Top Models Join Forces To Host a Panel On Female Empowerment For Foster Girls

On June 20, 2017, Select World and The Lions Model Management teamed up with Project Glimmer to create a day of empowerment for young women with the nonprofit’s community partner, Ticket to Dream Foundation, which serves foster kids in need.

This marked the first time Project Glimmer and Ticket to Dream partnered to celebrate and honor 2,000 foster girls nationwide who graduated from high school and college. Graduation is an exceptionally big milestone for these young women since statistics show that less than 50 percent of foster children exiting the system will graduate high school, less than 3 percent will earn a college degree, and 1 in 5 will be homeless within one year of aging out.

In New York, this partnership is poised to help foster youth take their first steps toward success after graduation. The day included a panel discussion with a group of successful women and a career development workshop. Project Glimmer, The Lions Model Management, Select World and Ticket to Dream united to give these young women useful tools, actionable advice, and support to help them reach their goals.

To promote Project Glimmer’s mission, Select World donated services to create a PSA campaign with the theme, “Share Your Glimmer,” featuring models from The Lions Model Management and graduating women from Ticket to Dream. GLAMSQUAD, the on-demand professional team for hair, makeup, and nails, was a beauty partner for the event, and donated the services of its beauty professionals who provided work-appropriate beauty tips during the career development workshop, and provided styling for the PSA photo shoot.

“For so long I used to hide and be ashamed of my past. But every mistake you’ve made – use it. Don’t hide it…No one has a perfect life. When we share our stories it creates a space for everyone to exist. I think that when we start sharing our diverse narratives and our stories, there’s going to be a place [for everyone]. Don’t feel ashamed,” model and activist Ebonee Davis stated.

The panel included Sabrina Yu, Managing Director, NY, Select World, Kelli J. Bartlett, Director of Makeup Artistry for GLAMSQUAD and Octavia Yearwood, artist, author, and motivational speaker, and was moderated by Isabel Gonzalez-Whitaker, Deputy Editor at Billboard. They talked about career paths, challenges, and gave advice for the young women of foster care who are embarking on their next step post graduation.


Introducing Kouka Webb

Globe-trotter Kouka Webb spent her formative years in Tokyo before settling in New York and signing a modeling contract with The Lions. Whether she’s in front of the camera for Anna Sui or covering the Cannes Film Festival as a correspondent for ELLE Japan, Kouka balances her modeling responsibilities with her studies at New York University, and if that wasn’t enough, she fills her spare time with travel. I spoke with her via email as she made her way across eastern Siberia on the Trans-Mongolian Express.

Tell us about your childhood.

My formative years were spent in Hong Kong running around on the Star Ferry and eating dim sum for breakfast. My family then moved to Tokyo, where I went to school and spent time running cross country and eating sushi (running and eating being the recurring themes in my life). After graduating high school, I moved to New York at age 17 and signed with The Lions.

How you were discovered?

I was discovered in a flower shop in Japan when I was 12. I didn’t start modeling full-time until I was done with high school, but I’m still with the same manager who scouted me, and her son is the cutest.

How do you balance modeling and studying at New York University (NYU)?

I am always much more productive when I’m busy. Having worked in Japan from a young age, I find that I learned to juggle my commitments early on and the crazier my schedule is, the better my grades are. Although striking the right balance in work and play is difficult sometimes, I cannot complain as I really enjoy what I am doing right now.

Why did you choose to major in Nutrition and Dietetics?

Nutrition allows me to combine my love of food with my favorite subject. It is a fascinating field that is constantly evolving and is important because it applies to all of us—we all need to eat to stay healthy. I love reading the food labels in supermarkets and understanding what I eat. I truly believe that we are what we eat. The adage I live by is: “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

A lot of the forums online praise your personal style. How would you describe your aesthetic?

My love of colorful clothes was instilled in me by my mother, who never liked to dress me as a child in black, gray, or navy. I would say that my aesthetic depends very much on my mood. Some days I like to pair my Nike sweatpants with my best grandad sandals, but other days I adore getting all glammed up.

What’s on your radar at the moment? 

My upcoming semester abroad in Ghana with NYU. My plan is to intern with a charity working with HIV patients in hospitals. I am looking forward to going to Africa for the first time and immersing myself in a completely different culture and environment.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I am currently writing this piece on a cramped bunk bed aboard the Trans-Mongolian Express from Irkutsk in eastern Siberia to Ulaan Bator in Mongolia. It is admittedly very shaky, but there is nothing like the open steppe to get over the stress of my finals.

What are your goals for the future?

My goal is to complete my 4-year degree at NYU and become a registered dietician. I would love to continue working in modeling alongside this and traveling the world in between. Another goal for me is to climb Kilimanjaro, as I have been bitten by the adventure bug.

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Jamie Bochert – Model, Muse, And Musician

New Jersey native Jamie Bochert’s lithe frame and angular features have drawn comparisons to Patti Smith and Shelley Duvall. As a muse to several designers, most notably Marc Jacobs, she has been a mainstay in the fashion industry for close to two decades. The former ballerina come model turned musician talks about how she got her start, what inspires her, and what it takes to be a muse.

You were studying dance in New Brunswick before you started modeling. Why did you make that transition?

I studied dance from the age of 11. It was a creative and emotional outlet for me. I made the transition into modeling because I had the opportunity, and it seemed like if it worked out it could be lucrative and I would be able to travel and see the world.

You’ve served as a muse to many designers, most notably Marc Jacobs. How do you see yourself and what does being a muse mean to you?

I’m not sure. I think maybe because I’m patient and present.

You are an inspiration to many people. What inspires you?

I can’t exactly say what inspires me, but I’m driven by people who create and are authentic, and by music, art, books, life, and nature.

How have you maintained your identity and sense of self in an industry that constantly shapes how you are perceived?

I focus on things that are important to me and keep good friends in my life.

Tell us about the genesis of Francis Wolf.

I started experimenting with music and writing a while ago. I usually write alone and then collaborate with other musicians. I play piano, guitar, keys, bass and harmonium. Other instruments included in the sound are drums, cello, and violin.

What were the challenges you overcame when transitioning into your music career?

Challenges I’ve overcome in music are feeling that I’m good enough and having the confidence to share what I’ve made.

Of all the incarnations you’ve had, which do you find the most fulfilling and why?

Music is the most fulfilling because I can completely lose myself in it.

What have you discovered about yourself through this process?

I feel like I’ve discovered many things about myself through the course of writing. I feel like the more I create, the closer I get to myself; or maybe it’s just me maturing and hearing it through what I create.

Where do you hope to be in five years?

I have no idea and I’m happy about it.

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Introducing Carson Aldridge

Hailing from the Deep South, this Georgia peach has been heating up the fashion world with his smoldering looks and easy charm. Now residing in New York City, this former athlete has been shot by photographers Bruce Weber, Rick Day, and Al Bruni in addition to appearing on the cover of V Man and Italian Vogue.

Tell us about your childhood growing up in Georgia.

I love that I grew up in Georgia. I grew up in a small town and I lived on a lot of land, close to family. I rode four-wheelers, dirt bikes, and stuff like that. I was always playing sports such as baseball, basketball, and football. My childhood was awesome. 

How were you discovered?

People kept telling me I should model, so I thought I should give it a shot. I sent a few good photos I had to agencies in Atlanta, and one agency contacted me. I met with that agency, and they wanted me to sign with them. 

How have your family and friends responded to your new career?

My friends love it—they are happy for me. My family supports me and are always very happy for me. I have wonderful family and friends. 

Tell us about adjusting to life in New York City.

It’s a lot different from home, but I love it. New York is full of so many different people from everywhere, and there are so many cool things you can do here. That’s why I’m glad I grew up in Georgia and then was able to live here now that I’m older. It’s such a great experience, and it teaches you a lot. 

You recently shot with Bruce Weber. Were you cognizant of who he was and his legacy?

I had heard of him but I didn’t know who he really was until I started modeling. The next thing you know, I get to shoot with him. Bruce is awesome, and so is his team. The shoots are such a great time.

What do you hope to get out of your career?

I just hope that I am able to live here for a while, travel a little bit, meet some new friends, then move home, get married, and have some kids of my own. 

What’s currently on your radar?

I just want to enjoy the experience living here and make some money and travel. 

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

That I’m really good with kids.

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Sylvia Van Der Klooster On Her Obsession With KLM And Working With Dries Van Noten

Sylvia Van Der Klooster’s presence has endured in the fashion industry for two decades. The classic beauty could be seen in campaigns for Donna Karan and Versace and was a favorite of designers Galliano and Dries Van Noten. Proving that nice girls don’t finish last, Sylvia was recruited to walk in Dries Van Noten’s 100th show. I recently caught up with her by email.

Tell us about your childhood growing up in Holland.

I grew up in Dalfsen, a very small village, to the east of Holland. I had a nice and safe upbringing, and my parents were very down to earth. I was surrounded by forests, which later in life I realized kept me grounded. Around the time I was 12 years old I knew that I wanted to explore the world and the little village I lived in was way too small for me in every way.

How were you discovered?

I was discovered in Vancouver, Canada when I was 16 years old and visiting family. A few scouts approached me, but I didn’t do anything about it until I was 19. I then sent some photos to an agency in Amsterdam to see if I could model. My main reason for trying to model was so that I could leave the small village where I grew up. I think within 6 months I booked my first job, on my 20th birthday, for Prada. Then things happened fast.

Illustration by: Justin Teodoro

You’ve been a mainstay in the industry for almost 20 years. How has the industry changed?

I sometimes miss the romance, the authenticity, and the creativity, but maybe I am just nostalgic. I used to walk for Galliano, when he designed for Dior, and he always made us act on the runway. That was really fun—scary—but a lot of fun. You also had Polaroids to look at before the film developed. There was still some mystery, but then again, anything seems possible now. I work a lot now that I’m 40 and doing jobs that in my early days weren’t available for that age group. The industry got faster, Instagram “likes” matter now, and the urge to find new faces became more and more important.

Tell us about your relationship with Dries and how it began.

I first walked for Dries in the late 90s. It was my favorite show back then and 5 years ago I started doing fittings for him in his Antwerp showroom. It was just such an honor. It doesn’t feel like work at all. I am such a big fan of him—his way of thinking, talking, and his approach to life. The whole company and everyone who works there are so humble and kind. It’s what makes me so passionate about clothing and fashion, and it’s a privilege  to be a part of it.

How did you feel when you were asked to walk in his 100th runway show?

I was very honored to be a part of it. It was so nice to see so many of the girls again after 15 years or so. My best friend from back then, Liisa Winker, brought her beautiful daughter, and all the Belgium girls I used to hang out with were there. It was so lovely to see all the beautiful women they became. It was magic and it made me so grateful to be a part of it to celebrate Dries and his 100th show.

Illustration by: Justin Teodoro

Tell us about the genesis of your bag design and how you describe your aesthetic.

I started making my bags 6 years ago. In between modeling I custom make them by hand and design them as well. I like to create things, and shapes and textiles interest  me very much. My bags are made to become more beautiful with age. I try to be as ecological as possible and use sustainable resources such as vegetable tanned leather which is sometimes hard with certain colors. They tend to be classic bags and I am so glad so many people like them.

What influenced your decision to stay in Holland when a lot of models moved to New York City?

I used to live in New York, but never for long periods of time. I came and went as needed, as I saw modeling as an in-between job back then. I started out as a very shy country girl in the big city, who skipped all the parties and would rather read books in my hotel. I like quiet and down-to-earth people so Amsterdam is the perfect match. With all the traveling and wanderlust over the past 20 years, I could live somewhere else but, for now, Amsterdam is home. For the last 13 years, it has made me super happy.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I don’t know. I have this strange obsession with KLM. I have loved everything about that airline for as long as I have been traveling. I collect the houses you get on business class flights, and anything with their logo on it makes me weirdly happy. High on my bucketlist is to sit in the cockpit of a KLM Boeing for a landing at Schiphol. I hope a senior KLM flight attendant is reading this.

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