Photo: Koray Birand
Stockholm native, Susanna ‘Mini’ Anden began her career at the tender age of ten before signing to Elite Model Management when she was 15. She has been on the cover of Vogue, Elle and Cosmopolitan in addition to campaigns for Gucci, DKNY, Calvin Klein and Louis Vuitton. Mini met her now husband on the set of a DKNY shoot and resides in Los Angeles with her family. Still very much in demand, Mini spends her time between her home in LA and New York. Mini reflects on her career as Emily Sandberg and I caught up with her.
Can you pinpoint a time in your career that changed everything for you?
My career really took off in 1998 when I moved from Paris to New York. I had already worked with some great photographers like Peter Lindbergh and Mikael Jansson but the campaigns and money jobs started rolling in after I arrived in New York.
You met your husband on set while shooting DKNY. How did you make the relationship work with such erratic schedules?
Oh, the fun we had on that shoot! It’s true that’s when Taber and I became a couple, but we actually met a few years prior to that on a shoot in Sweden for Arena Hommes Plus with Mikael Jansson. We were both dating other people at the time but definitely noticed each other.
About a year and a half later we met again, this time in New York for an Italian Vogue shoot with Peter Lindbergh. We were attached the whole shoot and Taber gave me his number. He went home at the end of the shoot telling his roommates if this girl calls, I’m done. I did call but whoever answered the phone never gave Taber the message. When we met again two weeks later at the DKNY shoot I saw him and asked how he was. He said he could be better and I asked him why. He said it was because I never called. That’s that the beginning of our love story.
How did we made it work with our schedules? Well, we made it a rule never to go longer than two weeks apart. When we were both traveling a lot we made sure we connected around the world. Relationships will always hit rough patches but I truly believe we belong together so we’ve just made it work. Meeting at such an early age sort of meant that we grew up together and luckily we never grew apart.
Your family splits their time between LA and NYC. How do you manage to maintain balance now that you’re modeling again?
We have lived in LA for over 10 years. It means a lot more traveling on my part which sucks because I don’t like flying but it’s worth it because of the quality of life we have. When I started modeling again, after becoming a mom, we’ve traveled together as a family. Taber can take his work on the road so I have been really lucky. Until I’ve finished nursing Felix I want him with me. It will definitely be a challenge when I have to start traveling by myself again. Leaving my boys will be hard but that’s the gig. It’s not fair on a toddler to drag him across the world for a few days at the time.
How has your modeling career evolved over the years?
I feel my career evolved in the way that I am now more settled. I have my steady clients and don’t up and leave every other day. Things are definitely more planned. In the beginning of my career it was full-force all the time with 12 seasons of shows and traveling non-stop. All that work paid off and I now have my steady well-paying clients.
What kind of career guidance did you receive at the beginning?
I have been lucky in my career to always have great agents around me that I trusted with whatever they would throw my way. I always felt cared for and protected.
What advice would you give to younger self?
Buy an apartment in New York! I can’t believe all the years I wasted on paying rent.
Who were the most influential people in your early career and why?
My amazing agents Jan Stewart and Susanna Rönn and photographers Peter Lindbergh and Mikael Jansson. The editorials that I did with them really paved the way for me.
Did you ever notice a inversely proportional relationship between your success and weight?
When it comes to the weight issue I feel I never really suffered too much pressure. I’m naturally thin and athletic. Taking care of your body and fitting into samples sizes just comes with the job. But yes, I do think most models, including myself, have a bit of a warped body image.
Follow her at @TheMiniAnden