10 Most Beautiful Women 2018 presented by Bharat Shah

Audrey Garard, 37

Owner Grooms Office Environments
Charity: Safe to Sleep

The woman who receives the most votes during online voting and has the biggest crowd at the event will be able to donate a portion of the Indulge event ticket proceeds to her charity. The winner will be announced during Indulge.

Do you volunteer, or are you involved in any philanthropic or community organizations? If so, what are they, and what do you do?
I am currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Springfield Chamber of Commerce and although it is not a philanthropic type of volunteering I still feel that I am serving my community. I love our Chamber and how hard the staff works for its residents everyday to make our city a wonderful place for businesses to grow and prosper. On the philanthropic side I serve on the Advisory Council for Care to Learn. It is an amazing organization that puts resources in the hands of teachers to take care of any needs they see in their classrooms regarding health, hunger and hygiene.  

The cause that I spend most time serving and volunteering for is Safe to Sleep. Safe to Sleep is Springfield’s only homeless women’s shelter. It is open 365 days a year and has an average of 30-40 women per night. I volunteer and stay overnight every other week. I always take dinner for them with me and I have gotten pretty good at cooking food for that many people. I think it keeps me humble and grounded. It is serving others in the most basic of ways. I make coffee, wash towels, serve food, I am a human alarm clock, I break up fights, I help set up cots, I just do whatever is needed. Usually I leave mentally and physically exhausted but l love every minute of it. Some people say, “I don’t know how you do that and work the next day.” I think, “try it and see.” 

What do you think makes a woman beautiful?   
I think what makes a woman beautiful is if she has a positive attitude. A positive attitude is infectious. Life is hard and I don’t know one person that does not have trials. It could be struggling with health issues, difficult family dynamics, complicated relationships or maybe its financial hardships. A woman can show her inner beauty, integrity, and spirit by her attitude and the way she handles herself daily. 

What has been your proudest moment? Or, what are you most proud of? 
I am most proud of owning my own business. The first time I turned the lock to the door it was probably the proudest moment of my life thus far. It takes guts and it takes work. One of my favorite quotes is “success isn’t owned. It’s leased, and the rent is due every day.” There is a weight that is carried knowing that so many families are counting on you to make good decisions and to oversee the health of our company. I don’t sleep much but I love what I do and what it means for our family. 

What was one particularly defining moment in your life? A life-changing moment. 
There are so many moments. My wedding made me a wife, the birth of my sons made me a mother and the purchase of Grooms made me a business owner. All of them are major events that changed the direction of my life. They are titles that I cherish. #wifemomboss 

When you were a child, who did you think was the most beautiful woman? Why?
I think it would have to be Audrey Hepburn. I identified with her because of her name, of course, and I wanted to look just like her when I grew up. My mom let me watch all of her movies. I thought she was beautiful and smart. She had the reputation of being humble, kind and charming. When I think of her today I think she stood the test of time as one of the most beautiful women in history. Her charitable works later in life have left a legacy that I can only aspire to. 

What advice would you give to a young girl about being beautiful?  
I would tell her that beauty is different in everyone’s eyes and that the old adage “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” is very true. I would tell her to take care of herself spiritually, mentally and physically. You have one body so take care of it.  See your dentist, wear your sunscreen and start using eye cream in your twenties and your thirties will thank you. 

What is your biggest source of inspiration? 
I am inspired by those around me. My friends and family are all from very different walks of life and I am inspired by their individual passions and strengths. I need inspiration daily in the line of work that I do. All day I am taking in information and learning about different products and materials. I never know how or where I am going to use them. I love those ‘ah ha’ moments. I never know where they are going to come from but nine out of 10 times it’s when I am drying my hair and I am like “I got it.” 

Where do you find beauty in 417-land?   
417-land is filled with beauty and I love where I live. The fact that we have all four seasons makes me so happy. The most beautiful place to me in 417-land is Table Rock Lake. There is something about the sun setting on the water that makes me emotional. I am a different person when I am there. I feel my shoulders drop and I slow down enough to be in the moment and enjoy the beauty of God’s work all around me and soak it in with the sun.

See the winners in the September issue!

Get to know our 10 Most Beautiful even better. Then, watch them walk the runway at 417 Magazine's Indulge on September 13 at Oasis Hotel and Convention Center.