INTERVIEW: Emily of The Model Basics

Models have an enormous amount of free time, due to usually finding out their next day’s schedule at 6pm each evening. This can lead to a very anxious life, especially when that email doesn’t come and the next day stretches ahead in front of you, 24 hours to worry about why you don’t have anything to do.

However if managed correctly, this free time can be one of the best things about modelling. If you spend your time thinking and enjoying yourself as opposed to worrying and assuming the worst - you can pursue other interests, gain experience in other industries and even build your own business, as Emily Hancock did.

The Model Basics was born out of Emily looking to create a business on the side of modelling, so she firstly considered the main issues that affected her as a model on a day to day basis. One of these issues was the difficulty of trying to find suitable seamless / skin coloured underwear that all models need to wear daily for work. Dreams of models flaunting around in Victoria’s Secret couldn’t be further than the reality - every model will have a drawer filled with beige, discolouring, usually down right ugly thongs and bras. These are necessary for every model on a job, to ensure that their underwear doesn’t show through a range of different outfits they may have to wear, and usually spills out onto casting days too due to the amount you have to try on clothes for clients!

The next step was circulating a global survey to confirm that the lack of nice nude underwear is a universal issue faced by models and fashion professionals on a daily basis, which it definitely was! Coming from New Zealand and having modelled in Kuala Lumpur, Paris, Milan and Sydney before settling in London, Emily understood the need to create a one-stop shop for fashion professionals, initially setting up online.

Emily explains how setting up her own business was a challenging but fun process, starting with using her industry connections to create patterns with an accomplished lingerie designer in West London before finding a manufacturer online, taking months of trial and error before settling on her designs. As models work with top industry professionals on a regular basis, Emily shows how models can use their knowledge of the fashion industry and network to build their own personal businesses, using modelling as part of a larger plan.

‘Perseverance is key - I chipped away at the business on weeknights, weekends and any free days I had whilst still modelling full time’, she advises to models wanting to set up their own businesses. Entrepreneurs often work much harder than those in traditional ‘9-5’ jobs because their passion drives them to put all of their free time into it! Many also suffer from the fear of failure (or ‘imposter syndrome’), which simply has to be let go of in order to succeed - Emily had to build up her confidence as a business owner and acknowledge that ‘you can’t begin to succeed without giving something a go!’ Reading around your subject also helps - Emily recommends ‘The Lean StartUp’ by Eric Ries to understand the business side of things.

Setting up any business is a huge challenge, but what many models fail to realise is that they are effectively already running themselves as businesses, being self-employed! They are already half-way there, the next step is understanding themselves and their own passions to understand what to do with all of this knowledge and experience.

Emily started modelling at the age of 15, having been scouted in Auckland, New Zealand. Having experienced everything from sharing a model apartment with 11 other models and navigating a completely foreign country alone at the age of 18, to walking for Gucci & Louis Vuitton and jumping off motel balcony’s for campaign shots, she was able to pour her rich and varied experiences into her business, understanding her customers as a model herself! She counts having an excellent mother agent, Michael Hooker for her continued success as a model and fun career - Michael acts as a business coach in addition to a model agent, supporting Emily to build a strong overall brand.

Having a mother agent who respects and supports you is critical to being a happy, successful model. Emily recommends using our agency guide to check that the agencies you are meeting with are legitimate, and viewing your career as a model as a business, not a lifestyle. By taking care of yourself and building a thick skin, understanding that things are not to be taken personally, you can brush off the rejection and focus your time and energy into a long-term business plan.

The success of The Model Basics is proof of this - having just completed her first year of sales, products are now being sold by stores and the business continues to grow and develop alongside Emily’s career as a model. She fits in castings and jobs around working from the beautiful roof garden of the Curtain hotel, enjoying being her own boss and in control of her own life.

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The Model Basics serves as an empowering reminder that models can follow their passions into other businesses and still support each other - for the first campaign, the entire team were all ex and current models, whose collective creativity and inner knowledge of modelling made for incredible results.

Find The Model Basics here.

Emily Hancock, of Leni’s Models London & Finda Model, mother agent Michael Hooker based in NYC. Interviewed by Leanne Maskell.