Today as I was doing relocation prep work, my inner voice whispered, “She isn’t ready yet!” As a Model Momager I am hearing this voice more frequently because there is a part of me that just isn’t ready to let my favorite client go. Conversely, my voice has an evil twin that regularly follows with, “SHE IS READY ALREADY!” The Mom vs. Momager voices both have personal stock in this endeavor and neither seem willing to concede. So with all of the coaching over the years, how do you know when your model is ready to move-on-up?
The short answer is, you don’t know. However, there are several things you can do to make sure you have prepared your client for the next crucial step. Aside from height, measurements, walk and high fashion look there are other key qualities your model needs before making the big move. Here are five things to look for before sending your client off to see the NYC fashion wizards.
1. Your client has to want this WAY MORE than you do. While on this modeling journey, Momager’s often have to give a gentle nudge or word of encouragement because after all, that is what mom’s do. However, kind words are not enough when it comes to relocating to the fashion capital or any other significantly larger market, your model has to want it more than anything. Try offering your client an out by saying, “You know you DON’T have to do this if you don’t want to,” and watch to see if they fall for this old reverse psychology trick. But seriously, speak to your client’s heart, taking yourself out of the equation and make sure they really want to do this for all the right reasons. I have seen my client get out of her sick bed to walk in runway shows and no one would have guessed that moments before hitting the catwalk she was shivering with chills and burning up with fever. As much as I discouraged, there was no stopping her. Later, she told me something in her comes alive when she is modeling. Your client has to have a commitment to the business that surpasses yours. If you are pushing them to model, STOP.
2. The thought of spending a lot of time alone cannot be an issue for your client. There will be a lot of time spent waiting for public transit, waiting at go-sees, waiting backstage, waiting for hair and makeup and waiting at home alone for jobs to come in. An average day could be packed with appointments or it could be quiet with not very much working coming in. New York can be a lonely place for a young model, especially if this is their first time away from home and family. If your client struggles with meeting new people, eating out alone or traveling through town unaccompanied; then this may not be the best option.
3. A model must be educated on how to prepare ahead for appointments. The amount of time spent preparing ahead can vary depending on the assignment. Momager’s spend a considerable amount of time get everything done a day or two ahead of time. Your client should be doing this on their own before they relocate. Things like packing a model bag, makeup, comp cards and portfolio, mapping out directions, laundry and confirming last minute instructions all have to be done ahead of time. There is another very important thing that should be done at least the day before – RESEARCH! Always do some research about the designer, photographer, event, products, promoter or agency before showing up to an appointment. I cannot tell you how many times my client has gone to appointments and had to explain to other models who the designer is or what kind of event they will be walking in.
4. Taking good care of themselves is a must! Everything from diet, exercise, skin/hair/nail care and mental health are important factors in the daily regime of a model. Looking their best is part of their daily job so paying attention to all of the little things will matter even more after relocating. An agency may or may not say anything about these things but it is never good hear negative feedback from clientele. If you do not see good habits in these areas before the move, address it and wait for improvement before letting your client go into a larger and faster paced market.
5. A model must be able to handle their own finances. Being knowledgeable on how to keep finances in order is a life skill we must all possess. Models must learn early how to save and maintain separate accounts. They also need to know how to keep accurate financial records. Money can start coming in quickly so self-discipline must be taught. It is also important to keep track of incoming payments for jobs worked. It is a good idea to open joint accounts so you can assist if and when needed. The earlier these disciplines are established, the more successful your client will be when they are away from home.
While many agencies scout younger models, many of these skills are not in place until age 18 or older. Younger models may be ready, but less mature models can struggle in some or all of these areas. This can make handing over Momager duties even more difficult. The key is to start educating your model as early as possible. Make every effort set your client up for success by giving them the proper tools needed. You will feel more confident that your client has what it takes for the next big step and you can tell your inner voices, “Shhh.”