your legacy to the dutch beauty pageant world?
Every little star is one to shine bigger.
For now my biggest compliment is,…. I am called the Osmel from Europe ☺
Osmel is the best pageant organizer from Venezuela and latina’s.
How about Katia in the next10 years?
I ll be 10 years older and doing exactly the same….. ☺
We would like to thank Katia for taking the time to answer our questions and we want to congratulate her on her first 10 year’s and wish her all the best of luck for the next 10, 20, 30,…. years to come….
photcredits: Photo Nathalie den Dekker: Ron de Wildt