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How Designers Use Model Mayhem to Find Models

It’s quite a humbling accomplishment to be coming up on our third straight season of LA Style Fashion Week this March of 2015. Yet in the past, an invitation like this had me struck with fear of all that I didn’t know about putting on a giant runway show.

In my first season, I was told I needed 30 models to walk in my show. The catch? I didn’t have the funds to pay them, as I was working on getting my line of Brazilian-cut bikinis off the ground, and had two jobs to support my efforts. How was I going to find 30 girls who were willing to walk for free?

I couldn’t even trade for swimwear, as each bikini cost me fifty dollar to make one at a time. But of course no one in the industry – photographers, models, stylists, designers – can just work for free all the time, despite our willingness to collaborate with and support one another.

However, as soon as I posted that I was showing at Fashion Week, models began contacting me left and right, and I came to realize what a prestigious opportunity it was to walk the runway at LA Fashion Week. We were ALL doing it as a portfolio builder.


Model: Ashley Marble

There were many talented models who didn’t need a boost to their modeling resume, who were willing to walk for my line just the same. I was in awe of how many models were simply willing to walk to support what I was doing, perhaps with the universal understanding in this industry that good karma always does a person good.

In season two, nearly every single model who was asked to walk again came back to rock the runway, and that time I was at the point where I could give swimwear to the returning models. Even one model who had been a runner-up on Project Runway took the stage again, as well as another model who had become such an incredible friend – she even passed up a paying gig to walk in my show. I was floored when I discovered that, and overwhelmed with gratitude.

Eventually I got to the point where I was able to gift bikinis to bloggers and models who were doing photo shoots with me, whereas I hadn’t been able to do that before. Mailing out bikinis in bulk paired with thank you cards gave me such a feeling of accomplishment and progress.


Model: Amber Soleil; Photographer: V A S I L I S

The camaraderie resulted in the creation of a small Facebook group, which serves as a community for feedback on products that are in development. Many of these contributors are the models who will be back for Season 3 of LA Style Fashion Week. After all, they ARE our target market of bikini buyers. What’s more is that they are talented, kind, appreciative, courteous of our products and our staff, supportive, hardworking, fun, and they are the Kinsman Swim Elite.

Other Kinsman Swim Elite members include our invaluable wardrobe stylists who pull from Kinsman Swim as needed for photo shoots, photographers, and hair and makeup artists – all of whom have contributed to the growth of Kinsman Swim, starting from our most humble beginnings. And for that, we are forever in debt to each of them.

Aside from photos galore, video footage, and shout-outs that we’ve been able to provide to our talent, we’ve shown our appreciation with connections to book more gigs, as well as gifts like free jewelry and beauty services as luck has had it. We are even discussing sales rep positions with a few of them who are looking to earn extra income on an upcoming product that Kinsman Swim is rolling out.

If I could offer one piece of advice to models, no matter what level of expertise you may have reached, it is to develop and maintain relationships with the designers, stylists, photographers, videographers, and beauty providers that you enjoy working with. Stay on the top of their minds, keep them on the top of yours, and you too will become part of their elite team.

Kinsman Swim

Known for its unique designs, elegant silhouettes, and attention to detail, Kinsman Swim Lingerie SWIM Collection is designed by Joanna Kinsman and sewn to perfection in San Diego, CA. Their website is http://kinsmanswim.com .

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