Originally from Belarus, Bloomfield Hills-based Mila Pershyna, has many talents and titles – from businesswoman, fashion designer, educator and philanthropist to Mrs. USA 2022 – but there is a common thread among them.
“Being an educator relates to everything I do,” said Pershyna, founder and CEO of MP Fashion Apparel Brand and MP Fashion School, as well as president of MP Global Foundation, her non-profit. “I expanded my fashion design and sewing program to the Bloomfield Hills Schools district and I also teach in Birmingham. For my after-school programs, I teach basic life skills to kids and adults, including refugees.”
Pershyna, who is married with two sons, ages 5 and 11, and two grown stepsons, has lived in Michigan for more than 20 years. “I enjoy the four seasons and I live in a great community with great people and great food,” she said.
When her stepsons were younger, she taught them how to cook and do their own laundry. Now, when they come to visit, they want to cook certain dishes. “They have the skills they need to get through life,” she said. “I taught them how to sew their own buttons and repair a rip that is an easy fix, so they don’t throw away clothes. There is a need for these life skills.
“I consider learning how to sew and cook very important. Back when I was in school, we had those classes. Now they have all been taken away from schools. I see our children are not equipped for everyday life, so I don’t see them being independent when they exit school.”
The life skills program is offered at no cost through her non-profit, where students might also learn additional skills like yoga to help them deal with stress and other emotions.
“Not everybody can afford to take life skills classes,” said Pershyna. “Not all parents have the patience or the time, or their kids don’t listen to them. It’s easier to send our kids to someone else to teach them.”
On May 6, she will offer an all-day fashion camp for children called SEW WHAT: Kids Fashion Summit, at the Bloomfield Township Public Library. The event is free, but registration is required.
Pershyna also teaches fashion design and sewing through her MP Fashion School for a fee, and she has had her own women’s wear fashion brand for years. When earning her master’s degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising at Wayne State University, she did an internship with Diane Von Furstenberg in New York. Now Pershyna offers an internship to local students at her fashion studio in Waterford. “For the past few years, I have been focusing on education again,” she said.
While pageants were not part of her original plan, a friend suggested she enter one and her husband told her to go for it.
“I took it very seriously. I found a trainer and materials on pageants,” said Pershyna. “I had learned so much, like how to walk. I used to model, but you walk differently in a pageant.”
Her first pageant was in 2020. “I didn’t win, but it was an amazing and fun experience,” she said.
When a friend recently encouraged her again, she became Mrs. USA 2022 and she will be competing for the Mrs. Worldwide title this summer.
“My goal was to have the experience to show my platform and my passion to educate people to have life skills,” said Pershyna. “It’s important for our children. I want them to be independent and sufficient. I am all about education.”
Story: Jeanine Matlow
Photo: Christine Ward