As a veteran of the modeling industry, Trudi Tapscott has parlayed her extraordinary experience into launching The Model Coaches, a scouting, development, coaching, and management company. Her innate ability for recognizing potential earned her a coveted position at American Vogue and she has shaped some of the most iconic careers in the modeling business. With The Model Coaches, Trudi provides a critical—but often overlooked—intermediary step where potential models are given access to established models, coached, mentored, and given the opportunity to grow and develop before being thrust onto a global stage.
Talk to us about the genesis of The Model Coaches.
The Model Coaches was an idea in the back my mind for years and progressed during my scouting years, when I observed a need for accurate information. My experience in the business includes scouting and managing models as the Booking Editor at Vogue, as well as being a Mother Agent. Using my experience to help a model on her journey is a passion. I love being a manager, coach, and mentor. The game changer for The Model Coaches was recruiting successful models as coaches, as their coaching is based on personal experience. It is a major part of our foundation. Models need support at all levels, but especially at the beginning of their career, and I knew my experience would be beneficial. Young women are at the forefront of media and branding in every business, which has an impact on models. We coach and mentor them into the business, helping them to build confidence and acquire digital skills.
What challenges did you face starting on this venture?
It was a new idea. The unknown opportunities required curiosity and a growth mindset in order to try new methods. My biggest challenge was reaching the right audience with the right message, which continues to evolve and requires our daily attention. No one really teaches you how to be a model. You learn on the job. Any professional model will tell you there are many things they wish they knew when they started. There are a lot things to learn and understand in this very unique business. You must stand out in order to improve your chances against the competition, and you must always know what to expect in order to be prepared. Modeling is not an easy job where you just stand around looking good. Modeling is more than just posting a selfie on Instagram. For years, our industry told models not to pay for any kind of model training or instruction. However, scouts need eyes everywhere, and so finding models on a local level is vital. In order to do that effectively, we sought local sources and supported modeling schools and conventions. Models pay to get access to agencies in order to learn and gain information. This process makes perfect sense and has been a traditional method of scouting for years, but this can lead to a model receiving conflicting information or being a victim of a scam. Knowledge, preparation, coaching, and confidence building from the right source can make the difference. Making the experience affordable and focusing on development that is age appropriate is my goal in everything we do. It is important to receive accurate information about changes and trends that have shifted every aspect of our business. For example, what do you do if you are under 18 and have heard you should start young but other sources say you are too young to begin modeling? How should Instagram be utilized to get attention from agencies? How much of a financial investment should I make in order to gain experience?
What can a model starting out expect when they join The Model Coaches?
To get started right away. Development is more than physical, and our guidance will give them confidence. We take out the guesswork so that they can learn quickly in a supportive environment. The results of coaching, both virtual and in person, have exceeded my expectations. It is about more than just what happens in the photographs, although that is the ultimate goal. We also help identify if this is the business for them. We don’t want to encourage anyone if this is not going to be good for their individual growth. Each model has an amazing library of talents and creative ideas that blow me away, and we encourage all of those aspects of their life as well.
One of the unique aspects of your company is the access to established models and the experience they bring. Talk to us about why that was important for you to include as part of your coaching.
I am so grateful each one decided to join me as a team in this new concept. They offer unique insight and perception. They are incredible women. The coaches are sharing what they do every day for a living, and that is incredibly powerful and organic. There is no substitute for experience. Who better to coach a model than a top model who has first-hand experience, knows the pressures and challenges on and off the set, has stories to tell, and has worked with all the top people. A top model knows how to command the attention of a room and hold it. I coach each of our clients on the basics of the business. I know how an agency works, what agencies are looking for, how models should present themselves, how they can build confidence, and what they should expect. Sharing our knowledge is of incredible value to any new model stepping into the world of modeling.
What are some of the common pitfalls you’ve witnessed in a model’s career and how does personal coaching mitigate those risks?
As scouts and agents, we get really excited about the potential in a young model and what we know is possible. They may look the part physically, but chances are they are not prepared emotionally or don’t have the strength to manage living as a model yet. Jumping in too young can be damaging to their potential success in the future, so we try to avoid that by ensuring they are prepared. There is no loss in having a model wait until the timing is right for them to step onto the big stage. In the meantime, we coach them up until that moment and support their individual growth. If a model isn’t ready to be accepted by an agency in a big market or lives far from a legit working market, we can coach them from a distance. Technology has made it possible to connect with our models all over the world and prepare them for the unknowns of working with an agency.
How is managing a model’s career different now than say a decade ago?
I think it has changed a lot and yet stayed the same. For a model at the highest level, it appears the same from the outside. However, as brands change strategy, so do creative concepts and technology in order to attract new audiences. So that changes the choices for agents and models. Traditional publishing has changed, as well as retail formats, and media. Social platforms like Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and YouTube are game changers for content and creators as brands compete to get our attention. Top-level models are working with top-level creatives, and brands will always hire at that level. However, there are new modern formats that are super exciting to witness. Many models have their own platforms, create their own content, and connect with their audience in independent ways.
What advice would you give an aspiring model looking to break into the industry?
It is a really fun and fast action-packed business. This industry is filled with incredible people and places to go. When it’s going well, it’s amazing. But it is a business with natural ups and downs and can be confusing at times, especially for the inexperienced. Do your research. Learn first and then take action. Your beauty will be part of your success, but it is not all of it.
Talk to us about what it takes a young model to succeed in this industry.
It’s a business that is creative and exciting, but it is still a business. Go after opportunities and don’t take them for granted. Absorb, learn, and be a professional. Tolerate the challenging times with a bit of humor.
What are the common misconceptions young models have when beginning their careers?
“As soon as I get signed with an agency, I will start working right away, get my own apartment, and be successful.” I hear this every day. Getting signed with an agency is a vital step in that process and is a super exciting milestone goal. Not many models gained their success, wealth, or notoriety overnight, although this does happen and is not impossible. However, they all worked hard to get there and stay there.
What can we expect to see next from The Model Coaches?
We are focused on reaching a new wider audience. We are establishing ourselves as the “go to” for the truth about the industry. We work with great agencies and build a positive perception of what they do for the models they represent. We know there are negative aspects to every industry, and so we want to be a part of the solution. We love this industry, and all of us are grateful for the opportunities we have been given. Model Talks is our new platform that was created so that our audience can hear directly from our coaches and learn from their stories. In addition to my Model Prep sessions, we are adding more coaching opportunities such as On Set Coaching with Beri Smither, a model with an extensive history and work, and Social Branding with Jessica Surowiec, who coaches on brand building for the beginner. Allie Ayers, model and CEO of Bissy Swim, highlighted for her appearance in Sports Illustrated, is a model coach with us. Emily Sandberg, model and CEO of Twice Social, has been a coach and consultant since our beginning and is always available to aspiring models. And we have more to come!
New to the mix is Club Model Talks, a membership club, in which we share information and allow teens a safe environment to share their stories. We are super excited about it because we love making that personal connection. It involves a lot of content creation and guidance from our coaches. We are planning our next Model Talks Live event in NYC in April. Our first one was a huge success, and we had a blast hosting seminars and having live coaching sessions.
Learn more at The Model Coaches