A former booking agent, British-Ghanaian Nana Tamakloe established Confidence Model Management in London in 2006. The agency is now recognized as one of the UK’s most recognized modeling agencies catering to diverse clientele and with a fair representation of models of all ethnic backgrounds. In this exclusive interview with Ladybrille Magazine, Tamakloe talks about the challenges and victories of operating a model agency and also offers great advice to all model hopefuls on how to become a model! Enjoy.
Ladybrille.com: Thank you for agreeing to do this interview. How are you?
Nana: Im great as always, and thanks very much for having me here. I’ve had my eyes on ladybrille ever since it started and I’m more than flattered to now be featured inside. It shows progress is in motion.
Ladybrille.com: What is your educational background?
Nana: I have a degree in social science, and I dropped out of my Computer degree masters because it was boring and computing wasn’t where I wanted to go if art wasn’t related.
Ladybrille.com: How and why did you decide to get into the fashion modeling world?
Nana: I was into music and I used to organize events. I was then approached by a friend of mine to help him shoot his music video in one of my nights. So to spice it up we put a call for people to fill up the venue and have a good time with free drinks. A few ladies came along assuming it was a video model call. In the process we got talking and I got to find out 2 of them were really eager to break through as models but had no clue where to start and the other 1 was always talking about her modelling opportunities and how progressive she is. So a few weeks down the line I had a talk with the lady who claimed to have lots of jobs and possibly set up and agency where we could start with the other two.
The objective was that it would be her agency and I will assist with the promoting and scouting and so forth. So we had the website done, we scouted a few models and came back to her to find out what she will call the agency. She did not come up with a name because she couldn’t think of one. Further more we were waiting for her to fill the information for the company, About the company, who she is, the contact everything, and we waited for months and this lady was still not doing anything. And so we had all these angry girls on the agency wondering where are my jobs, so we thought, look we scouted the models, we came up with the name, we got the website going, we are going to be doing the promotion anyway, hell why don’t we just run it ourselves. And that’s how we became an agency for some strange reason in this world. That’s what happens when you try to help, you change your life around. (Laughs)
Ladybrille.com:(Laughs) Trust me I so get you. We get a lot of questions from many model hopefuls who want to models. For the territory you cover, give our model hopefuls tips on what it takes to become a model?
Nana: Determination, the will to learn from mistakes, maintaining all bridges you make along the way, great personality, and most importantly READ and ask QUESTIONS when you do not think something is right!
Ladybrille.com: What is Confidence Model Management all about?
Nana: It’s about new, its about the under dogs, its about challenging, it’s about leading, breaking through, being you and not following. It’s about having Confidence. Not arrogance but Confidence.
Ladybrille.com: I feel you. How did the name come about?
Nana: Coming up with a name for our agency was quite tough. We had girls of all variations, many black girls, many mainstream European girls and also many girls that didn’t look like the typical commercial model. We wanted a word that made sense to us but at the same time didn’t really trouble the brain. In fact many people wanted to think of something that will describe us, I wanted to think of something that will direct us, guide us and move us on, and Confidence was the word. We were a small agency in an industry that is heavily biased and mainly favors the successful and the norm such as what is in fashion, hence the fashion industry. In this case Confidence is what would drive us through with all our unique faces and ethnic models and status in the industry. And 4 years later here we are. Not there yet, but here, and here is very good for that amount of time.
Ladybrille.com: Share with us a few of your successes and 1 of the greatest challenges you have faced in operating your model business?
Nana: Personally the greatest challenges was having to be as professional as I could to the tee. I was a straight, young black male with no previous history in fashion scouting girls and having to meet them or train them at my place. The doubts were already in the air from potential models, critics, competitive agencies, models you rejected, all of them just waiting for something to pin point at me and kick off the rumors. In fact one competitor had already started rumors to some of our models on myspace, we had myspace in those days, saying that we were exploiting the model financially and sexually. And little did she know she was writing this to internet profiles of the models that the agency set up on behalf of the models. So you could see that if we actually had something for people to jump at us with we would have got it.
We had to be as clear cut and honest and as formal as we could be with our models. Not many agencies on our level were working in a legitimate style, because the reality makes it almost impossible to afford if you are a new agency to operate by the standard regulations on an agency in UK. But we managed it then, and to date, we might not have as many jobs as some of the major but at least no one can define us in a negative manner.
Ladybrille.com: Interesting. What kind of clients have you been able to secure for your models?
Nana: The list goes on, but in terms of known brands, our girls have featured in Vogue, iD, adidas campaign, Vision express, L’Officiel, Mac, various fashion week designers, boutiques and magazines.
Ladybrille.com: What is the biggest project you have had so far?
Nana: Well I judge the the size of the project by the size of the pay. You can have a designers with all the funky names but half the time their pay is tight. Our biggest project was a campaign for UBS Bank and we got paid a few £10,000s for one model. That was quite nice. (Smiles)
Ladybrille.com: What next for you and your model agency?
Nana: 2011, we are actually working on the agency and another major international project outside of fashion so there will not be much progress. But by the end of 2012, you can expect to see us become, if not the best, one of the best agencies in UK. If we did what we have done in 4 years whilst we were clueless of the industry it would be nothing to conquer it. All it takes is quick thinking and implemented action.
Ladybrille.com: Share 5 tips for our existing fashion models on how to manage their careers.
Nana: 1) Everyday is a casting. If singers could not walk around town for a second without their voice being projected out their body then they would need to ensure at all times their vocals were on point because every time they step out their house the guy in a super market could be a marketing exec for a major record label. The lady opposite them on the bus could be a show organiser looking for great performers and so on. When you are a model, that’s what happens when people see you. The guy you thought was checking you out might be a designer just looking for that face and your hairdo and cracking skin put him off. You just always have to be at your best.
2) Personality is everything. You will be surprised how many models that are sometimes worst looking that you book more jobs than you, because they crack a good joke and can have good conversations with people in the industry. Even the make up artist who did your make up at a bad shoot where you were moody could tomorrow be shooting with a director who was looking for the next face for a campaign and she did not recommend you because you had a frown and an irritating aura.
3) Understand management. A lot of model go out there thinking 5 guys approached me, and I am getting jobs therefore I do not need my management or I am better off without them. The compliments and progress goes to their heads and then they begin acting funny to their agents. What models need to do is think progressive, they need to say to themselves, if this is what I can do by myself then let me couple that with what the agency can do for me. Because sometimes as you are the pretty one out and about in public most times you will get approached, but you can always rely on your agency to double check the contracts, the safety and legitimacy of the clients. You would be surprised how many girls out there are signing release forms on test shoots giving the photographers full access to sell the images whilst they receive not even one penny. Models need to understand the importance of agents and agencies goes beyond just getting jobs.
4) No one can make you any more successful than you chose to be. If you are determined you will go far, big or small agency, if you are not determined you will not go far. You might see 100’s of girl on the majors but most them are actually sitting idle or even less productive than girls on smaller agencies. Your determination to get things right will drive clients to call you back, agents to push you, other models to recommend you and so forth.
5) Take advantage of every opportunity. Modelling will only last until the next model is on your agency. Everytime you miss out on a job because you cant be bothered are ten more chances you missed out on from clients who might have booked you from seeing the results of that job or people who could have met you on the job.
Ladybrille.com: Very solid tips. Share 5 tips for models who want to enter the business?
Nana: 1) Make sure you even want to be a model. Get to know the industry you are getting into. Models are paid to be glamorous this does not mean they are glamorous or living a glamorous life. In fact it is actually the opposite for more than 90% of many models out there. And make sure you know which end of the industry fits you best. Don’t try to be a fashion models if you do not fit a lot of requirements in the fashion industry. Always look for the alternative aspects of modelling that fit you best.
2) Don’t take modelling serious until you see signs that it takes you serious. It’s easy to quit school and your job and live in and area you know nothing about for modelling, but its very difficult to wake up to a reality that says you are not a model when you have given everything up for it.
3) Look around in the industry and look for models that reflect you best. Just because you have a same look as a model does not mean you are in her line of success, maybe the size of your nose or your forehead could make you totally different from here even if you have the same complexion and height. Although when you do see the model that reflects you it cane then make it easier for you to set you direction in the industry.
4) Do not become a model because you want to feel beauty and boost yourself esteem or because associates close to you say you are beautiful. 99% of your experience in the modelling world would be full of rejection and nos. This can be more damaging to your confidence as oppose to helping it. You need to have tough skin and pride in your own esteem and beauty before entering.
5) Modelling is not glamorous. When you see models at parties being models there are only two types of models there. The models that wish to show off and hang out being silly, and then there are the models that are working, these are the models that have actually been paid to be in the club/party to make it look good and/or the models that are aware there are fashion contacts and have actually come to work and meet important people. Don’t confuse the two even though they might all look like they were there just to party.
For more information about Confidence Models, visit confidencemodels.com.
-Photo description: Tyson Beckford, Perry (Male Winner), Billy (Female Winner), Nana Tamakloe
First published June 2011