Why did you start Innocence?
I used to work as a model myself and my agency did not give me the personal support that I needed. And the other models around me experienced this too! As a result, they didn’t really know where they stood, let alone where their career was going. As a model, you really must reinvent the wheel yourself in that situation. In 2013, there were mostly large agencies, with lots of models on their websites. I thought agencies could be done better and started Innocence Model Agency.
What could be better?When you are 16 years old and just starting out, you need to be taught how to navigate the world. We offer a training program when you sign with us. We mentally prepare models for future work and collaborations with clients. Think of a studio day, workshops on sports / nutrition / mental health and coaching, and don’t forget the financial aspects. We personalise this trajectory to what the model needs. In addition, we regularly travel with models to big adventures and achievements, but also when a model needs support. That is very important. We also had to make strides in diversity: every model on our board is unique, each one has their own personality. We strive to ensure that we do not all offer the same looks on the board to customers.
What should you look for as a model when choosing an agency?
Look for an agency that suits you, in terms of the way you work and think. Tip! Make your choice based on your gut feeling and what suits you as a person at that moment. Every agency, with a large or boutique model database, has the same network – nationally and internationally. We believe that you can get much further if you just have your own booker and time is made for personal contact. A modelling career often has a duration of several years, depending on the age that you start. It has to be strategically set up with your bookers and that will definitely go better with personal guidance.
How can a model take steps towards a better career?
Ask for a regular contact moment if you don’t hear from your agency for a while. Behind the scenes, of course, there is a lot of work going on: you are introduced, there are options… If you don’t talk to them, you don’t get to see this. Availability is extremely important for a model. Communicate clearly with your agency about this as well! Keep in touch, and if you are available for a longer period, come to the office to discuss it. Also, when you are available less, discuss this openly. I also think that agencies should have more understanding for models being unavailable. Imagine you are writing a thesis, then your booker should not keep calling you, but should listen to what you need.
When is there a good relationship between a model and a booker?
When there is understanding, listening and thinking together. As a booker, it is important to take the model along in the intermediate steps. And if there is the option travel with models. Then you can celebrate the successes together, but also be there for the rejections. As a model, you are on your own a lot, travelling from city to city, flat to flat. As a booker, we can play a role in this: we can provide rest and distraction. But also, maybe you enter a model’s flat and think: ‘Is this it?’. As a booker you can organise another place to stay in a few moments.
Do you notice that the industry is changing? And what could be better?
Yes, when I was modelling we didn’t have model personal trainers and we knew so little about how the body works: nutrition combined with sport. TMHP has created a lot more awareness among modelling agencies and clients about, ‘what can we do better for the benefit of the models?’ There is still little understanding of the modelling profession and what it entails. Knowledge about welfare, flying from one place to another – there is still a lot to be gained. And safety on the set: we recently had a model who had to shoot a campaign with shoes that were two sizes too big. That is simply dangerous.
Also, clients are still very size-focused internationally. I hope that we will get to a stage where models are fit and healthy and feel good about themselves. And I wish to see longer modelling careers – male models have much longer careers than female models. We think it is so cool to see models who have been in the business longer!