Does Your Model Know Who She Is?

girls-407685_1280As the day is quickly approaching for my daughter/client to depart for her new home on the east coast the pit in my stomach is becoming increasingly deeper.  I have been busying myself with countless projects and never ending to do lists to keep my mind off the inevitable. While it has served as a mild tonic, occasional bouts of tears still break way in my alone time. This week I watched her struggling through the doorway with large flattened U-Haul moving boxes, the reality hit me and I could only sit there motionless. I took a deep breath, let out a whispery “Whoosa” and found solace in what I know and believe deep in  my heart… She knows who she is.

 

Knowing who you are as a model does not mean you will not make mistakes. It does not mean you will never need advice from advisors, mentors, agents, management or your Momager. What it does mean is that you have a sense of self that only comes with maturity. It also means you approach the business with a confidence that only comes with years of work and experience. It is an advantage than many younger models have yet to develop. It is a muscle that is only developed with life experience and ultimately will help them avoid some of the pitfalls of the business.

 

Ideals of self-worth and inner beauty may sound philosophical and overly poetic. However the modeling industry is a highly competitive, fast paced and often demeaning business. The frightening stories of drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, wild partying, scammers, and sexual predators lurking in the industry are heard in all modeling circles. It is easy for a model to get caught up in a world less than glamorous while attempting to personify glamor for the world to see. Every Momager and parent who sends a child off into this business grimaces when thinking about the possibilities. Add to that the non-nurturing nature of model management and that makes the culpability of Momager’s even more daunting. Why would anyone want their child to pursue this profession? The truth is, many parents would prefer that their child take a different path but the love and support outweighs the fears.

 

Despite all the facts, the artistic expression of modeling will never stop. Similarly, there are countless stories of singers who have been ripped off by music industry, but that hasn’t stopped people from pursuing careers in the business. New artists are being discovered, recordings are still being made, concerts still come to town and every year someone will win ‘Best New Artist at the Grammy’s’. The modeling business is not dissimilar. It is a business that will never go away and models are pursuing this business more than ever before.

 

With all of that negativity how do you know that your client won’t follow in those footsteps? How do you make sure your client knows who they are and will avoid these pitfalls? There are few things you need to ask yourself and your client:

1.  Watch for signs of insecurity. Be certain your client does not have body image issues.

2.  Watch for unhealthy practices like avoiding meals, extreme dieting and excessive workout regimens. If it appears unhealthy to you, it probably is.

3.  Does your client have other unhealthy habits like binge shopping, drinking, excessing partying, or smoking?

4.  Listen for negative self-talk. How does your client handle rejection? Are they crushed by negative critiques? Do they become depressed or moody when rejected?

5.  Do personal issues affect their work ethic, i.e. disagreements with friends or breakups?

6.  How is your client’s energy level? Can they handle rigorous schedules?

7.  How is your child’s moral compass? Do they have a spiritual life? Are they firmly rooted and grounded in a form of faith or belief?

8.  Does your client have outlets – journaling, artistic, yoga, hobbies, etc.?

 

If you see signs of any of these behaviors, address them and have an open discussion with your client. Let your client know your concerns and voice your expectations as a parent and as Momager. Wait for signs of improvement before sending your client off to another city to work. Modeling is not the solution for any issue. It is another complex layer of responsibility and a strong sense of self is the only way to be successful.

 

Even if your client is a bit older, it is better to wait until they are ready than to send them off when they are not mentally or emotionally ready for what may lie ahead. As a Momager, you will always worry a bit because that is what parents do. However, knowing that your client has a sense of self will help you sleep at night when they are far away from home.

 

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Checklist Finished

I have been getting questions about my whereabouts lately.  When a Momager disappears for a few days people get worried or scared about what we may be up to!   Momager’s tend to ALWAYS have their hands in lots of pots.  I think it is just part of our nature.  So, I thought I would update and recap everyone on what has taken placeDSC_0968 these past few days in preparation for my clients move to New York on November 1st.

 

1.  The apartment has been located! The deposit has been made and Clinton Hill in Brooklyn is the spot.

 

2.  The U-Haul boxes have been shipped.

 

3.  The final night celebration has been scheduled and apparently a party bus will be driving through town on Halloween night with a group of youngsters who will bid farewell to my Client.

 

4.  A Target gift registry has been made for family and friends who keep asking, “What can we get her?”

 

5.  Final visits have been made or scheduled with family and friends. the leasing agent is booked for pickup of the keys.

 

6.  The tentative schedule for the weekend of the arrival is done. A meeting with the leasing agent is booked for pickup of the keys.

 

7.  Finances are in order and banking business has been completed.

 

8.  New luggage has been purchased, even though new luggage was just purchased for the last NYC trip!

 

9.  The shopping list for arrival in NYC is done. The local bodegas and discount stores have been investigated online.

 

10.  Temp lodging in NYC with a friend has been confirmed.

 

11.  Business appointments in NYC have been scheduled.

 

12.  The first trip back home has been planned and the first family visit to NYC to visit has been planned.

 

13.  Talks, talks, lectures, talks, warnings, advice and more talks have been conducted.

 

Did I mention that I went back to school?  Yes, I figured I may as well add additional stress and chaos to my life.  (Momager’s also thrive in chaos.)  Back to the books!

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Date Night with My Daughter

One night last week, my client and I decided to go out for a Mother/Daughter date night. The date for her relocation is fast approaching so we have been trying to spend as much quality time as possible. The rest of the family already had plans so the stage was set for girl’s night out! After all, dating your young adult daughter is supposed to fun. It’s a time to let your hair down, share secrets, laughter and revile in the unique bond the two of you share. Times have long passed from the gloves, pearls and pocketbook cinema-179743_1280carrying type of mom that my grandmother was. We have progressed much further than the “mom-jeans” wearing mother I had in the 80s. Now is the time of the new age mom who wears red bottoms, isn’t afraid to undergo the knife to look a few years younger and isn’t embarrassed to talk about her Brazilian wax with her teenage daughters.

 

I was not afraid to channel my inner Kris Jenner when my daughter and I agreed to go see a movie. We decided on the young sexy urban drama ‘Addicted’, starring Sharon Leal, Boris Kodjoe, William Levy and Tyson Beckford. I thought it was a good choice, we have watched several Lifetime movies together, enjoy an occasional Snapped marathon and generally have the same cinematic taste. So it seemed like a perfect film to take in together. After all, we are a tight knit mother daughter duo and this is 2014! I was excited about a perfect night out.

 

What started off perfectly, quickly took a turn. The first strange phenomenon occurred when my daughter purchased tickets for us, with her own money. I was still recovering from this as we entered the theatre and she went off to the concession stand and I searched for seats. I embarked on the theatre and found perfect seats dead center, and she joined me moments later with popcorn and extra-large Icee’s in hand. We nestled into our seats, watched the previews and I couldn’t help thinking how grateful I was to be sharing this time with my oldest daughter and how much I would miss these evenings two short weeks from now.

 

As the opening credits rolled so did my concern when I saw “Zane” was the writer and producer of the movie. I am very familiar with Zane and read a book or two that she authored in my younger years, but her literature is certainly nothing I would share with my daughter. Since this is a movie on the big screen with no explicit rating, I thought maybe, just maybe it will be toned down some. Surely there wouldn’t be a Zane-esk movie on the silver screen! Was I ever wrong. Moments into the film, a true Zane scene appeared on the screen.   Suddenly my daughter didn’t seem like an adult at all, and with each graphic scene of the movie her age appeared to be reversing. As the movie progressed, I was watching the movie with my two year old toddler and the guilt of watching sexually explicit scenes with her by my side was overtaking me. I squirmed more and more with every scene, not from the delight of William Levy’s exposed physique, I was squirming because I knew my daughter was watching me. I attempted to give her a smirk but my expression probably looked more like I had caught a whiff of rotten eggs.

 

At a point in the movie I wanted to just suggest we leave. But if I did so, would I be a mommy prude? Is there such a thing as mommy peer pressure? Have I let the images of Modern Family cause me to be ashamed of standing up and saying, “I think this isn’t something we should watch together.” Yet I continued sitting there, watching and suffering and checking my cell phone to see how much how many more minutes of delight I would have to endure.

 

I am not in denial about what my child may do when she is out with her friends. She wasn’t raised on a farm in the Amish countryside. Who knows what movies they go to see and what happens on girl’s night out. She is over 18 and now she is free to choose her own entertainment without my approval. I couldn’t help wondering if perhaps this the norm for her. Then at a point more than midway through the movie, my daughter looked at me and I realized she was just as uncomfortable as I was. She didn’t want to be there with me just as much as I didn’t want to be there with her.

 

I realized on Mother/Daughter date night that I am not quite ready to be the metro mommy. I grew up in a different era and I won’t be walking the streets of New York City with my daughter wearing black sheer designer baby couture. I am a conservative mom and I like it like that. While I want my daughter to be open with me and able to share anything that may be on her mind and heart; I am okay if she doesn’t include me in girl’s night out and or invite me to see any future installments of Addicted. I think what we both realized that night is that we are good with our relationship just as it is. We will stick to Twilight marathons and Hunger Games sequels. I may be a Momager, but I am no Kris Jenner.

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Freelance Modeling Pros and Cons

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You have been working hard to find an agency for your client, yet they still have not been signed. You have submitted Polaroid’s to several agencies and have not heard back or you have received the dreaded rejection message. Your client is ready to get working in their profession of choice and may be feeling discouraged as they wait for their “moment”. You have heard all of the stories about top models who simply emailed a photo to a scout and within days they were sitting in an office in New York City signing a lucrative modeling contract. Isn’t that how it is supposed to work? Why hasn’t that happened for your client? And as the Model Momager, what do you do next?

 

If your client has not been signed exclusively by a modeling agency, it is not the end of the world. They can always work as a freelance model. There are freelance models in all areas of the business including runway, commercial, promotional, fit, print, etc. Freelance models are responsible for their own bookings, marketing, promotions, contract and rate negotiations and portfolios. Freelance models can also work with several agencies simultaneously on a non-exclusive basis. Basically, deciding to work as a freelance model means being responsible for your own career. This is where you come in as Momager. You will essentially be acting as the agency who represents your child.

 

Freelance models are afforded the same opportunities that agency signed models are. The great thing about working freelance is accepting jobs when you want, setting your own schedule, setting your own rates and being your own boss. My daughter/client has worked successfully for 2 years as a freelance model. We opted to only sign non-exclusive contracts, so that she can continue to work independently as a freelance model. Successful models frequently sign non-exclusively to several agencies because they can afford to have a manager and staff in place to assist them with scheduling, logistics, negotiations, etc.

 

Now is actually a good time for freelance models to start and stay working consistently. It is no secret that all industries have been impacted by the downturn in today’s economy. The modeling industry is no exception, with many agencies closing their doors and cutting back on the number of models they keep active on their boards. Modeling agencies may only be accepting a certain number of new models or they may only be interested in signing a specific type of look, thus increasing their use of freelancers. Rates can even be slightly higher for freelance models.

 

You can find freelance work online using casting websites, Modelmayhem.com, Instagram and Craigslist, to name just a few. There are also many agencies that work directly with freelance models. I will be posting a list of resources for locating freelance jobs in the near future.

 

Make no mistake, the modeling industry is always a challenging one. Freelancing is just as tough as signing with a modeling agency. It is not an easier way to get into modeling, it is just a different way to get into modeling. Some people prefer entrepreneurship and others like being an employee; similarly, you may prefer that your client freelance or you may want them to sign with an agency.

 

Freelance modeling is not without its challenges. One obstacle you may face is some agencies will only book signed models for the more lucrative jobs. Another hurdle is, freelancing does not provide the security of knowing someone else is looking out for your client’s career. (That is assuming your agency is actually looking out for your client.) That does not mean agency signed models are any less involved in their careers but they have the added luxury of letting someone else worry about the never-ending details. Lastly, your client must reside in the city where the agency is located. Agencies generally want to work with freelancers who are local. Therefore, if there are no agencies in your local area freelancing may be hard to do.

 

If your client is not signed by an agency, freelancing will give you another avenue in helping them pursue a career as a model. Whether your client is agency represented or freelance, you must be dedicated and committed to their career. Do not allow yourself to feel a false sense of security if you decide to sign your client with an agency. As a Momager you will continually have to look out for your client’s career to ensure it is forging ahead.

 

Now that my client has gone from 90210 and will be entering 10001, things are certain to change. We will see how Model Momager of a freelancer from a distance works out!

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Modeling School or Modeling Agency

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Have you been approached by an agency or modeling school who would like to sign your child? Perhaps you have even been told your child needs to attend modeling classes before they can be signed by an agency. Are you sure you know the differences between the two? I did not know the difference when I was approached about signing my daughter up for modeling classes. I had no experience with the modeling industry and believed what I was told. Like many other parents who have no idea what they are getting themselves into, we signed up. If only I had known then what I know now…

 

There is a marked difference between a modeling agency and a modeling school. Modeling schools provide classes for aspiring models. They may instruct the young hopeful in photo shoot posing, runway walk, makeup application, nutrition, go-see and audition preparation, model bag must haves, etc. On the other hand, a modeling agency contractually represents a model by booking and paying them for jobs. The agency also represents clients by seeking talent to fulfill assignments. Some modeling agencies and schools operate together; other times a modeling school will be owned and operated independently. Smaller markets tend to have more joined school/agencies. Both modeling schools and agencies make claims to aspiring models to get them working as professionals in the industry.

 

If the school and agency are together, the agency may promise to sign your child at the completion of the courses. More often than not, the modeling school will accept any willing participant who is able to pay for the classes. These classes can run upwards of $1,200-$2,000. At the completion of the courses, some schools will then require additional payments of hundreds of dollars in fees for photo shoots with designated photographers to “build a portfolio”. However, most modeling schools will not tell you how to actually get modeling jobs with a modeling agency. Remember, modeling schools are not agencies, they are in business to make money from enrolling students. On the other hand, modeling agencies make money from clients.

 

Most legitimate agencies do not require models to go to modeling school. Agencies would probably prefer that they did not go to a modeling school because that is less time they will have to spend retraining a model that has probably been taught by an older model who has long since retired from the business or a former student of the program. An agency will either scout a model, hold open calls or sign a model referred to them by an industry insider because they know exactly what they are looking for. Modeling school graduate is not a requirement when scouting for new talent.

 

Modeling agencies want a blank canvas. They will teach a model the business through coaching, informal training, smaller bookings and test shoots. If they are really interested, they will work with the model on the fundamentals. They will even teach the model to pose and walk on the runway. A New York agency will usually will not want the portfolio the model spent lots of money building and those photos won’t really help to get your client signed. Some good Polaroid’s are all that is needed for submission and to be signed.

 

Model schools may not be completely bad. These schools can help young talent learn correct posture, poise and runway walk. They may help curtail bad habits and teach them proper diet, skincare and makeup application. Most importantly, it bodes well for their confidence and helps them become more self-aware. It can also connect them with other young models. If you would like your client to go for socialization like a summer modeling camp, then you are in luck. However, go in knowing that these courses alone may not be the start of a budding modeling career.

 

Before signing your client up with a school or agency do your research. A legitimate modeling agency should be booking shows. You should attend local fashion shows, read fashion news online or with local media. When you attend or read about fashion events in your local area, they will list the agency that is providing model talent. Your local television networks may have fashion segments that you can check to find out what agencies they are using. Those are the agencies you want to be affiliated with; agencies that are actually booking jobs for their clients. If you never see the school or agency mentioned, it is probably because they are not legitimate.

 

Make sure you sign up with a legitimate agency or school that is not known for scamming. Watch out for red flags. When interviewing an agency or school, ask them for a list of their clients. They should be more than happy to provide you with a list of clients that they work with. Before you sign anything, check them out online, through the Better Business Bureau and consumer advocacy agencies. When offered a contract, take it home and review it before signing.

 

Talk to others. Ask around and find out from working models if they know anything about the school or agency. Models can usually tell you which are reputable and which ones are not. If no one has heard of the school or agency you are inquiring about, do not pursue it. Check with your local department stores and find out who they are using. Attend local bridal shows, local agencies and schools may be sponsors. Bridal shows can also be a good place to talk to models. Another way to find out is talk to your local pageant moms. Pageant moms are a very tight network, they can usually lead you to model agencies and schools and let you know which ones are good and which are scams.

 

If there is some uncertainty about pursuing modeling as a career, modeling school is a viable option. Your client will undoubtedly be excited and ready to get started, even if the first step is attending modeling school. If you and your client are pursuing modeling with conviction why waste time. In that case, I strongly suggest avoiding modeling school and focus on signing with a modeling agency.

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Momager Expectations vs. Client Expectations

This morning I started with a frantic call from my client. “I called you three times on the house phone and your cell. Why didn’t you answer?!?!” This is the line of questioning I receive anytime I do not answer her call. Heaven forbid I take a shower, walk to the mailbox or step outside with the dog; that is no excuse for not being available to my client 24 x 7. A Model Momager is expected to available to answer any and all calls at any time of the day or night. That is just one of the undisclosed rules that was created and imposed on me by MY CLIENT. When I initially called her back, she did not answer.

 

There are several unspoken rules that were created by my client. Ironically, none of these “rules” apply to her. When asked who I am talking to on the phone, my client expects me to provide full disclosure. On the other hand, she will not reveal who she is speaking to when she is on the phone. Besides not answering the phone, leaving the house without permission is inexcusable. My client must know my whereabouts at all times. This is yet another rule that does not apply to my client. She can respond with vague answers like, “I was running errands!” when she returns after being M.I.A.

 

The borrowing and sharing rule is one that has perplexed me for quite some time. My toiletries, hair products and anything in my closet, are community property. Items needed for photo shoots, runway shows or modeling events are borrowed and never returned. Additionally, my food is always communal. Yet, these rules do not apply to anything in my client’s closet and it definitely does not apply to her food. In fact, borrowing from her closet or eating her food could result in my untimely demise!

 

What I am humorously referring to as client “rules” are really nothing more than client expectations. Often the expectations of Momager differ from the client’s expectations. While the above scenarios are comical, you have to manage the expectations of your client. There is no Momager contract between parent and child, so how do you balance expectations placed upon you be your child? When you live and work with someone, even if it is your child, it can create a strange and taxing dynamic. You must manage the relationship dynamics through ongoing communication. Even if your client is very young, start off letting them know your boundaries and define what is to be expected. What you are basically doing is creating an informal verbal agreement with your client.

 

I have communicated the non-negotiables and my client understand the things that are important to me. For example, I really do not mind sharing my shampoo and leftovers, what is important to me is my quiet time. My client understands this and knows that my meditation time is off limits.

 

When establishing your informal agreement, be sure you make it clear that you will be taking time out for yourself. Your client knows that you have made yourself available, make a conscious effort to schedule a regular time when you are unavailable. You may have to blackout some time on the calendar to let your client and others know you are off the clock. These boundaries are important to avoid burning out. Never feel guilty about doing this. There will be days that you just want to give up and there will be times that you ask yourself why you agreed to do this. Don’t despair and don’t give up. It does get better.

 

My urgent missed call this morning was to ask me if I would like to go shopping with on October 30th and 31st. Maybe it is time to update our verbal agreement!

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Pinterest Should Be Part of Your Momager Toolkit

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Last night or in the wee hours of the morning I had a wonderfully crazy dream about India. I don’t know if I was thinking about current news headlines before I fell asleep, but I woke up feeling inspired by a vision from my dream.  I immediately reached for my cell phone and launched my favorite app – Pinterest to see if I could find similar images. In less than 10 minutes I had a new board with 20 images that resembled my vision.  Anytime, a photo concept comes to my head, the first thing I do is go to Pinterest and create a gallery, referred to by Pinterest as a board. [Big sigh of relief.]

 

Before Pinterest came along, I kept photos stored on my hard drive in a multi layered folder structure. I had folders for hairstyles, eye make colors, fashion designers and photo shoot concepts. The bad thing was, I could never find exactly what I was looking for when I needed it. Some of the images were on my cell phone, others were on hard drives of multiple computers. Along came Pinterest and it was just the answer I was looking for but I had no idea it would change the way I work.  It expanded my creativity, because now I was able to follow like-minded pinners! Pinterest is so much more than just a place to look at pretty pictures. It is a valuable tool to help you get organized and stay prepared.

 

Models are visual artists, they bring to life images that are in the minds of others. Since their job is visual interpretation, your job as a Model Momager is to be on the hunt for images to make your client’s job easier. Sometimes your client will be booked for a shoot with a specific theme and Pinterest can help to give them a visual point of reference. On other occasions, you may be the person taking a concept to a photographer and with the help of Pinterest, you can present concepts to help them visualize the look you have in mind. Once the photographer is on board, you can present the same images to your stylist, hair stylist and makeup artist. You can easily direct each member of the glam team to the board by sending them a link. Your Pinterest profile is a great place to organize to your ideas and be prepared ahead of the game. It is online so you can access your profile from any device. No more having to text or email images to everyone, with a click everyone can catch onto the vision.

 

Not to mention, there is a ton of Momager information on Pinterest that is worth your time checking out. I rarely find information that is specific to Model Momager’s but there is certainly a wealth of information that can apply to all Momager’s.  You can certainly find tips and suggestions for organizing your busy life.

 

The key to good use of Pinterest is organizing your boards into usable story boards. One of the biggest mistake many pinners make is keeping their categories too broad. It is free to create more boards, make as many as need! I like to use general topics followed by “ – “ and a more specific subtitle. For example, “Photoshoots – Desert Glam”, “Photoshoots – Graffiti Glam”, “Photoshoots – Androgyny”.  I also use it for models and photographers that my client admires, for example, “It Girl – Alewya Demmisse”, “It Girl – Ariel Meredith” and “It Girl – Candice Swanepoel”. If you realize your categories are too broad, reorganizing is very easy and you can pin the same image on multiple boards if it fits more than one category.  You can also create up to three private boards if you do not want other followers to see a board that is still in the works.

 

Did I mention that Pinterest is my favorite app? If you are not using Pinterest to storyboard your clients projects give it a try. Share your Pinterest name and I will gladly follow.

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