Being a model has to be tough, right? (I wouldn’t know.) But it’s an industry that involves a lot of travel, and a lot of amazing opportunities–if you meet the right people, or if the right people like what you’re all about. Breaking into the industry, I’m sure, has its trials and tribulations. There is often rejection after rejection, before you land anything worthwhile. Since we don’t know much about the industry, or what it’s like to network and make connections in the fashion industry, we asked Marla Boehr about her experience.
A little bit about Marla
Originally from Southern Alberta, Marla Boehr has been a model on the international stage for over ten years. She has walked in numerous runway shows including Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Zac Posen; and has appeared in campaigns such as Clinique, Olay, and Smashbox. This year, you can catch her in Fashion, Flare, Winners, and The Bay. Marla currently lives in Toronto with her husband and son.
Here are the questions we asked Marla about networking, along with her answers.
How and where did you form your most significant contacts? How have these changed over time?
To be honest, I have not been the best connector when it comes to my professional life. When I first started my career as a model, I was travelling all over the world and I found it difficult to create meaningful relationships. Relationships take time to develop and when I was on the road, I felt displaced in these large cities. Church was a large part of my life growing up, so when I was in a city for an extended period of time, I tried to attend services there and connect with other expats and locals that spoke English. It was here, where people were worshipping the same God, that I found a deep sense of connection. Since having a son, I do not travel as much and I am very thankful to have found a supportive church community.
What does networking look like in your world? What are some of your top tips for successfully networking in the city?
I’m a naturally shy person as well as a perfectionist, so networking can be difficult for me. I tend to be a person who highly values what other people think of me, which can hold me back from pursuing opportunities where I might fail. Many times, my life as a model has been a rollercoaster ride of acceptance and rejection, both professionally and personally. However, over the years, I have realized that authenticity is very important to me in pursuing personal or professional relationships. At the end of the day, I want people to like me because of who I am, not what I have or who I seem to be. Therefore, when pursuing networking opportunities I try not to over-analyse situations and try to be as true to myself as possible. While this may mean turning down some job opportunities, I would rather be honest and authentic.
Networking can be difficult, especially if you are new to a city and don’t know anyone. My first tip is to be approachable and available. Although the sea of people around you may be intimidating, recognize that there are many others just like you. Secondly, get involved. Whether it is volunteering, joining a church or other religious organization, or becoming part of a running group, these are great ways to meet people and foster ongoing relationships. Thirdly, surround yourself with positive people where possible. Cities are tough and competitive environments, and it’s necessary to have friends that are supportive and encouraging through thick and thin.
What advice do you have for the woman who is just starting out in her career or considering a leap to a new career?
Connect with as many people as possible that have experience in the industry you are pursuing. While education is definitely an asset, words of wisdom from those who have firsthand knowledge within an industry can give you the most practical advice.
Thank you Marla! We especially agree with this last comment. Learn from someone you admire who has been there and done that in your industry. It may help you out immensely–or it may even change the course of your career!
Are you looking for a mentor in your industry, or looking to pass your wisdom on to the next generation? Sign up for Elletourage–that’s exactly what we’re here for.