Kelly Streit is founder, president and CEO of Mode Models International.
Tell me about the history of Mode Models and why you founded it?
Streit: I have always loved fashion; even in high school. I would scour the magazines and had a huge wall of tearsheets in my room of images that I loved and that inspired me. Then I started photographing my friends and eventually I began looking for people who I thought had ‘the look’ for modelling.
Turns out that was something I had a knack for. I showed some of my photos to another Canadian modelling agent, Giovanni Bernardi, and he thought I had an eye for finding models.
In 1987, I opened Mode Models in Red Deer and we operated there for several years before moving to Calgary. We also have an office in Edmonton and we love being able to service both of Alberta’s major cities. In our international division, we send models to reputable agencies in cities such as New York, Paris, London and Tokyo.
Do potential models come straight to you or does your agency go out and recruit prospects?
Streit: Both. We have a lot of people who come to us looking to model and we’re always scouting for new faces. It’s something I do without even trying. If I see a face that I know can be a model, I’ll always approach them and give them my card. Whether or not they come in is up to them.
What are you looking for in a model? What are the key qualities they should possess to be successful?
Streit: It’s hard to define exactly what I’m looking for. Some things are obvious, like height, and if a person can fit in the designer’s sample sizes that are an industry standard. But the ‘look’ is more subjective. You need to keep on top of what’s happening in the industry to know what the magazines, clients and designers are looking for.
But it’s not just about the look. A successful model needs self confidence, intelligence and a passion for what they’re doing. A model meets hundreds of people a year and they need to be able to show their personality and convince the client that they’re right for the job.
A misconception about models is that the job is really easy and all they have to do is stand there and be photographed, but that’s not the case at all. If a model wants to make it in the industry, they need to able to connect with people and have something special about themselves that will make people want to book them.
You have an event coming up March 16 at Chinook Centre. Tell me about it.
Streit: We have top modelling agencies coming for a huge model search and it’s completely free. Anyone who thinks they have what it takes can come meet me and the top modelling agencies in the world. It’s a huge opportunity. We have top international agents with offices in New York, Paris, Milan, Los Angeles, Toronto, Chicago, Atlanta and Miami.
It’s from noon to 2 p.m. at the Hudson’s Bay, main floor by cosmetics.
How are the models coming out of Alberta different than elsewhere?
Streit: I think that the models from Alberta are often very grounded individuals and understand what kind of an opportunity they have before them.
Obviously, I can’t speak for everyone but the models from our agency, at least, have gotten a reputation for professionalism and realness.
We try to thoroughly prepare our models before sending them out to one of the international markets we work with and I think it shows.
Our models also know that they are representing Mode and they have a certain standard to uphold. I’m really proud of our models and the people they are.
Mario Toneguzzi is a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary. He writes for Calgary’s Business.