Interview with Petite Plus Model Jeannie Ferguson by Mia Amber Davis
Interview with Petite Plus Model Jeannie Ferguson
by Mia Amber Davis
Often when aspiring models find out that they don’t fit certain “model standards” they toss their stilettos to the side and give up on their catwalk dreams. Those would-be models could learn a lot from a 5’3, plus petite dynamo named Jeannie Ferguson. We sat down with Jeannie to find out how, after viewing the fashion world from all sides, she’s making a name for herself as a seasoned plus petite fit, print and runway model all without representation!
How long have you been modeling?
I have been modeling for six years. I started out modeling for my sister, Designer Tasha Hill of Big Girls United aka BGU. From there I went on to work with Gwen Devoe and DSE as a tour model. When the tour ended I decided to venture out to see what else the industry had to offer.
You’re 5’3. At your height did you ever dream that a modeling career was possible?
Honestly, I never thought in a million years that a career as a model was a possibility for me! All I’d ever heard was that you must be a certain height to pursue a modeling career. I have always been told that I was too short and that I totally did not measure up as far as industry standards were concerned. I continued to pursue my dreams of becoming a model because, simply put, I don’t like to be told that I’m not good enough! I wanted to prove all those non-believers wrong.
You have a unique background in fashion. Do you think your fashion background has given you insight/help with modeling?
I have been in the world of fashion for 12 years. I started out doing allocation/distribution of footwear and went on to become a merchandiser. My ultimate dream job back then was to become a buyer for Added Dimensions. I got to make the decisions on what I thought plus size women wanted to look like. Then I began designing with my sister for BGU. My fashion background has helped me tremendously as a fit model and as a runway model. As a fit model I am able to tell if something is going to fit well based on its construction and if it will look good on every woman if she were going down the runway. If I had to start all over I would have been a designer first. I LOVE IT!
You’ve carved a niche for yourself as a plus petite fit model. Please explain your job duties.
I must wear four inch heels during my fit at all times. I make sure to remember the comments from the previous fit sessions in order to give the Technical Designers the proper information so that he or she can make the actual garment. Most of all, I must maintain my measurements which is not easy because food is a very best friend of mine!
Who are some of the clients you have worked for?
My fit, runway and print clients include Southpole, Veronica L., Rocawear, and of course BGU! My work has been seen in numerous magazines including Black Elegance, Glamour and most recently, People Magazine. I have also appeared on BET, Tyra, and E!.
What advice do you have to other models that may not be represented but have the drive to pursue a modeling career?
I would tell anyone interested in being a model that they must get themselves out there. Don’t be afraid of rejection. Don’t be afraid to go to castings, go sees or auditions and go up against some of the champions of the industry. You have to make your presence known as well as felt. You have to have a positive outlook and a great attitude. You have to not only be beautiful on the outside but on the inside as well.
Did you have to make any physical changes to your body to pursue your career?
I definitely had to make changes because I wanted the industry to take me seriously. When I first started out with BGU I was an 18/20 but prior to that, I was a size 28! Coming down to an 18/20 was a major change for me.
I realized that I could get work at that size but all the girls who wore a size 14/16 were working constantly. I pushed further and I’m now a size 14 and sometimes even a 12! I work a lot harder now to maintain this size 14. I go to the gym four times per week 2 1/2 hours per day. I do one hour with the weights and one hour of cardio. Also, my diet consists of 1200 – 1500 calories per day.
What’s the most common mistake you see aspiring models make?
The biggest mistake I see girls make constantly is not learning lessons from bad experiences. Aspiring models must know that if they do what they need to do they will have their time in this industry. However, to become a working plus model you do not have to subject yourself to tasteless, degrading photo shoots or talent and showcase extravaganzas which mask themselves as fashion shows. Do your research ladies.
Are you currently seeking representation? No, it may sound weird but I’m not seeking representation at this time. I have become accustomed to representing myself and doing a pretty good job at it! Not that I wouldn’t give an agency a try if I were approached but I am a little more seasoned now and I know what I need to look out for much the same way an agency would look out for me.
Who is your dream client?
My dream client would be Carmen Marc Valvo. He caters to real, plus size women and he didn’t just jump on the band wagon of extending his sizes. He actually caters to plus sized women as if they were “regular” sized.
What is your dream campaign?
My dream campaigns are Lane Bryant and Ashley Stewart. I think I would add diversity to their campaigns because I am natural with dark skin and a shaved head. To some it’s too ethnic to me it’s beautiful.
What are some of your industry goals?
One of my biggest goals is to be known and respected throughout the industry as the “go-to” Petite Plus Model.
Do you have any curvy role models?
My curvy role models are Queen Latifah, Mo’Nique, Mayisha, and Mia Amber. These women all have a story to tell. I can relate to each and every one of them on many different levels. People tend to see us just for the size we wear but there is so much more to us than what can be seen on the outside.
Thank you, Jeannie! I also admire your stregnth and tenacity. I’ve seen you grow tremendously and I’m very proud of you!