How and when did you begin in modeling?
When I was twelve-years-old I was scouted and signed by Donna Baldwin Agency in Denver. I started attending local castings where I was categorized as a “tween”— it was an awkward period, and I was never right for the job. But each casting I went into, I was a little more sure of myself and polished.
Eventually, I started shooting with local photographers and walking in local shows. Working with Denver-area creatives taught me to trust their visions and ideas.
I developed a love for the art we created together and fell in love with the collaboration. At fourteen, I was signed with my agencies in Los Angeles and New York City and began traveling every summer to work. In retrospect, having this opportunity at a young age taught me so many skills — from how to conduct professional interactions to being flexible and adaptable in any situation.
What are the biggest lessons you have learned throughout your modeling career?
I’m sure for most of my family, friends, and peers it looked seamless… but for me, it was hard work… sometimes rewarding, sometimes soul-crushing. I’ve learned that expressing gratitude to the people I’ve worked with makes them feel really good and makes me feel great. I always made it a point to send thank you notes.
Over the years, the entire process has become a rewarding ritual. Also, my mom used to say after a shoot or a show, “If that’s your last job, wasn’t it phenomenal to have that experience?” It’s really made me appreciate everyone and everything I’ve done through modeling.
What prompted you to attend the University of Colorado at Boulder?
During my senior year of high school, I went to New York City, London, and Paris for two different fashion months. After graduating I was totally motivated to be a full-time model. After a summer stint in Spain, traveling and living in New York and London, I started to notice a change in my interests: I became more and more curious about the business of fashion, the amazing people I was meeting, and the worlds they had built.
When I saw the rewards these “Boss Creatives” received from accepting challenges and realizing their visions, I wanted a piece of that. For many reasons, modeling was not providing a space for me to do the same. So, it’s no wonder after seeing these people operate, I wanted to go to school.
I’m ready to find a direction I’m passionate to pursue at the Leeds Business School at CU. I’m excited to find out what the future holds. I don’t know where it will take me, but knowing where I’ve been, I feel good about where I’m headed.
What issues are close to your heart and why?
The career path of a fashion model is very nontraditional. On one hand, a woman is supposed to be a globe-trotting muse, someone who is fascinating and beguiling, and commanding of attention. In truth, the year I spent working as a full-time, traveling model was lonely, disempowering and rife with anxiety.
Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful. But I wasn’t having the kind of success that I needed to get momentum. I found myself at crossroads in modeling where I needed to either double-down or move on.
Maybe sensing my apathy, I actually had two agents say something along the lines of: “The problem with American girls is that you have too many options.” That didn’t sit right with me. At that point, I felt I needed to take control over my life and my direction.
I saw business school as my path forward. I feel strongly that women should always have choices and self-determination. I support women, women-owned businesses, young women, and their visions for success. As I progress through school, I will continue to focus my energy on being a “girl’s girl” in the business world, looking for ways to provide opportunities and options for them.
What has traveling across the world taught you?
At first, I traveled everywhere with my mom. When I graduated from high school, with the support of my mom, dad, and little brother, I was ready to travel and live on my own. At 18, that alone was very empowering. I also learned my true value is not in how I look, but in how I work with my fellow creatives. As my mom says, “skinny is not your skillset,” which just means being relatable, hardworking, and kind are the strengths I bring to set, the showroom, or to a runway.
People liked working with me because of who I am, not just what I am. That translated no matter where I was in the world.
How has your understanding of the modeling business changed over time?
It’s important for me to acknowledge I’m hard on myself, and I didn’t have the breakout success my agents had expected of me. When I was first signed in NYC and LA, my agents said I was getting looks from fashion’s most exclusive casting directors. But through the years, as those casting directors took good hard looks and ultimately passed on me, I learned it would be very difficult to change their minds. For the longest time, I was convinced my success was dependent on their approval.
During London Fashion Week Autumn/Winter ’18 I vibed well with designers who made me feel empowered, and in NYC during Spring/Summer ’19 I hit my pocket with designers who dressed “Boss” women.
Looking back, I’ve met and worked with visionaries who have a lust for life, and who have found joy through leadership. It has molded the way I want to see myself. I still love being a model and being in the middle of a creative hive. I don’t think that will ever change, but I will have different roles to play.
What advice would you offer a young professional in your field?
There are factors outside of your control, like certain industry physical standards you have to meet in order to work regularly and make enough money to sustain yourself. Also, luck has to be on your side.
Beyond that, you have to be self-motivated, deal well with constant rejection, have good representation, and a great support system. If you have all of those things going for you, the best advice I can give is to express gratitude and feel grateful for every experience.