The owner of an agency talks about finding talent.
Karen Sigal has owned Sigal Models and Talent, an international agency based in Central Ohio, for 23 years. A former model, she started in the business at the age of 16 in her hometown of Pittsburgh.
“Being tall at a very young age, I was insecure and didn't like my height,” she says. “I saw my first live fashion show and noticed that all the models were tall. I love fashion and that was the spark that got me started.”
Sigal's work as a freelance model involved runway shows, tea room modeling, fashion prints, trade shows and showroom modeling. (Sigal Models also provided talent for this issue's cover story.)
The modeling industry has grown in Central Ohio since you launched your agency. Is that because L Brands is located here? Columbus is home to many creative fashion organizations that bring everyone in the industry together—designers, entrepreneurs, students, large companies including LBrands [Victoria's Secret, Bath & Body Works, Pink and more], Express, Abercrombie & Fitch, Lane Bryant and many others. We have Columbus College of Art Design, which adds to a strong fashion workforce.
What should potential models know before they start their careers? Before you invest your time and money or take the wrong path, please consider that this is a highly competitive and difficult industry with lots of rejection and no certainties of work. If you are serious about being a model, you must do your research. Study designers, models, photographers, fashion magazines, trends, etc. Find good mentors and influential people that can help inspire you. Young people starting out in the modeling industry are often attracted to the glamour, but not everyone is cut out to be a high fashion model. Know your market niche and get solid advice from industry professionals before investing your time in the business.
What do you wish you didn't need to teach new models? Etiquette and good manners, which never go out of style. Being humble and showing gratitude. How to handle rejection.
The modeling industry sometimes gets criticized for being unrealistic regarding body shapes and sizes. How do you respond to that? Today, in our culture, the media and the fashion industry continue to showcase unrealistic body shapes in magazines and on major runways, portraying attractive women as being extremely thin, leading to models with eating disorders, drug addictions and psychological issues. Our biggest challenge is the lack of size diversity when it comes to clothing samples. We don't live in a one-size-fits-all world.
We are, however, seeing more diversity in sizes, ethnicities and age ranges with models. By promoting diverse beauty, the media and the fashion industry are making strides toward showing how every woman can be healthy if she takes proper care of herself. Fortunately, there have been some major breakthroughs in the industry with … curvy models such as Ashley Graham, who appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated's 2016 swimsuit issue.
We all know that a person's inner beauty is what's most important. But, given that thought, what's your best advice for putting on our outer beauty? Begin by working on your posture. Your posture is important for much more than your health. A person's posture can give people the impression that they are confident in themselves. Practice standing tall and hold your head high. Remember that a smile is the best accessory a model can wear.
“While some people may be physically beautiful, they may not be model beautiful,” says Karen Sigal, of Sigal Models and Talent. “It's hard to explain, but there's an air of confidence or coolness or even a quirkiness that a model projects that makes her unique and sought after in the business.”
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