At TCM Models and Talent in Seattle, Kristi Bleich develops models for a career in the fashion industry, giving guidance on clothing and grooming, mental and emotional attitude and professionalism
What do you do? I am a model booker for TCM Models and Talent [in Seattle]. I work with our New Faces division to develop models for a career in the fashion industry. This includes guidance on clothing and grooming, mental and emotional attitude and professionalism.
After models are more established, the TCM team works on booking them for various jobs — fashion shows and in print. I work on getting our models into local magazines (both in print and online) to get them “tear sheets.” These are like gold in a model’s portfolio; they prove that the model is on a professional level and speak to their capabilities.
How did you get started in that field? I studied Apparel, Merchandising and Textiles at Washington State University. I began working as a fashion stylist for shows and events in the Seattle area with TCM’s owner and director, Terri Morgan, as well as with Nordstrom. During that time, I developed relationships with this agency and the models. It was a natural progression from that point to begin working in the TCM office to develop and book models for jobs.
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What’s a typical day like? There is no typical day! The industry is very fast-paced, and there is always something new happening. Very few jobs are on a consistent schedule. It is typical for clients to get in touch with us about booking our models for jobs that are happening in a matter of moments … [or] for a job the following day.
Being a liaison between model and client is not always easy, as information is constantly changing. On top of that, a day could be atypical because the next big face could walk through the door during open call, and that makes me want to drop everything and figure out how to make their career take off!
What’s the best part of the job? The best part of the job is working with others. It might seem cliché, but to be able to communicate with agencies and clients all over the world is a privilege. It is an awesome feeling to be able to work with an agent in Paris who is excited about a model who we have developed from a gangly 5-foot-10-inch, 13-year-old girl into a beautiful 16-year-old walking the runway at Fashion Week. It really can feel like we are watching our own child grow up and blossom in front of our eyes!
What surprises people about your work? The fashion industry is not glamorous. It may seem like that to the outside person, but it is a lot of work! Most think it is all about parties and free swag, but to get to that point, we are working during all hours of the day, weekends included, to essentially babysit our clients and models.
Another thing that surprises people is that not everyone can model. The industry has established its specifications for a reason, and we as agents can’t change them — we can only find people who are born with the right genetics and have the personality for the job. Because that’s what modeling is — a job.
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