Beyond the low pay — the average annual wage for a runway model is $26,600 per year, — the modeling industry is littered with stories of abuse and degradation. Starvation, child labor, sexual abuse, racism and grueling hours for almost no pay (read more online or download as pdf).
Working conditions no one should experience are too often the hallmarks of a runway model’s career. 20% of the models were actually in debt. 30% of models reported inappropriate touching on the job, with 28% reporting being pressured to have sex with someone at work. In two-thirds of the cases, those models who opted to inform their agencies about work-based sexual harassment were met with agencies who didn’t see the problem.
47% of models appearing on catwalks at one of the four major fashion weeks around the world appeared only once. Only a few of them can become famous, well-paid and successful. And for them, the main question will be: “what I will do after modeling career?”
Last generation of supermodels trying to leverage their brand-names in tech-industry: Natalia Vodianova launched Elbi (e-wallet for charity), Jessica Alba preparing her Honest Company for IPO, Jessica Hart promoting her LUMA Cosmetics, Lily Cole set up Impossible (a social network for sharing economy), Karlie Kloss launched her coding school for girls “Kode with Klossy”. And the new generation of supermodels like Cara Delevigne, Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid is coming up in popularity from Instagram and YouTube.
Natalia Vodianova, Elbi
In September 2015 a Russian supermodel teamed up with a former Google employee to develop a philanthropy app that’s been backed by a UK government minister and the co-founder of social networking site Bebo. Natalia Vodianova has caught the eye of internet safety and security minister Joanna Shields and Bebo co-founder Michael Birch because of her mobile app that aims to make it easier and more fun for people to engage with charities.
The Elbi app allows people to donate £1 with a “Love Button,” create content, send messages, and vote. The app was launched at Clinton Global Initiative (NYC, September 2015) and Web Summit conference (Dublin, November 2015).
Vodianova said: “Elbi is a platform that brings the power of social and digital worlds to charities and connects them with people around the world. With Elbi you can do small actions that make a big difference. That is what Elbi stands for — little steps that can make a big difference.”
Jessica Hart, LUMA Cosmetics
Model and founder of the beauty line Luma Cosmetics. Already 30. Raised in Melbourne, Australia. She has been living in Manhattan for 11 years. In March 2016 she became a member of the Forbes’ “30 under 30” list of 30 success stories under age 30 in the category of art and style span fashion, fine art, cuisine and more.
Three years in the making, LUMA launched in 2014 and sells in stores only in Australia with plans to expand distribution to this year, starting with Asia or possibly the U.S. “In modeling, you don’t have much control over your career,” she says.
“You don’t know what’s next and when it’s going to end. I have learned so much in the industry, and eventually, I wanted to have something which comes from me and which I creatively control.”
Lily Cole, Impossible
At the tender age of 28, Lily Cole seems to have had careers enough to span several lifetimes. Discovered at the age of 14 by a photographer, she was quickly signed to the prestigious Storm modeling agency, which has the likes of Kate Moss on its books. Lily caught the zeitgeist, bagging the front cover of Vogue by the age of 16 and in 2004 was named Model of the Year at the British Fashion Awards.
After deferring twice, Lily went to Cambridge University to study History of Art, graduating with a double first in 2011. Lily has retired from modeling and in 2013 she set up Impossible, ‘a social network sharing economy‘ that allows people to swap requests for assistance with users who have the relevant skills. “The project has been funded through a mix of my money, government grants, Nesta [Innovation] and support from companies and individuals. A few people who were helping me flagged the innovation fund, which is similar to what we are trying to do with Impossible.”
“We set up a project last year for products made in a socially responsible way [on top of the sharing economy site].” “There are things I care about, and I think if I had not done anything in the media I would still be trying to do what I’m doing. Because I have a profile in the media, it is one of the ways I can try to have an impact, but most of the time I do it through my business.”
Gwyneth Paltrow, Goop
She’s an actress & model, investor & author, startup founder & creative director, and “a big believer in the ampersand.” If you know Gwyneth Paltrow only as an actress, you might be surprised to see how many places she’s been hitting her marks. The Oscar winner has appeared in nearly 50 films and TV shows and launched or own more than ten different businesses.
Paltrow, who slowed down her acting career to spend time with her children and took a break from acting in 2015 to focus on Goop, says her career path has been inspired, in part, by her mother, the actress Blythe Danner. Paltrow considers Goop “really my principle business,” though she realizes that varying amounts of time she spends on her other entrepreneurial projects can sometimes add up.
“We’re living in such an exciting time where women feel that they have the capability and the permission to expand and to go into different areas,” Paltrow said.
“It’s wonderful to see women feeling entrepreneurial and bullish about what they can bring to the market and to the culture.”
In October 2015 at the Fast Company Innovation Festival, Gwyneth Paltrow announced that she and her business partner Lisa Gersh are launching a new enterprise: a publishing imprint called Goop Press. It will complement Goop, her weekly lifestyle newsletter that offers readers advice, recipes, travel guides and the opportunity to purchase products that Paltrow and her team have curated.
Jessica Alba, Honest Company
Honest Co., an online shopping startup co-founded by model and actress Jessica Alba, is working with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley on an initial public offering. In August 2015 Honest Co. raised $100 million in a new round of funding, valuing it at about $1.7 billion. The funding boosts the e-commerce startup’s value by more than 50% since it last raised funds a year ago.
Ms. Alba co-founded the site in 2011 to sell nontoxic products such as diapers and toothpaste to consumers worried about the materials used in everyday household items. The Honest brand has become popular with parents who are willing to pay a premium to allay fears of exposing their infants to unnecessary chemicals.
Honest said earlier its sales grew to $170 million in 2014, up from $60 million in 2013. It sells more than 75% of its products through the Web. Most of Honest’s customers subscribe to a monthly service for delivering diapers and other products.
New stars from Instagram and YouTube: Karlie Kloss, Gigi Hadid, Kendall and Kylie Jenner
The new generation of supermodels is coming from Instagram and YouTube: Kendall Jenner, Cara Delevigne, and Gigi Hadid are currently valued between $125,000 and $300,000 for a single post across their social media. Karlie Kloss and Miranda Kerr can command between $25,000 to $50,000 for a single post on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Karlie Kloss has watched digital media change the fashion world over the course of her career. “I was modeling for a while before I ever had an Instagram account, a YouTube channel, a Twitter account, any way to express who I was—in high school I hardly even used my Facebook account,” Kloss says with a
“It’s been a really interesting shift . . . the new way that people get inspired by beauty trends gets inspired by fashion, new ways people shop. Over the past eight years that I’ve been in the industry, I’ve seen this shift firsthand. When I was first backstage at shows, nobody was backstage tweeting, Instagramming, YouTubing live from backstage. Now backstage you can live stream what’s happening, you can live stream the show, you can feel like you’re there.”
As the opportunities to share insider experiences with the world grew, so did Kloss’s interest in being more than a mannequin.
“It’s been interesting as a model to find my voice, and share my perspective and my point of view, as I had this extraordinary insight into the industry… It’s been fun to watch and be a part of this change, especially as fashion has adapted to it.”
As 2015’s reigning model MVPs, Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner have become an inescapable part of the fashion conversation. With their reality-television backgrounds and mammoth social media presence, they are the most visible representatives of the new generation of top models.
But are they supermodels? The word itself conjures images of George Michael videos and leggy beauties strutting the catwalk for Versace, but its definition is mostly abstract. It’s easy to recall the women who’ve earned the term over the years—particularly the ’90s glamazons who popularized its usage—but lately it feels as though the title has been handed out to nearly every person who’s ever walked a runway. A quick Google search showcases the way in which supermodel and model have become synonymous.
But what truly makes Kendall and Gigi supermodel material is the interest they generate off-duty. Bombshells next door, they are even better known for their selfie skills than for their work with the pros. Within the industry, the pair has garnered criticism and praise in equal measure.
In a fashion landscape that still struggles to acclimate itself to the Internet’s focus on clicks and likes, their brand of success is often derided as antithetical to that of the original supermodel lineup—would Naomi or Linda value user engagement stats as much as a Meisel-lensed editorial? Well, now maybe, but not then.
You can find more great examples of female entrepreneurs inside inspiring “Femtech and Fintech” report by Life.SREDA VC.Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in