Finding the right model coach and attending the right workshops hosted by qualified models and other industry professionals can literally make or break your career. If you’re brand new to the industry, they can help you start off on the right foot by making sure you’re prepared for the rollercoaster ride that is the fashion industry, and give you the tools you need to be successful and professional.
If you have an unqualified coach or attend a workshop hosted by models or others who haven’t had many first-hand experiences in the modeling industry, you’re spending money on advice that may not be accurate or based off of actual knowledge. You could be delaying your success and make navigating your career much more difficult than it needs to be.
So, what makes a qualified model coach? The exact same traits that give any other type of coach their merit- actual working experience in the industry to base their teachings off of.
Many professions require intense study to secure certification before being allowed to practice in their field of work. Personal coaches and mentors (especially in the fashion world) are in a different realm because it’s not as regulated of an industry, so it’s up to YOU to verify a coach’s credentials before investing your money in them. You wouldn’t hire a batting coach that’s only played backyard slow-pitch with their friends, so choosing a modeling coach should be no different. Many people can put together great looking websites and have flawless social media pages, but you really need to dig further than Instagram to make sure who you are giving your hard-earned money to is qualified and capable of helping you improve your career.
Below are a few important qualifications your model coach should have before you invest your time and money into their teachings:
Agency Representation: A qualified model coach is one that is currently or has been agency represented by a legitimate modeling agency (or multiple agencies) for many years. To some, this qualification may not seem very important if the model coach has worked as a successful freelance model their whole career. While that may be true for some posing and even a little runway coaching, they won’t be able to give you proper advice when it comes to handling modeling agencies and developing agency and client etiquette. If a model wants to be successful in large fashion markets, they will need a modeling agency, there’s just no way around it. Navigating the agency game can be tricky, and you need a coach with experience in that area to give you proper advice.
If a model coach is claiming they’re agency represented, do some research on the agency they are signed to. Is it a legitimate and successful agency, or is it one that no one has ever heard of and doesn’t have a good client base in the market it’s located in? Have they only been signed to one agency, or have they had experience with multiple agencies in local and non-local markets? Knowing these things about your coach is important, because the advice the model coach gives you may not be beneficial to your career if they have only been signed to one obscure agency.
Range: You want a model coach who has experience working with a wide variety of clients, photographers, stylists, and designers. It’s a bonus if they also have experience with working with clients in other cities/markets. If your model coach has only worked with a few local industry individuals, they won’t be able to help you work through the many different situations you are certain to run into when you work with a wide variety of industry professionals both locally and non-locally. Some photographers, clients, designers and stylists are a breeze to work with while others can be very difficult and intimidating, so learning how to handle such vastly different types of situations is important.
You also want a model coach who has experience in both commercial & editorial modeling. Editorial and commercial styles are completely different for both print and runway, so you will need a model coach who is fluent in both to be able to give you appropriate coaching.
Years Under Their Belt: Your modeling coach should not be a model that just started in the industry a couple of months or even a couple of years ago. That early in a modeling career, you’re really just starting to get your feet wet and are still learning the real ins and outs of the industry yourself, so a brand-new model is not quite suited for coaching other new models. You want a modeling coach who has been successfully working in the industry for many years and who has a lot of good and bad experiences to draw from when coaching you. A model coach who has worked with a wide variety of clients and agencies will have a wealth of knowledge to share. A coach who is also a new model in the industry just simply doesn’t have enough first-hand experience to be able to fully advise you.
Paid Bookings: It is important to know what clients and experiences your modeling coach has had throughout their career. Have they been working with big clients and doing paid campaigns and runway shows, or have they only been working locally doing small jobs and a lot of free trade work? It is important to know this and to verify this because you want a model coach who has done both. A qualified model coach will have experience doing local trade work and large campaign jobs for big paying clients. You want them to have experience in both of these realms so they can draw on that and coach you on what to expect and how to handle things when you experience it yourself in your career. When you start out you may do a lot of trade work, but there will be a time where you need to phase out of that. Having a coach who has already gone through that experience will help you navigate that transition while still keeping great working relationships with the clients you used to do free work for.
While it’s so easy in the days of social media for a model coach and the workshops they host to appear legitimate, make sure you fully do your research before investing your time and money into their services. If you see a modeling workshop or camp you’d like to attend, look at who the instructors are and do your homework on them. Find out how long they’ve been in business, what they teach, and what makes them qualified to get paid to teach on those topics (i.e.: all the above points). Also don’t be afraid to ask questions! If there’s any doubt, ask to see their resume. A legitimate coach will be open and honest about every aspect of their career and won’t hesitate to give you testimonials from other students and/or industry professionals they’ve worked with (agents, clients, photographers, other models, etc.).
Make sure to advocate for yourself. Not all qualified model coaches are created equal. Maybe you’ve had a few sessions with one coach or attended a few workshops hosted by them and you’re still not feeling confident in what you’re doing. Then it may be time to reevaluate and go see a different coach. You want to make sure the coach you choose is someone you vibe with and feel comfortable going to for advice.
Also be realistic with what you’re trying to achieve. The modeling industry is a hard egg to crack. It’s not for everyone- AND THAT’S OK! If you’re doing all the work and just aren’t having any success, it’s ok to step back and acknowledge that maybe modeling just isn’t your thing. Take the drive and time you were putting into modeling and shift into something else that you’re passionate about!