Three and a half years ago I moved back home to Derry from London to start my own business. My background was public relations and marketing and I felt I had seen a niche in the market as no company offerred the service in the city. Once I had started up the business, it became clear that I needed to book models on a regular basis. I resourced them from Belfast for photocalls and promotions, but the cost was very high and I just couldn’t understand why their wasn’t a local alternative. I launched Converse Model Agency in February of 2008 to meet this need and the company grew to become one of the country’s top agencies. Off the back of the agency launch, I organised and ran the first Derry Fashion Week and kicked the week off with an event I created called ‘Living Dolls,’ which saw models pose as live mannequinn’s in the windows of Leading retailers. It’s been a busy few years with the agency, which led to me being shortlisted as ‘entrepreneur of the year’ in 2009, which was such a great honour. I had a lot of ups and downs and have learnt so much about running a business and about myslef. My proudest achievement with the company, which represents over eighty models, is that I have been able to give a lot of people an opportunity to get involved in the industry who may not had a chance and have got to know so many of people I’ve worked with and call many friends.
Our first fashion show and modelling competition: Grainne on the left worked with me over the last few years and still helps me out at bridal fayres from time to time. Carly on the right interned with me during the first few months of setting up the business.
Here’s me briefing the models for the first event of Fashion Week, Living Dolls.
The models as they made their way down the escalator before they took their place in the window’s of retailers.
Starting the agency gave me a unique opportunity to develop as a photographer also. Since starting the business, I shot models and fashion editorials and continued to do this over the last number of years. My heart is now in shooting wedding photography, it’s what I enjoy doing, but I try to infuse my images with a fashion sensibilty.
This week the business was acquired by the team behind Pure Magazine (Magazine of the Year 2011). I spent part of my week doing a handover with the team from Pure, and I’m feeling so excited about being freed up to concentrate on wedding photography moving forward.
Here’s to the future!