Meet 2015 Mrs. South Carolina America Ronnetta Griffin
Posted: Feb 04, 2015 9:07 AM ESTUpdated: Feb 04, 2015 11:50 AM ESTBy Jamarcus Gaston, Reporter
We are joined in studio by 2015 Mrs. South Carolina Ronnetta Hatcher Griffin and her glam squad to tell us about her journey to the crown and her message for women. www.mrssouthcarolinaamerica.com
Febuary 1, 2015
Page 51 (e-issue)
Pageant Veteran and Entrepreneur Ronnetta Hatcher Griffin Embodies Style with Substance
by Stephanie Trotter // photography by Eli Warren
Click here for full article on the TOWN website.
If the reigning Mrs. South Carolina invites you to a laid-back breakfast, forgo the baseball cap and pilled-cotton, drawstring pants. Ronnetta Hatcher Griffin’s low-key casual serves as most ladies’ Sunday best. “My mother always told me to never leave the house without my lipstick on. Always put my best foot forward,” she shares, a gleaming smile popping with Chanel Rouge Allure. But before your mind makes the jump to self- absorbed pageant queen, look beyond the bling.
The 50-year-old Eastside mom is the modern- day Southern woman, that unique blend of grit and grace, sass and smarts, beauty and brawn: a mindset refined over generations and engrained at birth. “I think there’s a special ingredient Southern women have,” she explains. “There’s sincerity, sensitivity, a sense of caring. We have a deep sense of history, we’re soldiers, we’re caretakers, we’re fiercely loyal, and we feel an obligation to meet expectations. We behave and conduct ourselves with dignity, and we pick ourselves up and keep going. You don’t let things keep you down. Get over it and move on.”
The 5’7” dynamo started moving down the runway at age eleven for her first pageant. “My mother made my dress on the dining room table, a ruffled party dress for Little Miss Richland County. I was first runner-up, which ended up being my curse for much of my life,” she chuckles. That curse crumbled liked dried rose petals in 1991, when she was crowned Miss South Carolina. “That was one of the best years of my life because of the kids. I traveled the state talking to students about my struggles in school under my platform ‘Be a Winner for Life.’ I had corrective shoes, braces, headgear and a chin-cup growing up. A chin-cup! And I had to wear it to school!” she laughs. “They knew I could relate to the challenges they were facing.”
After 450 appearances, Ronnetta traded her rhinestone crown for a wedding veil and married undercover narcotics officer, Tom Griffin. “She immediately caught my eye, how could she not?” asks the lawman. “But I quickly learned she’s a living example of the cliché, as beautiful on the inside as the outside.” When Tom became a U.S. Secret Service agent, Ronnetta used the hard- earned Southern skill of survival to adapt to life north of the Mason-Dixon. “I had to put a damper on some of that Southerness. They made fun of my accent and personality,” she recalls. “I tried to still be me, but I toned it down because I didn’t want to be a laughing stock. You just can’t walk down the streets of New York smiling at everyone. Growing up in the South, we take outgoing friendliness for granted.”
Like Scarlett O’Hara in need of a dress, Ronnetta wasn’t taking her resources for granted either. She harnessed her spare time and Columbia College art degree to start multiple businesses. While Tom guarded presidents and first ladies, Ronnetta ran a gift shop and raised two young sons, Thomas and Teddy. She describes her drive saying, “My dad was an electrical and instrument technician, and my mom owned a daycare center. They both have incredible work ethics and passed that on to me. They instilled in me if you’re going to do something, do it well.” Her husband elaborates on her high-energy pace. “First and foremost she’s a dedicated mom, but she amazes me. She’s always researching and working on new interests. She can elevate any project to the next level.” One of her businesses jumped several levels when the family returned to the Palmetto State in 2010. She re-branded her handcrafted soy candles under the Carolina Chic logo. Southern Living noticed and featured them twice last year, putting Ronnetta on top of a lucrative product now sold across the region and into Texas.
Whether overseeing a business or home, Ronnetta does so with flair. “My folks did not have a privileged upbringing and worked really hard to give me what I had,” she reflects. “Mom always made sure the house was spotless and beautiful. It rubbed off on me.” The task is daunting now that her boys are teens. “She holds her own,” smiles Tom. “It’s very challenging. It’s not just a household full of men, but a household full of three alpha males.”
Nonetheless, with a trademark can-do attitude, Ronnetta keeps it running while serving out in the community. “Volunteering makes me feel good,” she says. “I think being a Southern woman is putting your faith and family first, caring about others, and doing things that make a difference.”
Like long ago, children still hold her heart. This past Christmas, she rallied neighbors to help Backpack Blessings feed hundreds of students who would have gone hungry over the break without their free school meals. The swim-soccer-track team mom also serves as the face of the Iron Disorders Institute, which is headquartered in Greenville. “Ronnetta is our star, our light in a very dark area where iron is misunderstood,” reveals executive director Cheryl Garrison. “I was impressed how quickly she gained knowledge and applied herself to raise awareness. Her efforts will save lives.”
In fact, Ronnetta’s desire to educate other women is what prompted her step back into high-heels and gown 23 years after last competing for a crown. “I wanted to get the message out about the dangers of low iron. Nobody is talking about it, but nearly half of women have it,” she states with passion. “I was diagnosed with anemia at 16, but I didn’t pay any attention to it until a few years ago when I learned I was one click away from a heart attack.”
She also sits on the Board of Directors for the Miss South Carolina Scholarship Organization. “She exemplifies style and grace that goes beyond the stage,” reveals president and executive director Ashley Byrd. “She has a way of giving back in service day in and day out. She possesses great marketing skills and empowers other women.” Byrd credits Ronnetta with helping South Carolina raise more money for the Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals than any other state in the Miss America Organization for the past three years.
Long live the queen? Or long live Southern women? Ronnetta will be the first to tell you pageants only opened doors. Her success and perseverance are rooted in Southern womanhood. “I’m fortunate to have won a few pageants, but I am beyond blessed to have been raised a Southern woman. We take pride
in who we are and that pride does not come from a place of vanity, but from a place of respect: self- respect and respect for others. And most importantly, we do everything from a place of love.” The queen has spoken.
November 5, 2014
The Greenville News
By Angelia Davis
City People Writer firstname.lastname@example.org
Ronnetta Griffin of Greenville has long worn many hats. Now, she wears a crown.
A wife, a mother, entrepreneur, designer, spokesperson, and advocate, Griffin is the newly crowned Mrs. South Carolina 2015.
It’s a title she earned at the Mrs. South Carolina competition in Mooresville, North Carolina. It was also a title Griffin was “shocked” to claim. “I think it was a reaction of disbelief. I wanted to do this for a long time, but honestly could not gather the courage to do it,” Griffin told
“I don’t know many women my age who would want to walk on a stage in a swimsuit and heels, but that is one of the requirements.”
Griffin, who is almost 50, braved that requirement largely to help put the spotlight on her platform — Iron Deficiency Anemia — a condition that she suffers from.
“I almost had a heart attack a few years ago and had no idea that that was the cause of it, this iron deficiency,” Griffin said.
Already, she’s seeing an impact from her efforts. Recently, she received a message from a woman who read her posts about IDA and its potential danger, telling her “ you probably saved my life.”
Griffin said she has been anemic most of her life, having been diagnosed at 16.
“At the time, my doctor said, ‘You’ll be tired from time to time and you can’t donate blood.’ That was kind of the entire message to me,” Griffin said.
“I went through, pretty much, my entire life having all of these terrible symptoms and never connecting the dots. Once I realized how serious it was and that I could die, that it could actually caused me to have a heart attack ...I thought this is ridiculous that nobody’s talking about this,” she said.
Griffin is a member of the board of directors of the Iron Disorders Institute, a national non-profit organization based in Taylors. She also serves as the organization’s spokesperson for IDA.
About 50 percent of women are anemic and most of them don’t even realize it, Griffin said.
“I talk to women everyday who don’t have the energy to take their kids to school because their iron is so low and they think they’re being lazy, they’re out of shape or just getting older,” she said. Being Mrs. South Carolina “helps spread the word so that they don’t have to live in misery.”
Ronnetta is “really an inspiring woman and a fantastic role model for married women across South Carolina,” said Frederick C. Galle III, director of the Mrs. America Organization and executive director for Mrs. South Carolina.
“She is constantly giving back to her community and teaching the women of South Carolina through her efforts as a leader for educating women on the dangers of Iron Deficiency Anemia through her Get Your Iron Up campaign,” Galle said. “We are very excited to share Ronnetta with all of South Carolina and she is a strong contender at Mrs. America 2015 next September in Moscow, Russia,' he said.
Griffin has been married for 21 years to Tommy, Upstate resident agent-in-charge for the US Secret Service. They have two sons, Thomas, 16, and Teddy, 13.
Griffin, a former Miss South Carolina (1991), is an active volunteer and the owner of Carolina Chic a soy candle company recently featured in Southern Living magazine.
The 38th annual Mrs. South Carolina pageant was held at the Charles Mack Citizen Center Theatre, Mooresville.
Mrs. South Carolina Pageant is the official state preliminary to the Mrs. America Pageant. Contestants compete in evening gown, swimsuit, interview, state costume and finalists answer onstage questions.
The winner receives a prize package valued at over $77,000.00 in gifts, services and prizes including a trip to the nationally broadcast Mrs. America Pageant. The winner of Mrs. America goes on to compete at the Mrs. World Pageant both pending broadcast and TV network negotiations,' according to Wendy Galle, Director, Mrs. America and Executive Director, Mrs. South Carolina In addition to Mrs. South Carolina 2015, Griffin was also received awards for ‘Most Beautiful, Evening Gown, and “opening Number, Best Ad Page Marriage Longevity, and Modeling.
Ronnetta Griffin had just about decided to give up her candle-making business when an unexpected email arrived in her inbox.
“I’m dying. I’m literally screaming at my computer,” Griffin recalled. “I can’t even think because I’ve always said I would love to be in Southern Living.”
That surprise email, arriving more than a year ago, finally led, about a month ago, to Griffin and her homemade candles appearing in a “Buy Local” feature of the magazine, which was distributed to more than 600,000 people in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida.
Since then, it’s been a fast and furious roller coaster ride for Griffin and her family — husband Tom and sons Thomas and Teddy. Read more...
What a thrill to be featured in the February 2014 issue of one of our all-time favorite magazines, Southern Living. Look for the article in the regional Travel / Culture section included in issues available in South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Special thanks to SL Assistant Copy Editor Jessica Stringer for making this dream a reality!
I was so excited when I was invited on January 2, 2014 to talk with Jamarcus Gaston, host of CW62's Carolina Now, about Carolina Chic's soy candles, stationery and new line of t-shirts. I was a VERY last-minute fill-in, as two scheduled guests had to bow out due to flu. As they say, one man's cancellation is another man's opportunity...so thank you Jamarcus for having me! By the way, the flu finally caught up with me the following week...but it was well worth it!
To watch the video of the interview, visit this link...http://www.carolinascw.com/story/24346707/carolina-chic
Me? Organized? Well...that may or may not be true. When I saw this in TALK magazine, I honestly thought, "What a travesty! Did I really say that? Lol. I am the least organized person I know." Just keeping it real people.
However, thank you to my friend Stephanie ("Hookie") Trotter for the kind words and the shout out to Carolina Chic. Every little bit of press help! ;-) <3
October 3, 2012
A treat for the ladies of Femfessionals Greenville at today's luncheon...mini gift boxes containing votives of our Greenville / High Cotton and It's Fall Y'all / Pumpkin & Spices at every seat! I had the pleasure of sitting next to and chatting with our speaker and special guest Erika Grace Powell who just so happens to be a "sister queen." Erika is a former Miss South Carolina AND a former Miss South Carolina USA (but we had her first at MAO - the Miss America Organization)! A dynamic speaker, talented singer and all-around beautiful lady, Erika was kind enough to help me "model" some of our candles.
For more information about Femfessionals, including how to join this network of female entrepreneurs, click here.
Our Charleston's French Quarter / French Pear & Lychee soy candle was profiled on the Beauty Huile blog -- a place for all things OIL. ;-)
While attending Charleston Fashion Week, fashion designer Mychael Knight @mychaelknight calls our Charleston's French Quarter / French Pear & Lychee soy candle "amazeballs." Thanks Mychael. That's a compliment, we think. ;-) #VIPswag
All of our lovely Lowcountry ladies -- lined up and runway-ready! We poured and shipped 3 dozen of our finest to Charleston Magazine for Charleston Fashion Week. The fashion show judges and VIP guests received either the Charleston / Fig & Oak Moss or the Charleston's French Quarter / French Pear & Lychee soy candle. Pictured also is the VIP tote full of other goodies.