From the outside, being a model looks like it’s all about glamour, but these walking mannequins fulfill a very important job inside of a multi-billion dollar industry.
One of these beauties is our cover model Naimah Terry. She works in various aspects of the modeling industry and is also announcing a new venture today.
I think your modeling journey is fascinating. Can you tell us when and how you got started?
Well, if you ask my mom, I got my first big break when I was a one-year-old and crawled away from the dinner table at a restaurant and stumbled upon a producer. That producer not only returned me to our table but booked my mom and I for a commercial they were taping. They were in the middle of casting babies that week. 😉
I’ve been in fashion shows throughout high school and college, which taught me how to be poised and stand tall and confident, while also showing me how to interact with designers and production crew. I was in the Vogue Club in high school; no sports for me!
It wasn’t until after I graduated college that I realized I could turn my hobby and love of fashion into a career. I went to a Re/Dress Fashion Show in 2010 and saw all plus size women on the runway and was amazed!
It took a few years of networking, taking a lot of bad pictures and hearing a lot of no’s from agencies before I got my big break.
The real break was just being consistent, never losing sight of my goals, and learning and accepting my body just as it is! My body is beautiful so just embrace it! I’ve been a working Plus Size Model and Fit Model for about 4 years now.
Can you explain what a fit model does?
A Fit Model is a muse! I influence how a designer’s creation comes to life. The body, the sample size, the curves that technical designers use to make sure that a garment can fit and look great on, not just the sample size but, all sizes and body shapes.
I hated geometry in high school but it wasn’t until I became a fit model that I saw real professionals use those skills. Making clothes is a business but it’s like a science for the technical design team and the factories that produce these garments.
I am the sample size for brands such as Fashion to Figure, Adore Me, and David’s Bridal, to name a few. My body is used as the foundation on how all sizes will run. I am solid, toned and have measurements that most companies seek to have when designing for plus size women.
Here’s the very shortened down process of making an item, like the shirt you have on right now. It may start as a drawing from a designer that the technical designer then creates measurements for and sends to the factory overseas, mostly in China or India. The factory creates a sample. The sample is then shipped to NYC’s Garment District.
A meeting then takes place where the designers, technical designers, buyers and fit model are present and the model tries on that sample. Here is where the designer sees their vision first come to life and in this meeting, where the technical team has the goal of ensuring that most women, with our different but equally beautiful bodies, will also look good in this design.
Most times, a change is needed and this is where you will hear lingo, such as shoulder slope being raised ¼ inch or drop waist placement ½ inch. Very slight changes make a huge difference in the design process. After the fitting, the sample is shipped back overseas with a list of corrections to be made. A new sample is produced and shipped back to NYC and the process repeats itself until both design teams are happy and ready to move to production on that shirt.
On average I fit close to 200 garments a week between 5-10 companies running around to different buildings in Manhattan. Fittings are not so glamorous. I’m usually in active wear and sneakers with nude undergarments ready to take my clothes off literally at the drop of a dime in order to try on clothes for different brands. The best part about being a fit model is I literally see entire collections made on my body. Fashion is made on me!
Shooting e-Commerce looks glamorous but it’s a lot of hard work. Can you give our reader an inside look into what your day is like on-set?
How my day goes all depends on the client, but the preparation starts the night before. It’s important to drink lots of water and get a good night’s rest because eComm days are a lot of work.
The goal of the day is to get great product shots. If it’s a busy day, I’ve had to shoot 80 looks and go outside at the end of the day and shoot a few editorial looks. Even the most comfortable shoe will hurt after a few hours so try 8 to 9 hours of wearing not-so-comfortable shoes, still looking cute, holding it in and giving them the shot they need 80 times in one day. However, that’s rare and there are awesome clients where two models are booked on-set so the work is shared.
Models used to rely SOLELY on their agencies in building a successful career and getting jobs. Now social media plays such a big part in branding a model. How do you use social media to promote your brand?
You cannot rely only on your agent because companies are so accessible on social media now. You can build your own relationships with brands and that’s a beautiful thing. Even if you’re not building that relationship, they are still watching you. I have so many awesome clients and I wear their clothes because they support me by continuing to book me and making well-fitting clothes. It’s more than just being a model now; brands want to know you and want their models to compliment their brand. So, on my travels, I make sure I have something from a new collection from one of my clients so I can take beautiful pictures in them to show them I’m vested in the brand as well and actually wear their designs.
Today we are celebrating the launch of your new blog! Can you tell us about it? What are your plans and what will you be sharing through this new platform?
The Muse 360 is a blog to show readers the world of fashion through my lens. I work in every area of the business of modeling and I have a unique career and platform. I am also a Nomad. I love traveling this Earth and taking beautiful pictures during my travels. I want to share that with you! As a Muse in NYC, I am privy to exclusive sample sales that I’ll be sharing. I have some exciting projects in the works and I want you to stay tuned with my new blog The Muse 360. I’ll be showing you fashion, sneak peeks of new collections, tips from the perspective of a fit model on how to dress your body, travel guides, shopping guides, and more…