Plus fashion pioneer, Alexandra Boos, has propelled the industry forward by working as a model, on-air spokesperson, fashion, fit, and brand consultant, fashion PR and marketer, fashion show and photo shoot producer, as well as Marketing and Creative Director of the top plus fashion magazine. Led by a spiritual business model, she launched the Curves board at a Manhattan modeling agency. She currently manages various celebrity talent. In 2016, Alexandra was honored as a LEGEND by FFF Week.
If you are interested in modeling or want to know a bit more about the fashion world, enjoy my Q&A with this dynamic powerhouse.
Natasha: For aspiring models that are not currently signed, can you break down the difference between a Modeling Agency and Management company?
Alexandra: The line can be blurry. There are legalities involved such as the percentage you can take from talent as well as who can negotiate contracts on behalf of talent. But both agencies and managers advice on career moves. Most agencies are now in management, not just booking, but developing the talent from ground zero up. Back in the day, everyone working had representation. Now with social media, brands can connect easily with models and therefore more models can be freelance. I am old school, as I loved working with my exclusive agency. Not only does an exclusive agent feel like home but also, they invest in the development of talent and help with potential issues such as non-payment.
Natasha: Do models have to pay the agent or manager outside of commissions?
Alexandra: Twenty percent is the industry standard. It really hasn’t changed. I modeled 20+ years ago and it was the same then as well. After reaching supermodel level, talent may be able to negotiate a reduced percentage.
Natasha: So assuming you guys find a model you wish to sign, can you break down step by step what happens next in the on-boarding process?
Alexandra: The internet has changed everything. There used to be open calls. Now, you go on the agency website, upload pictures, and measurements, and if they are interested, they will contact you. The agency will do due diligence on the prospective talent and check her out on social media. She has to be the kind of a woman a brand wants representing them. Inside advice: Everything you do publicly is a part of your personal voice and both fashion brands and agencies are watching what you put out on social media. If they check out your feed and love you, then the next step is an invitation to come in person for a meet and greet as well as to get measured. Preparing for that interview, wear something flattering that shows your shape. Remember that you will be measured so wear a supportive bra and panty on underneath your outfit. I hate to have to say this but do not forget personal hygiene – be groomed as if you are ready for a booking. You would be surprised how many women come in unshaved and without deodorant. Next, you will be measured – and often in your panties and bra – so they can know if you’re a good fit. Sometimes women don’t know their correct measurements or look very different than their pictures. Some are inauthentic about reporting their measurements or airbrush their photos. When you come in person, you will get busted so don’t waste your time or the agent’s time not being truthful. Being authentic pays off because you never know what the agency is looking for.
There are many timelines for being signed. You can be signed that day or be asked to come back in a month or two months. The big thing is not to compare yourself to other people. Everyone has his or her own journey and the way it organically unfolds. If something about you is not ready, it is better to grow so that when you do reach the next level of success, you don’t fall flat on your face.
Natasha: Can you walk me through the process of how you match models with jobs?
Alexandra: I interview my talent and find out what dreams are in their heart. What is your message and your voice? This feeds into the direction of their career. What is the look of the brand? Age? Size? Intuitively, I find a client with whom the model “clicks”. During my career, one client used me as a model of for 17 years for 4-6 photo shoots a year. They were a lovely group of people and became family. I was very blessed to have that experience. I strive to for my talent to find that type of experience. At the end of the day, that is what life’s all about.
Natasha: Do you provide any support or training for signed models?
Alexandra: A lot of girls think they can show up and they’re ready to be stars. It takes a lot of hard work to be a good model. You have to learn new skillsets, master social media, become PR savvy, study other models, and know the players and brands in the industry. Now more than ever, you have to have a presence on social media. And, have faith that when the time is right, your career will take off.
Here is the truth: the career you are having is a reflection of the career you feel you deserve. The more you empower yourself authentically, the more you will see advancement in your life.
Unfortunately, we can sabotage ourselves. I see it happen with talent all the time. Everything is in place and then a model will get in his or her way with self-sabotage. There is a huge psychological component to success. Just because fashion is external doesn’t mean succeeding at fashion is an external thing only. There is an internal component that is much more important.
Natasha: How do you typically find new talent?
Alexandra: 1) Social media. It made the world very small. Both agencies and brands are looking around on social media for new talent all the time. 2) Networking and industry events 3) Everywhere – I’ve approached people at anywhere from supermarkets to Starbucks.
Natasha: Do you see an uptick in the demand for plus-size models?
Alexandra: It’s really interesting. I’ve been in the industry long enough to see the patterns. There will be demands for larger women for a period, then smaller later on. Now, the pendulum is swinging both ways, with a cry for both the smaller and larger sizes of plus size women. The division between plus and straight-sized may be going away as we see more inclusivity and diversity. Natural hair is in demand now, as an example. With the Internet, women have been able to take to social media and share their voices. The customer has never been more powerful as designers are listening to what they want to wear. Hence, we have a greater effect on the fashion industry.
Natasha: Which types of jobs typically pay the highest fees? (Runway, photoshoot, Fitting etc)
Alexandra: When people typically think of modeling, they envision standing in front of a camera or on a catwalk. But it is Fit modeling that is the most consistent with a high hourly rate, thus offering security. A fashion campaign model can earn a lot in one day, but it may lack steadiness. The average modeling career is 6 years for straight size, but longer for plus size.
Natasha: How does an agency find jobs for its models?
Alexandra: Business is all about relationships. So, everything from pitching emails, networking, calling clients, and connections. The best relationship between the agency and model is when they work collaboratively. An agency takes 20% of each job and the model takes 80%. Hence, the model should feel motivated to do 80% of the work. If talent remains idle while the agency does all of the work, his or her career will evolve very slowly. Talent should be working as hard or harder toward developing his or her career as the agency.
Natasha: Are the model’s community oriented?
Alexandra: I personally believe we are here to serve so I try to encourage giving back. And I feel we’ve built a beautiful support system with our board. If one girl launches a campaign, other girls will take the time to support her efforts. You have to hammer home with the talent there is no such thing as competition. There is enough to go around. It is a real lesson to learn. What is yours is yours by divine right.
Natasha: Any last minute advice?
Alexandra: I want to talk about good old-fashioned kindness. No one wants to work with a miserable person. Be a good person of integrity and kindness. People will remember that and want to work with you. I teach this to all models.
Thank you, Alexandra, for sharing your wisdom and positive vibes to us all!