5 Ways to Know Your Model is Ready to Move Up

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.”


What does a Model Momager do anyway?

The morning of Day 29 starts off with the mother/daughter duo wearing our usual t-shirts and undies that we call pajamas, lying in bed in the models tornado struck bedroom and chatting for more than an hour. We spend a lot of mornings doing this now. Somehow as the time draws near, these morning chats have become much more precious. We spend this time going over the agenda for the day and then discussing what else – THE MOVE. The chat comes to an end too soon for my tastes because her phone begins to buzz. It is one of her many suitors so that queues my exit.


My next order of business is to review my “lists”. A Momager always has a to-do-list for their number one client. What exactly is on a Model Momager’s list? Better yet, what does a Model Momager do every day?


The short answer is a Model Momager does WHATEVER IS NECESSARY FOR THEIR CLIENT. This can vary from day-to-day but there are seven things you can expect to do every day as a Momager.


1.  Review the calendar. The number one and probably most important thing I do each day is maintain my client’s daily schedule. We are not the Kardashian’s so there are no personal assistants on our payroll, so that means YOU ARE IT. The daily administrative task of maintaining and communicating the schedule for the day is paramount. The younger your model is the less time you have to spend communicating the days plan with your client, but there may be other people in your household who need to know plans for the day, week or month. (Nothing is better than telling your spouse that you have bookings with your client to attend and have to reschedule their birthday dinner. Oops – not good.) No matter the age of your client, get in the habit of checking email, voicemail and all social media communication to make sure nothing has come up or changed overnight. It all goes on the calendar – hair, nails, dermatologist, waxing, shopping, photo shoots, shows, go-sees, etc. The purpose of the morning discussion is to make sure you have left nothing out and that there have been no changes that you were unaware of. Models love to decide they are going to add additional items to the day without telling you, so beware and be flexible.


2.  Check the messages. Stay on top of all email, texts and manage social media. Make sure all media forums are kept current, i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. Mornings are usually the craziest and most fluctuating part of the day. A last minute booking can occur at any time, but for whatever reason industry folks love to email you at 7:00 a.m. and ask if you can be there 8:00 a.m. It happens all the time! The early bird gets the worm so the more frequently you check your messages, the more jobs you will book. It is also important to make sure your client stays current and visible on social media. Keep them on the minds of industry folk. A morning Instagram photo, a tweet or FB post reminds them that your client is available for work. Some sites show the last time you logged in, so even if you don’t post anything, at least login.


3.  Plan ahead. If you know your client has an upcoming booking that requires prep, make sure you are prepared. If you know there is an upcoming swimsuit shoot next week, schedule the waxing appointment for the day before. If you have a younger client you probably want to schedule haircuts a least a week ahead of time. If they have a runway show that will not be providing shoes, start shopping as soon as you find this out. This way you have to time order online and have things shipped or mall shop without panic. Again, this requires that you are on top of the calendar at all times.


4.  Maintain the books. I cannot tell you how important this is! Daily record any and all payments, expenses and/or transactions. Yes, even if you spent .50 at the toll booth get a receipt and record the transaction somewhere! You can plug all toll booth expenses into a spreadsheet with the column heading – Toll Booth Charges, as long as you are consistent. There are lots of software programs out there that will help you do this in a more usable manner, but you have to start somewhere. Whatever you do, make sure your client gives you all receipts so you can keep the books update. Additionally, as your client starts booking more paid jobs, you can lose track of incoming payments. I maintain a separate log with the dates of bookings, the rate and when the payment was received. This way I can easily keep track of missing payments.


5.  Stay current. Review fashion blogs and industry trades to stay current on trends. Pinterest is a great way to do this. You can also use sites like Vogue, Women’s Wear Daily, Net-A-Porter, Vanity Fair, and InStyle, to name a few. Since your client is a model, you have to think like a model. (Hey that could be a movie title – or maybe that has already been done.) I cannot emphasize how important it is to be in the industry know. Even if it is just a quick review of an article or two per day, know what is hot and know what other models are doing in the business.


6.  Daily coaching. As much as your model loves what they do, they still need encouragement. There is a lot of pressure and rejection that come with this business. You will have always spend time, even if it is just to let them know when they are not selected that something greater lies in the horizon or that the campaign they just landed is a match made in heaven. The difficulty with coaching is balance. Constructive criticism can be taken as a negativism and a critique can be viewed as attacking. This is where your mom hat reigns supreme because you know your child better than anyone. Your tone, body language and timing make all the difference on how your coaching will be received. For example, my client never takes a critique well if she is hungry. Whatever you are going to say, make sure you feed the lion before you say it! It makes a huge difference.


7. Visualize. Always spend some time thinking about or planning the next project you want your client to undertake. This is where your creativity gets to shine through. It can be something as simple as spending time on Pinterest for photo shoot concepts. It could be watching a music video or television commercial that lends itself to a new look you want your client recreate. In your daily meditation a crystal clear idea may come to you about what they can do next. Your mission is to capture that idea. You have to intentionally place yourself in a mode of creativity so that ideas can flow through you. You can use any number of tools to accomplish this, cell phone, computer, a handy-dandy notebook or even a Post-It note. The important part is CAPTURING IT. I am a visual person so I use Microsoft PowerPoint a lot for this task. I have a concepts document and I make a slide per concept. On each slide I incorporate images and notes about my idea and I date it. These are like mini story boards and this is my go to source when I am explaining an idea to my client. So when I approach a photographer for a shoot, we have concepts already waiting. If my client wants a fresh new look, I am ready. If there is something that I think will expand my client’s brand, I am already ahead of the game. I will be writing more about this topic in future blogs.


Don’t get discouraged! I know this sounds like A LOT TO DO. Organization is the key. Spending time daily will help you stay ahead of the proverbial curve ball. Most things can be done right from your cell phone. Happy Momager-ing!


30 Days Until the Model Leaves the Nest

There are only 31 days left! It has been more than ten years since my eight year old walked into my bedroom and announced that she wanted to be a supermodel after watching a documentary about Naomi Campbell. Now, she is packing and searching for an apartment in New York City and deciding if Brooklyn, Manhattan or Queens is the best part of the city for her. This is an exciting time for me because I have traveled this journey right by her side through the years in preparation for this time. The only problem is I am scared to death! Sending your child from a familiar southern suburban community to the BIG apple is slightly traumatic no matter how long you have prepared. Like most parents, I am trying to pretend as if I am completely confident and not worried at all about the ensuing voyage but my heart quivers a bit every time I think about the coming day – November 1, 2014.


For the next 31 days I will be sharing my joy and tears as my daughter, model and muse prepares to move to the fashion capital to pursue her dreams and chase supermodeldom. I am trying to remember why I encouraged this path when she initially professed her desires. A nice local university looks much more appealing now that we are here!


I am now tasked with figuring out how to continue doing this job from a distance. What exactly will I be doing with my time now she is moving 1600 miles away? The last eight years have been spent portfolio building, driving to Go-Sees, attending fashion shows, booking photo shoots, wardrobe styling, website developing, coaching, managing, mentoring and learning everything possible about the modeling industry. It is certainly going to make arguing in the car on the way to fashion shows more difficult!


We didn’t get here by walking along a beach and some scout spotting her and whisking her off to Milan. We have worked very hard to get where we are now. There has been significant time and financial investment in the pursuit of “the dream”. Some people don’t look at modeling as requiring a skill or talent like acting, singing or dancing. They view modeling as just being born tall, slender and beautiful. For some this may be the case, but for many models it has been a labor of love to achieve their level of success and that didn’t start at age 19. Just like a seasoned athlete, it started at age 12 or even younger.


It is now my mission to tell others what they can do to prepare their aspiring model for a career in this industry. So much more is involved than just taking your child through the doors of an agency and “signing them up.” I hope to save you some time, resources, worry and heart ache by sharing my experience as a momager. You can also experience my role as I evolve with new distance constraints. Every model had a manager before they hired a manager. The REAL Managers of Models starts with their mom (or dad).