"We've been in their shoes," Reese said. "We know what they feel like." As compared to other pageant coaches who may not have competed for several years, if at all, she added.
Montgomery, a Boyle County High School graduate, said she still has the passion to compete. Even though they both still are of age to continue competing, Reese said she's enjoying the other side of the spotlight.
"I like watching better," she said.
Reese, a Garrard County High School graduate, took the Miss Garrard County Fair title in 2006, and was runner-up that same year in the Miss Casey County Fair pageant.
Pageants may seem more prevalent during the summer, particularly because of county fairs, but Montgomery said it is a year-round occurrence for many age groups. They started their pageant coaching business this summer with two clients under their belts so far.
Sarah Thompson, 15, of Columbia is one of them.
"I've never really done pageants before," she said.
Practice for national competition
Thompson, and her aunt Susan Bloom of Danville, sought out Montgomery and Reese's help to better prepare Thompson for the Miss National America pageant at the end of the month. She used the Miss Boyle County Fair pageant this weekend as practice.
"I thought this would be a good experience for her," Bloom said of Thompson.
Plus, Bloom said she's known Montgomery for years and considers it a great opportunity for her niece to get the opportunity to work with her. Montgomery added that even though Thompson competed in the Miss Boyle County Fair pageant, she and Reese had no affiliation with the judges whatsoever, and that judges do not know who has been coached or by whom.
"We know what it's like being up there not having a clue what to do," Montgomery said, relating to Thompson's appearance in her first pageant.
Watching Montgomery give direction to Thompson is clear indication that her experience has helped turn her into a vault of useful pageant secrets that many first-time competitors may not think of while preparing. Aside from experience in front of judges, Montgomery credits Goldie Goldsmith and Donnie White from Studio G in Harrodsburg, and Images Modeling Agency, for helping prepare her for pageants.
Both Montgomery and Reese offer something different in categories in which they feel they are strong. Montgomery said her specialty is stage presence, "which is more than just walking." And Reese handles the interview and speaking aspects. What they don't teach is how to turn someone into something they are not.
"We teach them to be the best that they are," Reese said.
Although she said many people may frown upon this type of training, calling it the "parading of a woman's body," they teach lessons that benefit people beyond a pageant stage.
"There's more to it than being pretty, being attractive," Montgomery said.
She compared it to the coaching of sports, calling pageant training coaching for confidence. Poise, confidence and speaking skills are all attributes that come in handy off the stage come time for college or job interviews, they said. Perhaps it could help people get over a widespread fear - public speaking.
"A lot of people aren't used to being in front of crowds," Reese added.
But confidence is the key, she said, to becoming a stand out in pageants - and life.
"People can see through the outer beauty and know if you're pretty and confident on the inside," Reese said.
For more information on pageant coaching by Montgomery and Reese, to set up a session, or to get pricing information, call (859) 583-5393.