A Model’s Unfiltered Thoughts on Agencies

Photo by Annika Forslund

I’ve been quarreling with myself on this topic for months now. I have provided you with plenty of info on modeling agencies in the past. However, I feel there is a missing element. Bias. Today I will impart my bias in regards to the topic of agencies. Today I will open up.

While I have not had a horrendous experience with agencies, like some, it has not been particularly pleasant either. Often, agencies have felt very intimidating, even bully-like.

A model is hardly ever allowed to be herself. She is scrutinized in detail. She is never good enough, always expected to fill in this role of the unattainable. As a society, our beauty standards are warped. They are unrealistic. Yet, young girls are expected to conform. This is what it feels like to be a model. Moldable.

At age 15, I was told I had too much baby fat. My legs have been called doughy. Some people have told me I can’t “make it” due to my size. That I have to conform. I have been pressured and harassed about my skin, urged to see a dermatologist I couldn’t afford, for a problem that was occurring because of my genes, and because I was unhealthy. Being with an agency has always been a stressful experience for me. I was always pressured one way or another, bullied strategically, bossed around, and strung along waiting for my paychecks.

This is my bias. And the experience is not too different from those girls around me.

Girls. We are women, young women. Yet, why do I keep calling all models girls? It is because even I feel diminished as a model sometimes. We are girls. Young. To be manipulated. Some never grow up. Some never learn. Some girls grow up learning from this industry and are left wondering what is wrong.

Agencies not paying their models has become a norm. Clients paying months after a job. Sexual harassment on jobs, and bullying. How can they get away with this?

For one, the industry remains wildly unregulated. On the other hand: we let them. A year ago, I decided I no longer wanted to be taken advantage of by a shady company with only their own interests in mind.

Unfortunately, a model can’t advance her career much without an agency.

To be fair, I have had a lot of exciting moments with my agencies. I have been in Mercedes-Benz fashion week. I have booked huge, lucrative photo shoots. I have been given the chance to book career-changing campaigns. I have been in Anna Wintour’s office building. There are always the plus sides. I often found myself in exciting jobs and opportunities I wouldn’t have gotten without an agency.

Without having been with the agencies I have been with, I wouldn’t be where I am as a model today. My portfolio is strong. My experience is strong. From the platform of being signed with an agency, I have been given the opportunity to expand and grow, not only as a model, but as a woman.

Here’s the thing. We can change this. Together. The fashion industry doesn’t have to be a harsh reality, but a positive environment.

My experiences in the fashion industry have pushed me to create a revolution. I want to promote positive change and health. Poor, low quality living is generally secretly applauded by many industry peers. Young girls loosing too much weight is celebrated! This helps perpetuate and encourage eating disorders among young girls across the globe.

So I need your help. Soon, I will be launching a crowd-funding campaign for We Speak, the agency of the future. I’m creating a healthy branding system for retail and fashion brands to use to encourage healthy living, and healthy women.

If you help fund and promote this mission, you are contributing your piece of a huge undertaking and fashion revolution. The industry has made small movements to a more positive industry, yet the experiences detailed above are still very much alive. Are you ready to roar?

www.facebook.com/wespeakny

Be Fierce!!

Briauna Mariah (:
Founder of We Speak
(917) 274-7324

P.S. We are on the lookout for experienced, healthy models in NYC! Email briaunamariah@gmail.com for submissions (our email system and site is currently undergoing construction!)

5 Networking Resolutions for 2014

Power of Networking

Over and over again, I keep coming to the topic of Networking when it comes to my modeling and thinking of the knowledge I have to share. I cannot emphasize enough how important networking is to really any industry professional.

I recently slogged through a long period of no networking, no photoshoots, and no action. My business as a model was stagnant and I felt rather defeated. I waited to be able to reboot my system. The reboot I required was a month of networking back at home, where I was surrounded by comfortable familiarity.

The month at home was a great refresher and it brought me to realize that I had done very little real networking during my time in New York. Back in Seattle, I made strong relationships and work flowed in. Once I got back to New York, I knew that, because things had grown stagnant, something had to change. After my holiday vacation, I came home, and started networking again. I’ve been home only six days and I’ve gained almost ten new facebook fans and have booked shoots not only in New York, but in areas such as DC as well.

Networking is all about relationships. And in a world that revolves around who you know and, unfortunately, not so much what you know, networking is essential to most all professions. Continue reading “5 Networking Resolutions for 2014”

Agency Qualities to Look For

When you are seeking representation and meeting with modeling agencies, you should get to know the people at the agency and get a feel for the place. I won’t get into too many specifics on how to become a model, as it has been previously discussed, but I will say that choosing an agency that will best fit your needs, if you do choose not to freelance, is very important. You do not want to get signed, and then get buried in the agency’s “New Faces” department. This could easily happen with any big agency.

You want to look for a very “quality over quantity” vibe. However, even if they are really excited about your look, there are no guarantees of a successful relationship. An agency that pays attention, with an open line of communication, are generally good signs. Continue reading “Agency Qualities to Look For”

Young Models & Preparation for the Industry

Guys, if you haven’t heard, the fashion industry is changing. Big things are in motion. Big, good, things that protect you younger models out there. This is great!

But!

The fashion industry is still, well, a bit raunchy, shady, and over-saturated. These are all things I really do think everyone should be aware of before deciding to pursue a career in modeling. While it is a lot safer, I think, and nicer in “hometown” areas like Seattle and Portland, big cities like New York are crawling with less-than-ideal circumstances.

What do I do, then, when a beautiful, smart, young girl looks to me–me!–for modeling advice? About 75 percent of me wants to warn her of all the bad, to steer her away! But look at me. I’m here. I’m doing it. What am I to steer anyone away?

I love what I do. It works for me and my lifestyle. It’s not for everyone, but that’s not for me to decide.  If you’re pursuing a career in modeling, I want you to know what you’re getting into and make sure you have your parents backing you up and giving you sound advice. Continue reading “Young Models & Preparation for the Industry”

Finding Inspiration

This Bold Life and I have this on again, off again relationship. I had set a goal of 2 blog posts per week for you guys months back. Consistent information, updates, and experiences shared with you. However, the really good stuff only comes sporadically. That’s what it’s like to be a writer. I must write when the words start flowing.

Like writing, sometimes inspiration is hard to find.

But when you find it, it’s quite magical.

Inspiration isn’t, ‘oh, what a pretty dress,’ or ‘this is beautiful, I love this.’ Inspiration is moving. Literally. Really good inspiration gets your gears working, clicking into place, and suddenly, you’re up and replying, feeding off that inspiration.

Inspiration comes from another human’s boldness, courage, determination, hard work, and beautiful results and realizations. Inspiration is when you are a photographer who instills confidence in your subjects every day and, upon braving out the commitment to being the one in front of the camera, realize something deep, realizing, “That’s me, that’s beautiful, I’m beautiful!” (Read about Dana Kae’s profound, beautiful experience here). Inspiration is health and joy, like a woman staying fit for 22 years, not in it for the results, but for the wonderful feeling of being healthy. (This is Laura’s lifestyle, who shares her journey here).

These days, my main form of inspiration is through social media. There are so many stories to be shared and heard. If you know where to look, the options are endless. In my search for inspiration, here are just a few of my finds. Continue reading “Finding Inspiration”

10 Qualities a Model Looks For in Photographers

NOTE: This post is informational for photographers nearly as much as it is for young models.

It is universal knowledge that a model needs photos of herself in her portfolio; the only way to go about this is to collaborate with different photographers. How she goes about building a model portfolio depends on a few different factors and is up to her (and her agency) to decide.

A model will mainly begin building her portfolio either by hiring a photographer or collaborating on a (free) trade shoot or test shoot. As she begins shooting and building up her reputation, she has the position to be more choosy with who she shoots with. Only then, when she has a reputable portfolio, may she ask the photographers for compensation when she is requested for a shoot. However, there are some collaborations even an experienced model won’t want to pass up.

You can automatically assume any work with a designer needs to be paid, since they are advertising an actual product. With photographers, however, it gets tricky.

Here are 10 qualities an experienced model looks for in a photographer when testing for free Continue reading “10 Qualities a Model Looks For in Photographers”

Model Fuse vs Model Mayhem: Review

**UPDATE: Sadly, Model Fuse has seemed to disappeared off the internet. Unfortunate, because they showed promise. But it just goes to show how difficult it can be to get a ‘leg up’ over competition (especially established). In the meantime, my good model friend Sierra Mckenzie is working on her own Freelance Models project. Feel free to click and check it out!**

MFuseLLC

I was recently informed of a new model networking site called Model Fuse. I decided to do something different for my blog by giving this site a try and writing a review on it. I created my profile and the process was extremely simple, as any good social media site these days should be. Navigation and acquainting myself with the site was easy as well. 

I had this idea to set out and book a shoot through this site. That’s what seems to be their whole philosophy: Their goal is to get freelancers work, with the whole industry at your fingertips, on one website. 

The problem is, many models already use a site for just that. It’s called Model MayhemContinue reading “Model Fuse vs Model Mayhem: Review”

How to Become a Fashion Model

How to start your career as a fashion model…(REVISITED!)

There are several things to consider when you begin modeling. Every young girl grows up thinking she wants to be a model (well, not ALL). The fashion industry is put upon a pedestal by many and it is one TOUGH industry to break. Modeling is extremely rewarding if you are passionate, but you won’t get anywhere unless you ARE passionate and give your all (*see disclaimer below).

Girls start in the fashion industry very young, which is a very popular topic for discussion these days. Many models I know and know of, however, are very smart and not only make sure to finish high school, but they go above and beyond and attend college. I myself have completed my Associates degree. I recommend a lot of thought to be put into the decision of pursuing a start in modeling.

So. How passionate are you? Continue reading “How to Become a Fashion Model”

Networking: 3 Things to Remember: pt 1 Social Media

Okay. Networking.

I love networking! I love lovely people and sharing thoughts, ideas, experiences. The term “it’s all about who you know” applies to everyone, everywhere. Once you realize that this is an essential piece of knowledge, you can continue forward, putting yourself in situations to meet experienced and talented individuals. As a model, a good majority of my time is spent networking. Why do you think I am always on Facebook?

Just through internet networking (Model Mayhem), I have had the amazing chance to work with Matthew Jordan Smith, a photographer from LA who has shot Tyra Banks, Oprah Winfry, and more. I have had the opportunity to work with Antoinette Beenders, a renowned global stylist for Aveda. I know people who know people. Connections can get you anywhere if you know how to use them.

When I think networking, the first three things that come to mind are social media, events, and chance encounters.

I’m going to dive right into what I know about social media in part one of this three part blog post and tell you about what techniques work best for me for networking through this avenue. Continue reading “Networking: 3 Things to Remember: pt 1 Social Media”

Building a Top-Notch Modeling Portfolio: Physical and Online Portfolio

Physical and Online Portfolio:
Even with all the conceptual planning and building a great team, not all of your test shoots are going to be a success and some may only have one or two good looks that could be portfolio material. Although, LOTS of planning does help. Some shoots, on the other hand, could be a huge success and you’ll have difficulty choosing which photos to put in your portfolio.

If you’re shooting enough, you are gaining great practice and experience. You can never stop getting better. The sky is the limit. Also if you’re shooting enough, you should end up with a large selection of potential shots for your portfolio. It helps to organize the photos into folders on your computer so you can keep track of everything. Personally, I like to organize by photographer. I dedicate a special folder to snapshots I snag of me that have appeared on websites, magazines, etc. As you select photos, keep your eye on the prize and make sure that the quality matches up to where you want to be, and beyond! Continue reading “Building a Top-Notch Modeling Portfolio: Physical and Online Portfolio”