With a resume that includes work as a model, scout, agency owner, fashion writer and stylist all over the world, Erin is a working mom in one of the largest Mormon communities in the country, Salt Lake City, Utah. Erin took time out from her busy schedule to talk to me and Emily Sandberg about what she looks for when scouting new talent and why bangs do not the girl make.
Scouting new models is crucial to the modeling industry. It keeps the talent pool full of fresh faces. Where do you go to discover new faces?
A good model scout never stops looking. I always have my eyes peeled for fresh faces because you never know where or when you’ll discover someone. I randomly scout for girls, but I also like to go to events or places where I know girls who might fit into the model mold might be. Discovering someone can happen anywhere from a high school track meet to a basketball game to a volleyball game because girls who participate in these sports tend to be taller than others. Dances, concerts and even malls are also places I like to look and one of my new favorite places to scout is on Facebook; you can tell a lot from a photo.
Do you target certain regions or ethnicities as trends change?
Once in a while I like to scout in smaller towns because I know they are untouched by other scouts or local agencies. I don’t target specific ethnicities unless agencies tell me they are looking for a specific look. Once, I was in contact with a top agency in New York City and they said they wanted me to find Native American girls. After that, I found myself scouting pow wows and Native American gatherings.
What age do you think is appropriate for a model to start work in a larger market such as New York or Paris and why?
Every girl matures differently. Some girls I scouted at the age of 18 were more immature than some of the 14-year-olds. I know New York City and Paris are very demanding markets to work in. If a girl is ready and mature enough to start modeling at 16 I see no problem with sending her to work, as long as it doesn’t interfere with school.
Beyond the beauty of the modeling industry, how do you prepare the girls you work with to handle the business of modeling?
I teach them how to walk like a model and how to move in front of the camera so they can start learning what will make them successful. So many girls think they can model and the second they step in front of the camera, they freeze. I also try to help them understand the importance of etiquette and interviewing skills because, after all, castings are the same as interviews and no one wants to hire someone who doesn’t represent their company well.
What character traits do you look for when scouting a girl?
I think it’s important for girls to have their own voice and to be able to communicate without the aid of their parents. I also look for a great smile and a friendly nature. A model can’t go to New York City, London, Paris or Milan on looks only. It’s crucial to find girls who have a tough skin to handle rejection and, most importantly, I look for girls with good business sense because they are, in essence, their own business owners.
After a girl is placed with an agency, are you still able to have any say or control on the development of her career?
I certainly hope so. I establish a relationship with them from the beginning that is built on trust and I feel that I’m always a part of their development. The more we meet, the more opportunity I have to help develop their skills, even if it’s only to update digitals photos. Trudi Tapscott manages the girls and is primarily responsible for developing them and making the most important decisions for their careers; there isn’t anyone better.
Is it possible for a 22-year-old model to begin her career in the fashion industry today, or is that considered too old to start her career?
Twenty-two is not too old at all. In fact, it could work to her advantage if she has kept herself looking good and her measurements are right. Her maturity level could be a huge advantage for her. There seems to be a need in the industry for more mature models. Overall older models handle the business better than a 16-year-old and usually understand the importance of perseverance. Many young models leave the industry because they don’t see the bigger picture.
Most models look quite plain or even odd looking without makeup, hair and the other accoutrements. Have you always had a keen eye for photogenic faces or did it develop with experience and time?
When I was about eight or nine I remember looking at VOGUE magazine with my mom and her best friend Nancy. They said something to me that I’ll never forget. “Erin, do you notice how none of the models have big bangs?” They said that because they wanted me to know that just because everyone else had big bangs, which was a huge trend in the 80’s, didn’t mean it was beautiful. From then on I saw beauty differently. I developed the ability to see beyond the obvious and see the potential in the less obvious.
When did you become aware of model scouting and how did you end up becoming involved in the process?
I don’t remember a specific time when I became aware of model scouting. I spent over 15 years in many aspects of the industry: buying, showroom sales, styling, modeling and model management. That gave me a unique understanding of the fashion and modeling industry. This combination of experience, I believe, developed my ability to scout. I fell into scouting because I have little kids and it is the most flexible way for me to stay involved in the industry and still be a mom.
Trudi Tapscott is one of the greatest model scouts in the industry. How has working with her changed your perspective?
When I opened Echo Models in 2008 I struck up a relationship with Trudi Tapscott when she was at DNA. I felt so lucky to know her and have a great scouting partnership with one of my favorite agencies of all time. Trudi instantly became a mentor to me as I was managing models and I relied on her expertise when things got tough. As I scouted and managed more girls, it became increasingly difficult trying to be mom, scout and model manager. Freshly Scouted and Trudi Tapscott Model Management was born and I started working directly with Trudi. I have 100 percent confidence that she has no interest other than the models best interest. It’s such a rare quality to find. She’s changed my perspective immensely and my knowledge of the modeling industry has forever been changed.
Follow her at @ErinScouted
Learn more at Freshly Scouted