Bright and sunny, surrounded by a small chattering and excited crowd, Jada Gonzales is in her element. She talks and greets each person, mostly strangers, with an infectious smile and her full attention. Jada looks sharp but approachable dressed in a floral-patterned jumpsuit, carrying only a simple clear caboodle that carefully encases her crown.
At local mom & pop shop Kwench Juice Cafe in Frisco, Jada hosted a modest meet & greet early Thursday afternoon. Radiant, practical and inviting acutely describe Ms. Texas 2020, who will be vying for the Ms. United States title from October 11 – 15 at the PGA National Resort and Spa in Florida.
Aside from her pageantry work, Jada has two main passions: mental health and clean oceans. Her platform is to provide practical advice for improving and maintaining a healthy mindset. Jada calls it “Working In,” much like how people workout their bodies to stay healthy, she wants to teach people how to “work in” their minds to support healthy thinking.
“I’m trying to normalize being able to exercise a healthy mindset, like the way we workout everyday,” she says.
Jada started training for pageants when she was 15 years old. She has done pageants in California and Arkansas but took a break after 2013 until last year. In Hawaii, she was still involved with pageants, but took on a mentoring role and served as a coach and choreographer for the Tiny, Little Miss, and Miss Hawaii pageants.
“So I did coaching for that entire pageant, coached all the girls from start to finish and then actually choreographed the entire show,” she says. “That’s when I really felt my calling was giving back to them, after teaching them their skills, helping them to grow their confidence.”
Jada’s approach has roots in her own personal experience. “I suffered from anxiety pretty much my whole life. My parents went through a really bad divorce when I was younger and I kind of suffered from this childhood trauma. I didn’t realize I had that bad of anxiety until maybe three years ago. I was kind of just living my life thinking this was how life was supposed to go.”
Whereas many people have what she calls a “whimsical” or broad approach to mental health, Jada tries to provide specific and applicable solutions. She posts her self-care reminders and tips through Instagram for now, but hopes to expand to a podcast or blog after the Ms. United States competition.
Her second passion, keeping plastic out of the world’s oceans, started with Jada making bar soaps from home to prevent single-use plastics like soap bottles from ending up in the sea.
“When I was living in Hawaii, I was a scuba diver so I really saw the effects of single-use plastics in our oceans,” she says. “So when I got here [Texas], I started making bar soaps for myself and I noticed my friends really enjoyed it.”
After realizing she might have gotten onto something, she opened up her own shop and small business on Etsy: Sea Clear Soap Co.
Having done pageants in the past in different states, Jada says she has been grateful with how much the state of Texas has rallied behind her and feels truly embraced by the community here.
“It’s been incredible,” she says.
From now to October 6, Jada will be donating all the profits from her Sea Clear Soap Co. shop to Mental Health America of Greater Dallas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating and promoting mental health in the greater Dallas community.
To support Ms. Texas 2020 with travel and pageant fees for her trip to Palm Beach, Florida she’s set up a GoFundMe campaign: https://www.gofundme.com/f/jada-for-ms-united-states-2020
Follow Ms. Texas 2020 on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mstexasus2020/