During Feeric Fashion Days I met a lot of young models. It was fascinating to watch them: how they spoke, what they did and, mostly, how beautiful they were after they removed some really horrible make-up. At one point Anca, overwhelmed by so many girls in a small place (about 50), told me that she thinks it`s hard to be a model and make yourself noticed and I smiled, nodded and told her You have no idea! I got to spend a lot of time backstage so I talked with some of these gorgeous girls and found out they were already represented by top modelling agencies in Romania and started comparing contracts. In a few minutes I was speechless, because I could clearly tell the strategies behind some weird clauses of the contract, that`s why I decided to make a TOP 5 ADVICES for future models. These are just a few things I wished someone would have honestly told me before I started this journey or some conclusions after 8 years in the business:
1) When choosing an agency:
Please read carefully the next sentence – CHOOSE SOMEONE YOU WOULD LOVE TO WORK WITH! Don`t waste 3, 5 or 10 years of your life working with someone that intimidates you from the first meeting, forces your hand, promises but doesn`t deliver and so on. If you can`t stand up for yourself before you sign the contract, you won`t be able to do it later – so, don`t sign it. If they give you a contract and tell you “this is a one-time offer!” – don`t do it. You are an income source (remember that!), they will earn money thanks to you (30/40% of everything you make is theirs) and they will work for you, not the other way around. Don`t be afraid: the world doesn`t end if an agency drops you. Times have changed. Send your digitals (polaroids) to all the modeling agencies (that includes casting agencies as well) – meet with people, see what they offer and please: don`t get drunk with cold water!
I wouldn`t sign a contract longer than 3 years if I had to go back at Day 1. I don`t care about their “development stage for fresh faces, thus we need 5 years”. That`s bullshit. 3 years are enough to reach a conclusion: did I get any experience? Have I made some money? How much I sacrificed and how much I gained? Is it worth it? If the answers are “yes”, then you can extend your contract. But if the answers are ”no”, tell me – why would you still want to waste some more precious time?
Top Model Miranda Kerr with her mother and grandmother
2) Relationship with parents
Nothing, but absolutely nothing, is worth sacrificing a good relationship with parents.
I have started modelling when I was 18, before I went to college. Our house rule was simple: do well in school = complete freedom and trust! So I did. My mom is my best friend, counselor and I often tell her that she should be my agent. She supports me, encourages me, recharges my batteries with positive energy – she`s my rock. I didn`t earn so much at the beginning, so she helped me with everything. But as time went by, the roles changed. So don`t lose your roots and trust the ones that love you unconditionally. If you`re passionate about modelling and they don`t seem to support you from the start: give them a little time. Try to understand that they just want to protect you: they mean well, even if the methods are harsh. All you have to show them is true passion, prove it`s not another phase/mood you have and always remember why you started.
3) Power of good habits:
If you managed to get represented by people you like/trust and things are starting to get pretty well, you have to think ahead, because time doesn`t forgive anyone:
* Go to a Gym: even if you`re a size 0 already. Your body will change in time. I used to eat whatever I wanted and didn`t gained a pound. Now, every time I exaggerate – it goes straight to my belly. But it`s ok: we have a strange love-hate relationship.
Don`t give your agents pretexts for their incompetence: “You`re not working because you`re fat!”.
* Eat healthy: sometimes you`ll work all day and won`t be able to cook a healthy meal. But don`t let junk food become a part of your lifestyle. Remember that every time you eat, you are either feeding disease or preventing it. Spoil yourself with some fries and a chocolate, but once a week, not once a day!
* Save some money: you won`t earn that much in the beginning (oh, and all those photo tests will have to be paid from your own pocket), but have patience. It`s a matter of time and you have to stay focused. If you can`t save 10$ from 50, you won`t save 100 from 500. Invest in yourself: save money for a professional camera, a city break or for rainy days. Maybe your parents can pay for all this, but trust me – when you pay for a thing you take better care of it and show much more engagement in a task.
4) The model bag:
I currently have over 20 pairs of stilettos/sandals/peep toe boots in the closet that I bought especially for shootings. And that`s because when I started modelling I had none. I was always tall, why was I supposed to own high heels? Don`t get me wrong, I`m not bragging, I just want to let you know how some things leave a mark on you if they get you off guard. There was always a lack of shoes everywhere I went. After all these years I still have to take shoes with me at different photo-shoots or fashion shows. So here`s a list of things you`d better have in your bag (or at home) as a model:
- Black and nude stilettos (something that makes your legs look good; no bling bling, no patterns). Don`t be cheap and choose wisely.
- Black, white and nude complete sets of underwear (push-up cups, balconette bra, detachable straps, super slim thongs)
- The perfect pair of jeans – preferably black. I know, I know – boring. All this black and white. But that`s how things work. White/black T-shirts/tanks.
- A bathing suit – two piece (something that fits you really well)
- Nude long lasting nail polish
- A super hydrating face/body cream (I highly recommend coconut oil).
- A super strong concealer and a high quality foundation – for an impeccable face and a fresh look.
- A lovely dress for after parties – you will become a brand, you will become an ambassador for some labels: do not underestimate the power of your image outside the photo shooting setts or catwalks.
I always said that the greatest compliment I ever got was the second phone call from a client. It meant that I did a good job and they wanted me to represent them for another season. That was my reward. Listen to people and show genuine interest – You`ll spend the money one way or another, but gaining new friends is something you can`t buy.
Help people – if you meet someone and your instinct tells you to go for it – DO IT! I met a lot of students that needed a model, but couldn`t afford one. So I helped, always, even if the only thing I got was experience. Years went by, businesses bloomed and now they give me gorgeous dresses, money and a door always opened. You never know what the future holds for someone, so be kind with the people you meet.
Before you get the “yes” that matters or the dream job, you have to remember: let experience make you better, not bitter. This is the secret for a safe and amazing trip trough the fashion world! Have a great one 😀