#BowtieAmbassadors – The Novel Tale of Steph Pham Joining Team Bowtie

Editor’s note: This is not a entry to the contest. This is merely to tell my tale of becoming a Pipster.

Squeezing in TV is extremely challenging as a senior in college.  However, one night my sister and I went to her computer lab just to study. She put on New Girl for her background noise, and I watched The Voice to catch up with the blind auditions.

I was highly impressed with the level of talent.  Like the contestants I have spoken with, I agreed with them that this show had such integrity about vocal talent.  It was not about how great your appearance was or how funny you were. It was merely judged on how you poured your love of music into your voice.

The minute Pip appeared for his audition, something in my gut said… “WOW.”  Hearing his story I could relate it so much.  People underestimate me day in and day out.  We both grew up in small towns/suburbs so given the chance to showcase our talents wasn’t always an open door opportunity.

“There is a hooooouse in New Orleeeeeans THEY CAAAAALL THE RIIIISING SUN!” The first thing I ever heard from Pip’s voice, and let me tell you not only was I blown away, I could tell that no matter where he was going in life he was never ever going to let anyone or anything get in his way.  I’ve been in the arts field for many years, and it’s gotten to the point where I spot out the people who love what they do versus the people who just want the fame. You can easily tell that for Pip this isn’t just a “I want my name on a Marquee” job. He loves what he does, and I love that about him.

Ok, so let’s fast forward this story a little bit. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see his journey on the Voice. I was in a battle of my own: trying not to get kicked out of my college since I was under academic probation. But, let me tell you the minute my heart became a Pipster.

The week before finals, I worked a 12 hour shift on the TV crew to tape our University’s version of American Idol.  Running around, constantly talking, and being the pseudo Assistant Producer made me very ill the next week. I had no voice for 2 ½ days, I was stuck on the couch in pain, and barely had any energy.

Well, for some reason, Pip just randomly popped in my head while I sick. Then, by some strange coincidence my friends started talking about him. I had that “OMG! PIP, I LOVED HIM FROM THE VOICE! IT BREAKS MY HEART THAT HE GOT KICKED OFF” moment.  I started buying his material off iTunes, and I just couldn’t believe how hooked I became. I listened to “You Know I’m No Good” over and over again.

Finals week came and I was still sick, just not as bad. Luckily a lot of my finals were out of the way. The only thing that stood in my way of summer was my Intro to American Drama final and my 10+ page business plan for Media Entrepreneurship.

While preparing for both I constantly listened to Pip. It was all I ever listened to while studying. Then while at Starbucks, I decided “What the heck, let me try to contact him. I doubt he’d reply but I have to tell him that he got me through this challenging time.”  I decided to email him, and to thank him for everything. I even highlighted the fact I loved his philanthropic heart. His YiM foundation means a lot to me, because my older sister and I care a lot about charitable and non-profit organizations. In fact, we both work for one. To my surprise he wrote me back. I wasn’t expecting it at all, and it really made me smile.  When you’re really ill during finals, you need all the mojo you can get.

We continued to write each other afterwards. He honestly has one of the kindest hearts I have ever seen. It didn’t feel like I was speaking with someone I barely knew. It felt like we were pen pals, and his words and generosity just left a huge impact on me.

The next big step in the journey was when I decided to interview him for my blog.  I wrote about artists on my blog, and I really wanted to use my journalistic skills more.  While on a road trip, I decided, “What the heck. I saw he did an interview with a vlog group before, why not ask him.”  I sent him a request, and lo and behold he agreed.  Humbled doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt. It was truly an honor.

I sent my questions right around the time he started his Kickstarter.  Poor timing on my part, because he was really busy with so much planning and meetings, but I waited.

When he announced he was doing a Ustream, I was so excited!  That night I was just going to sit back and watch, not really participate, because I’ve been to Ustreams before, and it can be quite the challenge to even get a “hi.” Just randomly, I said hi to Pip and his amazing sister Eileen (whom by the way I adore along with his other sister Bridget. They’re awesome, but more on that later).  Eileen responded to me in an email before, and she saw I was there.  She went, “Oh! Steph Pham!” That took me by surprise. Then right after Pip went, “Steph Pham! That’s my girl. I’m going to get back to you with those questions one day.” Honestly, that was a rough day for me, and hearing that simple sentence cheered me up.

Pip kept his promise, and the next day sent me the answers to the interview. As a journalist vet, I have to say he had the most professional and intelligent answers I have ever seen in any of my interviews. They were honest, and they were him. No puppet strings attached.

Fast forward again. So, all of Team Bowtie cheered as we saw the Kickstarter goal had been reach. I wanted to do something to congratulate him, so I hosted a #PipsterParty saying my idea. I was blown away by the dedication and creativity of the Pipsters. It was also a major honor to bring Pip’s sisters in on the project. They really stepped up to the plate and made the project extra special. I also have @Team_Bowtie to thank. She really promoted and got people involved in the project. Without her help we wouldn’t have been as successful.

Pip surprised me once again. I didn’t think he was going to watch our project in his Ustream. Really it was his time, and in the music realm time = money. I was happy for the hard working Pipsters that he agreed. Watching his reaction was probably one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had as a person in film. Seeing him smile and laugh and appreciate the hard work everyone put into it really touched my soul.

Hitting the fast forward button again to now. In my head I wanted to do something for the Pipsters. Honestly, I have never seen such a supportive group before. They don’t backstab, turn their back or start cat fights. I was impressed by the grace and maturity of this lovely group. So, once again I reached out to Pip.

I decided that I wanted to hear their stories. I wanted to know exactly who these wonderful people were. I talked it over with Pip and the #BowtieAmbassadors contest was born. We’d be giving away a signed bowtie to the person with the story he liked the most. I couldn’t believe he was going to be this amazing. Actually I could believe it. Then, just yesterday I spoke with him again just to touch base about the contest to see if we were on the same page.  He was absolutely kind and agreed to announce the winner on a Ustream, and to award a 2nd and 3rd place prize. In addition, I am honored to be his co-judge. The final choices are up to him of course, but honestly the reason why I wanted in on the judging was because I deal with these Pipsters on a daily basis. I wanted to make sure that someone really deserving with a heart-warming and genuine story received the prizes. So, it is most definitely an honor.

Alright for the closure of this novel I will say this. I am a simple girl. I don’t need flashy things, just my Phamily (who I really place as my number one priority), friends and the things to keep me alive.  So, of course I am grateful for everything in life. Including not only the Arnold family, but the Pipster family. To the Arnold clan, I cannot thank you enough. Bridget and Eileen you two are beyond wonderful. Thank you for embracing me and welcoming me into your lives. You are just too kind for words. To Pip’s wonderful Mom, Chris.  Thank you so much for the kind words. I place my family deep within my heart every day so to hear you embracing not only me but the whole Pipster family is just more than I ever hope for. To the Pipsters out there: Thank you for being such an incredible community. You are more than just a group, you’re a family. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And finally Pip. If this novel doesn’t show you how much you mean to me then I don’t know what does. 😉 Honestly Pip, I am one of the luckiest girls to have you in my life. You mean more to me than you will ever know. Thanks for making me a risk taker, a better friend, and a better person. To the wordsmith in me, I will say that there are simply no words to tell you how impacted my life. See you in Cali one day.

Much Love,


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