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Inside the agencyAs someone that used to run an agency in Calgary I feel no shame (okay, a bit of shame) in admitting a lot of what I learned about running that enterprise came from operating in the same market as Kelly Streit. New York photographers would tell me 'you should do a head sheet of nothing but polaroids, just like Kelly.' Local photographers would gush to me about Streit's latest event. On more desperate days I would get one of my models to pretend she was new in town, and call Mode to find out their process for developing new faces.
"I think it's instinct," Streit says now. "I always want to do things differently - I don't want to do things behind. Some people sit back and look how other people are doing it, and then try to perfect it. I would rather jump in with both hands and both feet, and try... and if it doesn't work, change it."
"I don't really think of myself as ahead of the game. People suggest things to me and I take them."
For instance, Streit's IT people suggested if he was to update his website daily he would attract more traffic. The result is a pictorial blog that boasts of Mode Models' many and frequent accomplishments.
Inside the AgencyBut what the website doesn't reveal is the greater influence Streit has had on the industry. A lot less scouts would make the trek to Calgary if Mode didn't have a presence there. More impressively though, is how some of that city's shadier agents changed careers when Streit gained notoriety for finding models more work at less personal expense.
"There are so many people that don't know what they're looking for. They want fame and power and glory, but they don't want to offer any substance back. They think they're a model scout, but they're not.
"And that creates problems because they have kids that come in that don't have potential that shoot all kinds of pictures and spend thousands of dollars. They try to place them, earnest as ever, but they really didn't know what to look for in the first place.
"So why are you taking these people's money when you yourself don't really know if they have potential?
"You have to be current and know what's going on in fashion, you have to have your ear to the ground, you have to know how to 'can' them - and by that I mean how to cut the hair and make them look special."