A Surfside Beach woman took third place in a toilet paper wedding dress contest in New York Wednesday.
Mimoza Haska of Surfside Beach beat out 1,500 competitors in the 14th Annual Toilet Paper Wedding Dress Contest presented by Cheap Chic Weddings and Quilted Northern, for her dress called "Spring is Here."
She won a cash prize of $2,500 for her dress made of white glue, glitter glue, clear tape, hot glue and 33 Rolls of Quilted Northern toilet paper, according to a news release.
The 41-year-old Albania-born Haska is a hairdresser by trade, and said she considers herself lucky to have been given the opportunity to come to the United States 21 years ago. At the time, she said, her country was in in turmoil following the fall of communism and early years of democracy.
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"It was very unstable, a lot of innocent killings and weapons everywhere," Haska said. "That happened at the same time they opened the American embassy in Albania, and they came with this program where they would do a green card, they would select people to win it, kind of like a lottery. I got very lucky and I came at the same time with my parents, it was a big fortune for me and my parents to be selected."
Haska first lived in Brooklyn when she came to the U.S. shortly before her 21st birthday. Later, she moved to Connecticut where she went to school and became a licensed hairdresser. She moved to South Carolina about 16 years ago, she said.
It was in the Market Common several years ago where she first developed an interest in dresses.
She was strolling around the shops one day when she saw wedding dresses made of different materials like newspaper, wrapping paper and plastic being displayed. At the time, she said she wanted to create dress to show off her hair styles.
Her first dresses were made of toilet paper.
"I am very creative as a person," she said. "I didn’t know how to sew. I had played around with it and figured it out."
And although she's not a designer, she said she has a good eye.
"It’s an artistic side of mine that I get very inspired by things and I’m very crafty," she said.
After creating her first dress, she said a friend on Facebook urged to look online for scholarship opportunities she could apply for using her dress-making skills. She said wasn't going to school at the time, but stumbled upon the dress contest. In 2012, she entered for the first time.
She entered again in 2013 and she won, as well as several more times through the years. Some years she took time time off for family issues.
This year, it took her eight weeks to finish her third-place dress, which she said was inspired by new growth in the springtime.
"Kind of resembling how the trees and the vegetation starts growing in the spring, so you have one flower here, one flower there," she said. "It takes a lot of work to put into it. It’s a passion."
She said dresses get better every year, and that it's an honor to finish in the top three.
"I’m lucky because they’re all beautiful dresses," she said. "I’m not even a designer by degree."