Rebecca Field estimates that she receives no less than 150 emails a day from Melburnians of all ages. Each email contains snapshots of the sender, his or her body measurements, a short profile and the hope of being represented by Mode Talent Management.
As founder and director of Mode, Field has the immense responsibility of handpicking her talents and so she has established the perfect system to power through the daily avalanche of applications.
That system involves automatically rejecting any talent hopeful who submits an image of them scantily dressed. And with this, the number of applicants is instantly slashed by a whopping 90 percent. The remainder is for whom Mode was set up.
“Everyone thinks of models as being skinny, tall and Victoria-Secrets-sexy,” Field, 26, sighs during an interview at the recent League of Extraordinary Women’s breakfast meeting.
“Almost no one thinks of a model as an everyday person with a great smile and personality. It upsets me that the industry is so sexualised and I’m trying to change that perspective. And that really, is Mode’s difference.”
Field, who has acted and modeling since she was three, counts her lucky stars that she grew up with a healthy body image and limited exposure to social media, which she regards as fertile ground for a distorted perception of beauty.
She is particularly appalled by the abundant pictures of young girls and adult women in provocative poses on Instagram where their self-worth is built on the flimsy basis of “Likes” and followers.
So Field is taking it upon herself to shatter the myth that sexuality and popularity on social media aren’t golden tickets to a real career as a commercial talent.
“The industry also wants diversity in terms of age and body size,” she says. “So when I show these girls the work that Mode has done based on these elements, it shocks them and opens their eyes.”
Field, of all people, understands what it means to smash through stereotypes. When she launched Mode in 2012 at the age of 24, she had to stare down the general assumption – and her own insecurity – that her youth equated inexperience.
This was especially unnerving for someone who had seemingly started a business at the drop of a hat. Field was a fresh graduate with a degree in Naturopathy and barely a week into her first job when she was offered two photo shoots and the opportunity to manage a campaign.
A sudden uncertainty about her choice of career path sprung upon her and she found her mind wandering to the work she was missing out on rather than on her current work at a “fabulous company with a great wage”.
When she revisited her entrepreneurial ideas, one leapt out – a talent management company representing talents from various industries. She stayed in her job for two more weeks. Three weeks later, she was officially an entrepreneur.
“When I started out I questioned whether anyone would take a 24-year-old manager seriously,” Field recalls. “I had a couple of male clients who were rather derogatory and I wondered if they would have treated me that way had I been older and male.”
Those encounters left Field fearful of crossing paths with similar clients in the future but she soldiered on, and in putting one firm foot in front of the other she also leaned heavily on her past experience in the industry.
She knew she possessed the knowledge to run systems and manage campaigns. Yet it still took her close to a year before she was confident enough to put her face to the business.
“I felt I looked like a young girl but that has turned out in my favour,” she laughs. “I gain so much more respect for taking a step into business at such a young age and proving myself.”
“At the end of the day it’s about client interaction and quality service. When you are good at those, people will respect you regardless of your age.”
In true entrepreneurial fashion, Field had a few stumbles along the way that included forking out $5,000 for a website that she ended up hating and redesigning herself. And in true entrepreneurial spirit, she readily shares the lessons that she learnt the hard way.
Find a mentor
I thought I could do it all alone. But I didn’t know what I didn’t know so I did many things in a very inconvenient manner. No one told me about liability insurance and I had no idea what a purchase order was. It’s so important to have a mentor in your field to learn from and who will provide a support system.
Design and use templates
I find it very hard to write an email when I’m emotionally tied up in it. So now I have various templates that are well worded and structured which I use to respond to those who have upset me. Templates, whether it’s voice or email, will save you time and emotional energy. My business is so much more efficient now because I’m not wasting time on drafting emails.
Invest in a good website
Make the investments that count. And do your research I thought every web developer was the same but evidently not.
Stand up for your rates
Mode was established out of love so I stand up for its rates and I explain those rates to clients who try to push them down. I give them the benefit of the doubt in that they don’t understand the industry and aren’t being malicious or bullying. But I don’t receive such clients anymore because of how I’ve positioned Mode.
Ask for help
Many of us feel embarrassed asking for help from friends and people in the industry. I had lots of great people help me out which really took the pressure off.
What old perceptions of beauty have you let go of and what new ones have replaced them? Tell us in the comments below!
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