Profession: Owner – Director
Agencies: BGM Models, launched 1995.
How did you start in the modeling business?
I started modelling at 30 years of age as one of Australia’s first ‘plus size’ models. Back in the early 80’s you never saw a model larger than a size 8-10 in magazines or on the catwalk. I had always been interested in fashion and thought that modelling would be something that I would love to attempt at that time I was a size 14.
I approached an agency for some work and at first they said No, as no one would book a large model, I said put me on your model board and see what happens. Jobs started to come in and I modelled for over 10 years.
How did you start BGM Models and why?
I started BGM Models when I turned 40 years of age, I had modelled for 10 years and my ‘use by date’ was clearly up so invested in my knowledge of being in front of the camera and what I had learned behind the camera and decided to start my own agency catering only for models size 12+. That was in 1995 and 20 years later we are going strong and growing nationally and internationally with over 65 models.
What’s a typical day like for a booker?
A typical day means long hours sitting at a computer looking at emails, responding to briefs that come in, organising models test shoots, trolling through model applications, speaking to clients organising photo shoots, interviewing models. No day is the same, today I am on email to a client in Mumbai India who wants to book our male plus model Jesse and our size 14+ model Tia who is currently in London and with the time difference my day does not stop at 6pm it can go on into the night. My job is challenging and exciting as the world of fashion is always changing.
How do you renew talent in such a fast-paced and competitive industry?
Finding great plus size models is very hard as the models need to be really comfortable in front of people and the camera. They need to have all the attributes that apply to being a model, good body proportions, good skin, hair, teeth and height.
We tend to offer really fabulous Model Searches and this is where we find new raw talent. This way we can train them up to be great models.
Is there a special formula to find the right model for a specific campaign?
I wish I had a crystal ball to answer this question. No, it is a gut feeling and when it is right for the client the campaign and the model when all these elements come together then the decision on who to book for the job becomes obvious.
What are the changes you have seen in the industry throughout your career and what has changed?
Having been in the industry for 20 years I have seen many changes and this based around department stores and designers really looking at the plus size market and realising that women no matter what their shape want to be fashionable dressed. Dress manufacturers have done focus groups and really listened to what women want and it is evident with the increase of their bottom line and the $$$’s to be made this is an expanding market (excuse the pun).
Magazines who never in the past would ever had considered using a size 4+ model in a lingerie photo shoot are now requesting more and more models for this kind of photo shoot.
Models in Swimwear for size 14+ are now a common occurrence. Women want to see women wearing the lingerie, swimwear and fashion on their similar body shape so they can relate to the item of clothing and buy it.
The internet has completely changed the way we shop and you can now purchase anything from around the world. I recently celebrated a milestone birthday which I was celebrating in Thailand and I wanted something white and gold and dazzling, I ended up finding a website in India and they hand made me my gown and it was stunning.
Nothing is impossible anymore the web has widened the purchasing power of every women no matter what their shape.
As well it has opened another section to my model agency as we do a lot more e-commerce shoots now than we ever did.
Do a lot of new faces come to you via social media?
Not really, our new talent comes via our website application form, this way we get a lot of information and they need to supply 4 photographs, from these we can see immediately if we think they have model potential or not.
What would be your definition of beauty?
To me the definition of beauty is confidence and self-awareness of how amazing everyone women is no matter what their shape and size.
Any advice to give to aspiring models?
Absolutely!!! Research, Research, Research. I cannot stress enough that the majority of new models have no idea of what the industry is really all about. They expect to apply to an agency so as to fulfil their life long dream of being a model and they have no idea, the images you send will be looked at, however, it takes less than 2 seconds for an agency director to decide if she is right just by the photos they have submitted.
If the agency has asked for current digital shots then supply current digital shots, not you on a beach or at dinner or a wedding, they need to see you and no one else.
Do your homework on the agency to see if you are the right fit for them. I have written a Model Course and it is available on the web. WWW.MODELCOURSE.COM this is a valuable tool where you will learn everything that you need to be part of this amazing modelling world.
What are the rewarding aspects of your job?
Finding a model, teaching her about the world of modelling and loving it when she gets a great job. One of my Melbourne models has been modelling for a couple of years doing some showings and lingerie e-commerce for web based clients, however, this week she snared her first international modelling gig flying to Manilla in the Philippines to shoot for AVON, that makes me excited and to continue to promote authentic plus-size models in this fabulous world of modelling.