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Sutherland Models


Lisa Cant is among the better-known models
on Sutherland's roster

Ann Sutherland was someone I had wanted to meet for a long time. Although I only met her for the first time last year, her reputation as a smart, tough business person had reached me years before.

As a university summer project she opened a modelling agency in her hometown of Ottawa. Then, in finishing her degree she produced a policy report on the modelling industry. "One of the conclusions I came up with was that you couldn't operate a full-fledged international modelling agency in Ottawa." So, she opened in Toronto.

Sutherland prides herself on being on top of the accounting, which she adamantly refers to as "the backbone of any business." She speaks proudly of never having problems with payroll of her models not having problems with their accounts. "That's where I have an advantage with my strong business foundation."

She also believes strongly that a business takes on the characteristics of its leader. Says Sutherland, "I think I'm a good role model."

She's also a good trend spotter. "We were the third agency in the world to go on Modelwire." (the online system that modernized the way modelling agencies handle their castings and bookings). "We're not in the biggest market, and I recognized that, but it was the wave of the future. We could have built a big website, but what we use instead is very efficient."

I asked Sutherland about her reputation as a tough, smart, business person. Her face lit up. "Do I still have that reputation? I think it's funny I still have that reputation. When I came out of business school I was definitely the only model agent who walked around in a suit. I could have been on Bay Street. As you can see I've toned down quite a bit (she wore a printed floral skirt and jean jacket the day I spoke with her). I think I fit in with everyone else.

"I think it's true, what a lot of people think, that I'm a focused business person. There may be other agents more in touch with their artistic side, but I know that side as well. I'm very balanced.

"I think we are the hardest working agency in the city. I think we have to prove ourselves all the time. I think the people that work here are very hard-working and dedicated, and when they take on a model, that model will never do any better anywhere else."