On this week’s edition of Entrepreneur of The Week, we are celebrating the multifaceted model turned international talent head hunter, ELOHOR
of Beth Model Africa, Beth Model London, and most recently an innovative kiddies brand, Beth Model Kiddies.
The fashion force opens up exclusively about why she chose this niche of business,
her conglomerate’s meteoric rise to success, the struggles she faced when breaking into international waters
and the truth surrounding black models in fashion.
Q. A lot of people think there are more important things than fashion.
Why this particular niche of business (Model /Talent management in fashion)
For me fashion is an art form, and art is the ultimate form of expression. Fashion expresses who we are, and I feel it will always be a major part of how we view the world.
From ancient times till now, fashion has shaped how people interact with the world around them and how disparities between social classes and social systems are viewed.
For me it was a passion turned profession, cliche as that may sound, because I had identified an existing problem in an industry I loved so much, and set out to create a solution.
Today, within the Nigerian – and African – setting, I am proud to state that I have made enormous contributions to setting the pace and changing the norm with my modeling Agency BETH.
Q. Share a little about your entrepreneurial journey. And, do you come from an entrepreneurial background?
E: Yes I do come from an entrepreneurial background, and I think that my Mum had a major role to play in my flair for business, because she is strong-willed both as an individual, and as a successful business woman.
I started my business at the age of 16. Back then I engaged in buying and selling and basically just started up business ideas that turned a profit here and there.
Somewhere along the line, my passion for modeling took over and,
(Elohor pictured amidst the Miss Nigeria UK 2001 contest)
while I did not make it as a Top model, I recall my Mum would always say “Hard Work Pays and I should never give up”. I am glad I listened to her words because BETH Model Africa has a reputation for excellence and as a pacesetter.
Tell us one thing people don’t know about you/won’t expect.
E: Um, I tend to appear very serious and outgoing
but I actually like staying at home and I like to dance a lot.
How would you describe the modelling industry in Africa?
E: The modeling industry in Africa has come a long way. It was very difficult back then when I started the Agency. We had designers who were struggling on their end to put out collections, advertising agencies that preferred to use their family members rather than actual models.
But the game really changed with the start of major fashion weeks here in Nigeria.
As it is today, the modeling industry in Nigeria (and Africa at large) is in a better place. There is more of a coordinated relationship between models, photographers, designers, makeup artists, and several other elements that make up the fashion industry. And the Agencies are there to mediate these relationships.
Models are being given more and more recognition and receiving better pay .
How would you describe the global modelling industry?
E: The global modeling industry, especially as it exists in the major fashion centres (Paris, London, New York, and Milan) is quite a lucrative one. There is a deeply ingrained work ethic and modeling is seen as a profession. There is a proper interaction and integration between the fashion industry and other sectors like entertainment, which ensures that there is an inflow of capital from which models can make a decent living. It is a structure that we here in Africa are now trying to emulate with varying degrees of success.
This 2020 (especially) many black models have spoken up about the prejudice and marginalization in the modelling/fashion industry? What is your view on this?
E: Well I can understand exactly where they are coming from. It is a problem that has existed for decades. Even when I did a bit of modeling in London, I faced that prejudice first hand. I am actually glad that more and more voices are joining the global debate.
Even as an Agent, I have had my models call me from all over Europe with complaints here and there and sometimes I am pained because I have to speak to the Agents over there, because the scope of my operations are here. So it is really amazing that more and more voices are joining the fray.
Q. Have there been any notable changes you’ve witnessed in the industry since you started out?
E: Oh most definitely back then it was much harder because modeling as a profession wasn’t so recognized. Just about anybody could be a model, and the so-called “international standard” hadn’t settled in here. So I had to struggle not only to set myself apart from the other “Agencies”, but to set the standard for what a “professional model” was.
Things were tough starting out, I had to deal with clients who had huge expectations but super low budgets, advertisers who preferred to use their friends and family rather than hire professional models, etc.
Today we are witnessing a gradual shift marked by an increased integration between the fashion and entertainment industries, as is obtainable abroad. This has made the Nigerian fashion industry one of the top three on the African continent.
Describe the ultimate BETH model…characteristics, etc. WHAT make you know yesssss we are signing this model, he/she fits in line with our brand?
E: When scouting a model she has to have a good personality…Face, Height , body etc.
The ideal height for a male model would be between 6”- 6”3. For a female model, she should be between 5”9 – 5”11. . For the facial structure, we look at high cheekbones, nose, eyes, clear skin, etc. Once we see a potential model with these characteristics, we sign them.
Talk us through your ability to break into the international market?
E: This was one of the hardest things to do, made even more difficult by models clamoring for international placements.
These models see their counterparts posting Instagram pictures and walking for major brands, and the urge to “go international” has become a do or die affair.
But back then it was quite difficult especially with trying to figure out what the “international standard” was. So initially it was a thing of trial and error.
But over the years, we’ve been able to place major faces abroad, the likes of Mayowa Nicholas, Nora, Davidson, etc. so we now have a reputation as a mother agency to relate with, especially with the vast majority of our international partners.
What is one thing you wish you were told before embarking on this business?
E: That it won‘t be as easy as I thought it would be.
What is the most challenging situation you encountered as an entrepreneur and how did you work through it?
15 years running Beth modeling agency has come with a lot of challenges. Dealing with Models, parents, clients, agencies etc.
One major challenge was my first international model who we discovered at computer village. She had no clue about modeling, never been out of the country before and she had major bookings in Paris, London and Milan… I had to pause everything I was working on to babysit her and train her and after doing this for 6 months she decided she did not want to model anymore.
What has been the most exciting show/shoot you’ve covered?
E: My most exciting show was when Mayowa Nicholas did the Victoria Secret show. That’s one of the shows I had always wanted to attend and I was so proud as an Agent having a model I found and developed walking the show.
My most exciting shoot was when Mayowa Nicholas got her first Vogue Cover.
When I stated out in the industry, I thought to myself that it would probably take two years to get there, but it took so long and when it happened, I was super proud.
Why should anyone use BETH MODELS as opposed to other competitors in the market
E: Our models are trained and developed.
We also ensure that those who have worked internationally do regular workshops on ethics and etiquette for the Nigerian-based models so they understand the market, whenever they’re around. This way, our models bring the “international standard” to all their jobs here in Nigeria. This is not to say that there aren’t other Agencies that have professional models, but our clients are content to come back to us over and over again due to the professionalism of our models.
Beth Models is currently scouting and online applications are welcome.
If you meet the requirements below or know anyone who wishes to start a life changing journey, this link has all the necessary info.