Agnieszka WichniewiczSurprisingly, for someone that has become a legend in this industry, Kelly Streit insists he would not do it all over again. "For the amount of hours I put in there are a lot of other ways to make a lot more money... but then it boils down to, 'Is it all about the money?' I love what I do, and I'd like to do something in this industry. But to make a living out of this industry is a struggle."
Making the struggle a lot easier is the team Streit refers to as "his veins": International Model Managers Tonya Albulet and Liz Coffey; and Jenn Kletke in New Faces. The abundance of talent that hails from Alberta doesn't hurt either.
Streit insists however, it isn't geography that is responsible for his success. "If I was uprooted and placed in Timbuktu, or in Northern Ontario, or Halifax or Prince Edward Island, I would within a few years build a roster."
When I first sat down with Kelly in 1998 we talked about his success and how he could do very well in New York. He wasn't interested. I asked him about it again for this article. "I'm so comfortable here. I have family here. I think one of the most important things for me now especially is that we have a daughter, and we want her to know her grandparents and to know the people around her. And when you take off and leave, and you have family, you leave that as well.
Kim Renneberg"We could pick up and open in New York - but it's just a good feeling to know you can look at your board and know that the ones you're mother agency to, are as strong as agencies in New York that they are not mother agency to. Some of the smaller ones don't have a Heather, they don't have a Marla, they don't have a Julia, they don't have a Tricia, Agnieszka - all the money girls we have."
"We also have a lot of girls at the end of their career that are making an absolute fortune, but you never hear their names: Jenny Fletcher, April Kimm, Robin Koch, Kim Renneberg - all those girls had great careers, they were major girls in terms of editorial, and now they're major girls in terms of money."
When does Streit see the end of his own career? He doesn't. He says he can't imagine doing anything else. "I've already got major, major objectives on the horizon... that I won't share... but just the way we're going to do things, and unique ways to make Mode just that much different."
"It's a business that changes every season, so you don't have think of getting a new job - your job changes all the time. Fashion changes every season. If you need a change you're going to have one in four months in this industry."
"Just look how fast the world changes... look how often fashion changes. That's what's on the horizon for me."