At just 23 years old, Erica Musyoka started the modelling agency, EM Models Africa and now the company boasts an affiliation to the European country Norway.
The rot within the industry has served as one factor to the stagnation of modelling in Kenya; from sexual exploitation to models being duped out of their money after jobs and lack of proper knowledge of how the industry works.
This doesn’t mean that there is no hope to flourish as a model.
Pulselive.co.ke sat down with EM Models Africa CEO Ericah who took a leap of faith, looked past her struggles and started her own modelling agency at just 23 years old.
At the age of 23 you decided to start your own modelling agency, how did you come to that decision?
I decided to start my modelling agency Finest 254 Model Management, now EM Models Africa, after I finished my fourth year at Chuka University. We had about 20-25 models at that time. I had been modelling for a couple of years and having taken part in pageantry competitions while in Campus, I saw a lot of talent from the models I used to work with, those that came after me and even those before me. They weren’t really doing much to grow and so I decided to take it upon myself to push them and challenge them to grow.
How was the transition from modelling to starting a modelling agency?
We were working but it wasn’t so smooth because we didn’t have a lot of work coming in. It wasn’t a stable source of income.
What made you continue pursuing the modelling agency business even after knowing that it was not the stable source of income?
I was aggressive and continued looking for jobs and sourcing for clients until 2016 January where I met with Hans Christensen, who is actually my husband now.
Tell us more
He was using his photography to advertise Kenya in Norway. It just felt like a great combination; me dealing with models and him dealing with photography. It was the perfect fit.
You’ve now met Hans and you get the opportunity to go to Norway where you got into Miss Africa Norway what next?
We were actually going to do our second wedding in Norway but it doubled up as a business trip as well. My objective was to advertise EM models Africa in Europe because you really can’t compare the modelling industry in Europe and Kenya. Modelling is more sustainable in Europe as compared to Kenya. I met people that inspired me and that made me hungry to show that modelling can be seen as a career that can sustain a model.
What is your take on the modelling industry being seen as vain?
There are different types of models. You can be a fitness model or if you are into pictures, you can be a commercial model. I don’t think it should be boxed in into one thing which is just focusing on looking good.
What are your top five tips for anyone wanting to get into the industry?
If you know you have the skills, the first thing you should do is look for a mentor and look for someone who can show you the ropes. Pay for training. You can even use Youtube if you don’t have money to pay for training. Make sure that you are educated about the industry before getting into it.
Be patient. Know that it takes time. Once you start, don’t stop. Be consistent.
There are a lot of models. You need to look for something that will set you apart. For example, you may have good skin. Use that to your advantage and become a commercial model. Start selling your brand through close up shots and make sure to add your own flare into it.
Make sure to brand yourself well. Take the initiative to brand yourself outside just doing a job. Take advantage of social media.
Don’t forget to market yourself and be very aggressive.
Growing up, my age mates would have a certain life planned out for them. Most of the 17, 18 and 19 year olds that I grew up with felt like they should just grow up, get married and have children. There is nothing wrong with this plan but bringing them in a hard situation will only lead them to suffer. Have goals and strive for other things in life. Learn to dream.
Training and mentorship programmes
EM Models Africa is offering Training and Mentorship program to aspiring models where they get full training for Runway and commercial modelling and intake is ongoing.
The training takes 2 months and the models also get a full portfolio. EM Models Africa also include topics like Fashion and Style, Skin Care and Health care, Branding and Marketing as they believe in the overall growth of a model. Partners like Shivonne organics teach on skin care, JE communications deals with branding and marketing. Image consultancy Africa by Binti Afrique deals with Fashion and Style.