Agency Director, Phoenix Models London
Lauren Wyper is the Founder and Agency Director of Phoenix Models, in London, England. The agency is relatively new, but its agents draw from over 16 years experience to provide tailored representation and career management to each of their models. Phoenix Models' clients include British Vogue, Adidas, Nike, Stone Island, Urban Outfitters, ASOS, among others.
We had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Lauren about the agency and her experiences of starting an agency. Here's what she had to say...
Solstice: You’re originally from Scotland, moved to Australia and have been living in England for the past few years. Please tell us about what you did in all those countries and which one is your favourite.
Lauren: I left Scotland at 19 to travel after finishing school and went straight to Sydney, I happened to meet a model agent in Sydney who had just opened his own agency ‘The Agency Models’ and he trained me up over a number of years, it was right beside Bondi Beach and an amazing opening to my career as an agent - I then went on to co-found a boutique agency called ‘Fivetwenty Model Management’ which is now a very successful agency in Sydney. We have a relationship with them and we look forward to bringing some amazing aussies over here. Upon returning to London I was a Model booker at ASOS which was an incredible experience to be on the client side then I went onto work at Leni’s models before going out as an independent mother agent.
Solstice: You previously worked at a model agency in London. How did that experience help you when setting up your own agency?
Lauren: That was a wonderful experience with a great team - working at any agency gives you different strengths and you always learn so much by the dynamic of who you are working with - my previous agency had a strong head booker and wonderful scout both of which I learned alot about the London market from. These experiences teach you what works and how to be better at your role as a booker but also what does not work and what to avoid from an outsiders perspective.
Solstice: Is being an agency founder a 24/7 job? If so, how do you cope with that?
Lauren: This is most definitely a 24/7 role - from 1am Whatsapps from models to staying up all night to video call overseas agencies - it can be very demanding especially in a day and age were there are so many means of contact however I absolutely adore my job and as cliché as it sounds it honestly doesn’t feel like work most of the time, I do try and take time out and my phone goes off however for me I like the models I represent and clients I work with to feel as though there is extra care factor at Phoenix - it doesn’t just stop at 6pm. I find yoga and meditation is amazing for stress relief and allows me to have a clear head and focus for Phoenix.
Solstice: Your agency is in its infancy, but how do you see the agency growing?
Lauren: We receive applications from aspiring models everyday. My key focus is for the agency to grow at a steady rate in order to give the models we represent the attention and focus on development as they deserve. It's very easy to get excited and want to sign everyone however the ethos behind Phoenix is that we look after our models and nurture their careers individually so we are extremely selective over who we sign. We would like a small agency with quality over quantity and happy models who are busy and know were they fit in our market.
Solstice: Do you enjoy going out and scouting models? What do you look for in a model?
Lauren: I try to scout most days - I actually really enjoy it. It is such a buzz to find the models you are looking for. This is a difficult question as there isn’t one single type of aesthetic which I look for - our client base is so varied so when out and about I may have several different briefs in my head - one running trait is models who have a presence and how they carry themselves I am more inclined to approach someone who walks with confidence and clearly has there own style. On a Monday I could be searching for a petite blonde for one of our online clients petite section but on a Tuesday I could be looking for a 5’11 androgynous brunette for up coming fashion week in September - It would be a successful day If I found both.
Solstice:What has been your biggest challenge so far in setting up and running your agency?
Lauren: In the inception phase you become a ‘Jack of all trades’ so from scouting to dealing with your own accounting to editing the models images yourself - It has taught me a lot but putting so many ‘different brains on’ in one day can be overwhelming, luckily we are moving out of that phase now however it is an invaluable experience and when you really love what you to any challenge is a worthy challenge. Having set up another agency previously a lot of the fundamentals come really easy.
Solstice: Does your agency have a style of model you look for? Some agencies prefer alternative looking models, some like very young models etc.
Lauren: We are known for representing a variety of models and this works really well for us we want to represent models who are unique and interesting but professionally and personally - Looks vary however we do have an interview process as a ‘Phoenix Model’ generally is well rounded with there other life interests for example one of our models is an international DJ and Producer and one of our male models is a dancer at the renowned Royal Ballet School - for us its more of the complete package we go for as opposed to a specific look. We have models who are 5’4 and others who are 5’11 - some may be very sporty and lean and others slightly more curvy. We are aiming to achieve an aesthetic that is a true representative of society as lets face it we don’t live in a world were everyone is a size 6 and 5’11 - promoting healthy body image is important to us.
Solstice: What advice would you give to a model that is just starting out in the industry?
Lauren:I am always very transparent with any aspiring model - this is a tough industry and is of course so competitive - the first thing to do is research the market and try and figure out were you fit - are you a plus size model or a petite model, some agencies cater better for niche categories and others cater only for high fashion models - before applying to numerous agencies its so important that it will be the right fit for you. Your image is of course your business so it is important to eat well, exercise daily, invest in your skincare and hair regime. Movement is very important as no matter how new you are clients expect you to move with ease and confidence - my advice is to watch youtube videos of how models move and blast your favourite music whilst practicing in the mirror.