Supporting The Brand

Sunday, October 14, 2018

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Don't get Deiwght Peters started; he'll never stop. Gushing about his models, that is. What SO wanted was that and more. He was game...


“The Saint machinery is constantly on the grind since there are both male and female models managed by me internationally,” shares Peters, when asked if he ever presses pause. “There are,” he continues, “over 20 international Saint models needing attention. And there are many competing issues at any given time. New faces have to be developed and get an understanding of how things work. The more established models have a different set of priorities per season. Strategies have to be designed (in conjunction with the partner agencies in the respective markets) as per model. Sometimes, clients that are not runway clients may want to book a model during the show season — these opportunities have to be weighed. Travel itineraries have to be confirmed. I think I can qualify as a travel agent now.” It's no idle boast!

Annually, there are about eight show cycles in the main markets. Men's Fashion Week, Couture and Ready to Wear. He continues, “Making model submissions, speaking to casting directors, model agencies, making visa and travel plans for models is a super-hectic (but very exciting) process. I am excited every single show season. There is really no press pause. And with that comes the challenge of models not having correct (or any) birth certificates or passports.”


On getting those heels on the runway... I get a high when I know there is a great new face I am about to break for a major brand. I love working with the best casting directors. I push really hard but the casting directors are pretty clear what direction a look is going in for a particular season (specific to their clients). It's for me to position the right model for the right client. It has been a real privilege to work with the brilliant teams across all the major markets. The fact that the competition is tough makes it more a priority to make the scouting and selection process for new faces at Saint more austere. Very important is an understanding of the brand aesthetic and DNA which helps to guide the model positioning. It's always a blessing to get that world exclusive — especially for a new face.


Charting a course in Africa, the French Caribbean and Trinidad & Tobago

Our slogan — changing lives, expanding horizons — is at the core of our DNA. The global recognition and accolades we have achieved, particularly as lead managers of black models, have gained us much interest from power players in many markets.

Our foray into the French Caribbean was facilitated through our 18-year relationship with the Touch of France initiative and the Fashion Face of the Caribbean model content. I have done events in Guadeloupe and French Guiana. With the success of our beautiful Aurelie Giraud from Martinique and Brigitte Golabkan, the interest from these markets has been ignited.

With column inches in The New York Times, Forbes Magazine (highlighting Saint as the world's biggest exporter of black models), Italian Vogue, France's Le Monde, American Vogue and other publications, Saint is poised for great things on continental Africa.

We just signed a beautiful Nigerian model Tomiwa from Lagos and she is already placed in Paris and Milan. She will be introduced to the world in 2019. I am about to sign two male models from Nigeria and one from Portugal.

Plans are far advanced for special projects in several African territories including Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, and more. This will certainly be a game-changer with a heart.

I love the energy of Trinidad and I had represented a beautiful Trini model Crystal Cunningham, many years ago. I have already signed about six amazing talents and 2019 will be bright for them. They are all now undergoing development.

The model applied in these markets will be designed and executed as per culture and regional idiosyncratic difference. This will be guided by our advisory boards in the respective territories.


What's next for Tami Williams?

She has just shot another campaign in Paris (hence, her missing most of New York Fashion Week in September). Plus, she has switched New York agencies and now joins supermodels such as Kendall Jenner over at The Society. I will only say Hollywood plans are afoot!


And Barbra Grant?

Barbra still has so much more ahead of her. She will have a long career. Her start with that Alexander McQueen debut is as good a start as one can get. Working in tandem with her affiliate agencies across the world, we are strategically building her image with a select list of clients that will ensure her image prestige remains high and exclusive. She has grown tremendously since her Balenciaga international advertising campaign. We are also expanding her client base in more European territories.


What is the realistic runway turn of each model and what is their Option B?

The term realistic is misplaced. A model's mind is not controlled like a robot by an agent. A good model can have a career spanning more than a decade. There are more than 20 models I can easily name who have had exceptional careers lasting over two decades: Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Heidi Klum, Adriana Lima, Iman, Kate Moss, Alek Wek, Liya Kibede, Stella Tennant, Alessandra Ambrosia, Giselle Bundchen, and many others. A model's career does not exist in a vacuum. The model's path to career longevity will depend on many factors — the relationships the model established with agents, clients such as designers, photographers, magazine editors, stylists, casting directors, show producers, and much more. Nowadays, the model's image on social media also impacts on their global profile and influences client interest. The model must have his/her own ambitions and professional desires. They must want success and learn how to remain relevant and successful. Some models (surprisingly) don't like to travel. A model must have enthusiasm and be excited for the opportunity. I am looking for a new cadre of models who want it all — supermodel careers, Hollywood careers, and more. Saint can and has helped to make many dreams become reality. But every model is different; dreams, life aspirations, are different. The first frank discussion I could start for many Saint models is what would happen if it weren't for Saint and the model opportunity? I have seen many Jamaican models get the opportunities of a lifetime and through boyfriends, disrespectful and unprofessional behaviours (despite guidance and intervention), get out of shape, simply destroy what could have been brilliant careers. This ignorant notion that a model career doesn't last after four seasons is a clear misunderstanding of how the industry works. A model's plan B depends on their life passions eg a plan B may be improving culinary skills and opening a restaurant if there is a passion in food. There is a model like Korey Rowe, who has become a certified personal fitness trainer in New York catering to professionals. If a model is lazy and really loves to have fun and the modelling career fails, then plan B is whatever they were doing before modelling.


The conversation has come up and continues to surface, notably, just how much money do our models make and why are they still walking instead of driving? Lots of whys. Indeed, eyebrows were raised recently when it was revealed just how much one model had actually earned.

I think only a small mind believes because a model isn't driving they are poor or it somehow reflects on how well they are doing. I always tell my models, education and a home are priority, early investment on the career trajectory. I have seen models being influenced to buy cars (which depreciate in value as they leave the parking lot) and in short order the car is in an accident and written off. There are a few Saint models who are now millionaires and looking to invest in real estate over the next year.

Tami Williams is the most in-demand model in the English-speaking Caribbean, bar none. Models in her range can command day rates upwards of US$15,000 per day (depending on the client and the job). Check the major shows around the world, check the lead magazine editorials and speak to any lead stylist, casting director, show producer, designer, photographer, and they will tell you, Tami Williams is the Jamaican global face of the moment. After all, walking 18 times for Chanel (and the most prolific runway résumé of any Jamaican model in history), appearing twice on the cover of French Elle, multiple times in American Vogue editorials, and fronting campaigns for Gucci, Calvin Klein Collections, Dolce & Gabbana and Balmain, put her in a class by herself. This is why Tami is the only Jamaican model on Top 50 models of the world. Tami's day rate is the highest. Tami's profile is reserved for the most premium of international fashion clients. Her global campaign for Chanel make-up is one of her dreams come true. Now the road is paved for the ultimate dream contract, which is in the works.

Tami is now eyeing real estate investment to start her portfolio. She has secured a realtor and will be seeking to conclude purchase(s) by the end of 2018. She is exemplary when it comes to taking guidance and learning the art of becoming and remaining a star.

Of note is that the gross income accrues to the model — NOT THE AGENCY. So if a model books a job for US$100,000, the agency cannot use that figure as income to the agency when they earn only a percentage of the model's income. That would be misleading.


How do you manage the finances and are your models encouraged to save for a rainy day?

I think most people are misinformed or are just plain ignorant as to the role and relationship between model and agent. No model agent I know manages a model's finances. Not only is it a conflict of interest but such an arrangement ought not to be a part of any contract. The agent develops and manages career, which includes the tasks of engaging clients and securing jobs on the model's behalf. If the model is Jamaican-based or if Saint directly books the job (as it has for many high-profile international jobs) when those fees are paid by clients, the model is paid (less any fees, expenses, debts, etc). Now, based on my banking experience, I have recommended that models open bank accounts, and the type of accounts to maximise their returns. In fact, most models opened their first bank account when they start modelling with Saint. Tami is gearing up to start her real estate investment soon based on my guidance. She has engaged a realtor to start searching for desirable properties. She just turned 20 and has already earned a fortune and will be investing smartly. I will (and have) recommend savings ideas, but they are not obligated to take any such guidance. Let's be clear, as I have seen many times before, the model may prefer to listen to boyfriend/girlfriend, mom or dad or some relative. I have seen models smartly use their income to complete their educational studies. I have also seen models make stupid decisions despite the advice they get. It must be the model (like entertainers, athletes, etc) who appoints accountants, etc to manage their finances if they so desire later in their careers. Sometimes, a model's immediate family's priorities trump all other considerations.

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