September 9, 2021
B&M's 's Kelly Foss
The summer has almost come to an end and now I am beginning to say my final goodbyes. Over the past five months, travelling from the Caribbean to Hong Kong to Tokyo has been my greatest life experience. Working as a model has been the best way for me to see the world, meet new people, make new friendships, and gain modelling experience that will advance my international career. Not to mention I got to benefit from sweet industry perks: VIP access to wicked concerts, free food and beverages at classy restaurants and lounges, access to high end runway shows including Diesel and Versace, and the opportunity to rub shoulders with the likes of Hugh Jackman, the bands 311, Lost Profits, John Mayer, among many other music, film, and fashion industry people. In a nutshell, my summer rocked and I cannot wait to travel again.
This Asian adventure, otherwise known as my summer job, really made me learn a lot about myself and encouraged me to think about the path I want to follow in my future. I do want to continue modelling because it has become a passion of mine. I am also equally passionate about writing and working in the television industry; interests that I hope will lead me to a successful career in television broadcasting. Though, before I jump into a journalism career, today I hope to take some time to focus on modelling. It's really not a bad idea either. I believe that the experience I am gaining from modelling is helping me become better prepared for the working world. Prior to jet setting to Hong Kong I admit that I was somewhat stuck in what I call the "Western Bubble," however with travelling, being on my own, and conversing with interesting people from around the globe, I have acquired new knowledge and gained independence and strength. Now I feel more capable and ready to graduate from University and eventually move out on my own.
Aside from my personal experiences, I would also like to inform you about what I learned about the modelling industry. The most important thing I learned is that every market is different. That is, every market desires a different model look. For example, in Hong Kong, the mixed/Eurasian look is popular and the editorial industry is much bigger than the commercial one, while in Tokyo, the industry desires younger, darker haired models and the commercial industry is big. However, please understand that markets are also always changing. While in my experience, average sized brown-haired models were more desired in Tokyo, a couple years ago, it was all about white, thin, blonds. Though this does not mean that blonds do not work in Tokyo now, there are still jobs out there for all looks, just not as many. I highly recommend that models should study the market beforehand so that they choose the one that best suites their look.
In continuing with the comparison between Hong Kong and Tokyo, how a model gets around is also different. In Japan, a model is taken to castings by van, where as in Hong Kong models go on their own. Why is this? Well in Tokyo the model is accompanied with a manager to each casting because of the language barrier, however in Hong Kong, most clients speak English so models can speak with them directly and promote themselves.
So how does travelling overseas work? Well, after an agency shows interest, they will offer you a contract overseas for an average of three months. They will pay for the flight fare, your living costs, and give you a weekly allowance (usually around $100 -$150 per week). However, it's important to note that while the agency does pay for a model's stay, he/she must pay back these expenses through his/her earnings. Though it is not uncommon for a model to pay these costs off within the first few weeks of his/her stay. On the other side, some models do not make even enough to pay off these expenses. While this means that the model won't be going home with any money, the good thing is that the model also won't be leaving in debt. In each agreement, if the model does not make enough to pay for his/her expenses, he/she does not have to pay for it. The agency takes a risk on the model. Therefore, if a model breaks even they technically just got a free trip to live and model in another country. It is not uncommon for first time modelling travelers to break even, but it's not a bad thing either. Some of the top models in the world broke even on their first trip. You just have to keep collecting tears and eventually you will attain the quality book you need to land a great guarantee and agency.
So what is a model guarantee? Well, to put it simply, it is a contract agreement that promises models up to thousands of dollars to work in a particular market. In my experience, I learned that Asia rarely offers model guarantees but in Tokyo the majority of agencies offer them. Yet models that are just beginning to build their portfolio internationally are less likely to receive a guarantee than those who have a bunch of tears from a range of markets. Agencies usually look for strong books because it assures them that the model will work well. However this idea is not set in stone. From my experience I met several models that were offered guarantees by agencies in Tokyo and have little to no tears. This goes back to the idea that some win and some lose.
In my opinion, this industry is sometimes all about luck and like most industries it's all about "who you know" that'll get you far. I believe that there are so many models out there that are equally if not more talented than some of the top models out there, but sometimes it's just the luck of the draw and or being at the right place at the right time.
This industry is also highly competitive. There are thousands of working models and the competition is fierce. However, if you wish to compete, you must be smart and strong. Someone will always be taller and prettier or more talented, though it's also important to consider that no one is exactly the same and every client is looking for something different. I believe that just because one client is not interested in you, another will be. So don't give up if it's your dream. Just like the saying goes... "If one door closes another will open."
Speaking of doors opening, I am hoping that this summer experience will bring more modelling opportunities for me in the near future. Upon graduation I would like to travel to another modelling market in Central Europe or Australia because these are two destinations I have always wanted to visit. My ultimate goal is to work as a journalist and model at the same time. Who knows, maybe I can be a travel writer while I model!?
Now before I go, I would like to thank Dan for giving me this opportunity to share my experiences (editors note: "Any time, Kelly!"), and also my Modelresource readers for following my blog. I have had a lot of fun sharing my thoughts and I hope you enjoyed them. I promise to share my experiences in another market with you again soon.
Kelly Foss is a B&M model, currently with Yoshie in Tokyo.