What does a typical day in the life of a model booker look like?
It really varies depending on the time of year, if you’re in show season or not! In general, I will get in, check my emails and deal with anything urgent, which could be anything from missed flights to last-minute replacements for shoots, then catch up with the rest of the booking table. As a booker, you are really client facing, so on the phone and email with brands, photographers and stylists all day. Most days there will be a meeting with a client may be a lunch or dinner. And the models will pop into the office throughout the day, also for meetings, things like strategizing their career, or practising their walk, shooting polaroids, going through outfits, or just general tips for castings and navigating life as a model! If I don’t have a work lunch I always try and get to the gym at lunchtime or to a yoga class, it makes me so much more productive in the afternoon!
How did you get to where you are today? Did you study at college or uni?
I studied fashion communication/ journalism at Ravensbourne in London, which was great as I got to be really creative, for my final project I made a fashion photography book about youth, producing, styling and shooting all the content as well as designing the layout. It was a bit of a crash course in loads of different parts of working behind the scenes in the fashion industry. Really it was my work experience that got me where I am today though, and moving to London was essential for that, although now there are so many great brands outside of the UK in Manchester and Bristol for example, that I think you could do it without having to study in London, but definitely work experience was key for me. Its an industry that is based on relationships, so the sooner you can start building these the better.
I did an internship in the art department at Vogue, and then at a fashion production company called Gainsbury & whiting that produce/ organize fashion shows & events… It was super high energy, long days and stress but worth it when you see a show come together. I loved it. Through this, I met casting director Sarah Murray who I really clicked with and ended up working with for 4 and a half years. Sarah was great to work for and gave me a lot of responsibility early on, she really gave me a massive helping hand into the industry. I worked with her on shows in London, Paris & Milan, choosing models for catwalk shows during fashion week as well as for adverts and editorials, for brands including Vivienne Westwood, Simone Rocha, Temperley London, Vogue magazine, Dazed & Confused magazine, Paul Smith, etc. I was able to work with Sarah alongside studying so by the time I graduated I already had a solid four years of really relevant industry experience.
The summer I left uni I was headhunted for a job at Select Models as an agent on the new faces team. After a year the head of new faces moved to NY and I was promoted. A year later I moved over to head up the new faces team at Elite London & have since then worked in Barcelona and most recently back in London casting models for Topshop. In the 12 years that I have worked either in casting or as an agent, I have been lucky enough to live & travel all over the world, it’s one of my favourite things about it, I have friends all over the place!
What is your biggest success and what are you most proud of?
Honestly, it sounds a bit cheesy but it’s probably my friends. I have such an amazing group of badass, inspiring women that I have been friends with since school. Despite living in different countries we have remained a really close group and I am continually inspired and supported by them. When we come together for big group catch-ups I just look around at these amazing women, all super successful in their own, different fields, constantly thinking how lucky I am to have these amazing women in my life and how special it is that we have remained best friends for two decades. Like anything, relationships take work, you get out what you put in, and I am so proud to have them all around me. I strongly think you are a measure of the people you surround yourself with and if I am half as cool and kind as any of my girls, I know that I am doing life well.
Who inspires you the most?
My girlfriends, my late granny, Ella Fitzgerald (the first African- American woman to win a Grammy in 1959. And one of my favourite singers!) Pam Grier, Emmeline Pankhurst, Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, Beyonce!
What tips would you give to girls wanting to work in the fashion industry?
Work hard and be nice to people! Get as much work experience as you can and get out there to start building those relationships. Make yourself indispensable, when I was interning I was the first person in and the last out, I would literally do anything that needed doing, from making sure my boss had coffee in the morning to walking her dogs! When you take care of the basics, you’ll be able to do the more fun, creative stuff and really learn!
How do you choose your models?
I’m always looking for beauty, someone that has something a bit special and unique as well a lovely personality. It’s so important that models are also professional and nice to work with, being beautiful will get them booked, but being cool and nice to work with, will get them rebooked. It’s not the 90’s anymore, gone are the days of diva behaviour, most producers, casting directors and brands, just want to work with nice, easy models!
What would your advice be to an aspiring model?
Develop your Instagram, find your angle/ what sets you apart and be consistent with it. Clients will often book girls from polaroids and their Instagram now!
Speak to a nutritionist and personal trainer and start a healthy, sustainable & balanced programme, that fits into your life and is achievable. It’s so important to look healthy so the sooner you can establish those healthy habits the better.
Find a reputable agency, you can check the AMA for lists of UK based agencies, or models.com is a great resource also. No reputable agency will ask you for money up front so beware of any of those ‘agencies’ that want you to pay hundreds of pounds up front for a portfolio. Go in and meet the agents, these are the people you are going to be speaking to every day so its important you actually like them! And ask loads of questions.
How is the industry changing? Do you think there’s a real shift in terms of diversity?
Absolutely, and Instagram and social media have been a real zeitgeist in this by providing a platform for girls that maybe traditionally modelling wouldn’t have been an option for. Girls don’t need to be stick thin or super tall to be a successful model now… instagram allows shorter, curvier, or maybe less stereotypically modelly girls to be celebrated for beauty that until recently had maybe been neglected as well as for other talents or quirks.
I think it is also showing brands that consumers want to see more of this, more personality and less perfection, and the industry is responding. Having this accessibility direct to the talent/models means that they are really able to build a persona and showcase other talents and their style and personality. I feel so grateful and so empowered by sport and I also see more empowered women around me, more models speaking up and finding a voice. I find strong women, be it physically or more mentally so inspiring, I am amazed daily at the strength I see in the women around me and I know the dedication and grind that goes into that and I admire it and want to hear what these women have to say!
Its so important to show different shapes and looks, we don’t all look the same and its so important to celebrate this and show young girls that there are other options, that you can be attractive and desirable and on the cover of a glossy magazine at any shape or size, like in last months Cosmopolitan UK. It’s a slow process but its definitely happening.
How would you describe your personal style?
I’m super sporty and will often go to a yoga class at lunchtime, and then go for a run or hit the climbing gym after work, so I tend to wear clothes that are easy to change in and out of and not get crumpled! I’ve climbed for years and have really strong arms, which I used to be a bit self-conscious of five or ten years ago, but now friends that would tell me I looked a bit too muscly, now ask me what I do for them – being healthy and having a strong body is almost a trend now and I am proud of my body and how hard I work at being strong, so I will often wear something sleeveless. I normally keep a pair of plain heels at work so I can make my casual outfit a bit smarter for a lunch or a meeting. I love a good jumpsuit or a co-ordinate!
What are your fave Missguided pieces for AW18?
I love the leopard print denim jacket and high waisted jeans that I am wearing in the picture. They’re really cool and fun but can still look smart enough to wear for work. I am also obsessed with the snake print bucket hat. It reminds me of the Ganni collection one, but at a much more affordable price point! The black, cord jumpsuit is very cool, I will wear this to work with a little cropped t-shirt underneath and some Birkenstocks or pumps. The new collection has some really great, directional pieces, and all super affordable so it’s really easy to follow the trends and nail that transitional dressing.
Photo credit: www.manonetjacob.com
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