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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tips for Building an Entourage

When I use the term "entourage" as it relates to modeling, I like to think of this as a model's dream team. A group of highly talented individuals that are dedicated to making the model look his/her best.

Unlike the traditional definition for celebrities, where an entourage consists of a group of admirers and fans that just ride on a person's coattails and partakes of their success, I believe a model's entourage should serve as a more functional and businesslike entity.

If you're a model that wants to build an entourage, below are some helpful tips for pursuing such an endeavor with favorable results (if you simply want a group of people to just follow you around to make you feel self important, this blog pots won't be of any interest to you):

An Entourage Works "With" You, Not "For" You

I don't know why, but I think the word entourage has a negative connotation to it. Maybe because this term is originally related to A-list celebs that have the people in their entourage falling all over them left and right and basically serving as "Yes Men."

I'm no diva so I would never think of or treat anyone in my entourage this way. I strongly encourage models looking to build an entourage to use the mindset that these professionals are your partners, not subordinates. Yes, they are using their expertise to bring out the best in you and are following your orders but it is important to keep things in perspective. When you maintain that partnership relationship, it demonstrates an equal balance of respect.

Going into an entourage situation with a positive mindset and not a "holier than thou" attitude will bring out the best in yourself, as well as those in your crew.

Hire People You Trust

Because an entourage is all about taking care of a model's needs, it is important that the people you choose to have in your life in this capacity are individuals that you trust and get along with. A great starting point for locating people to include in your entourage are friends and family that have proven expertise in their respective fields (the keyword here is "proven"...just because your friend or cousin claims to be good at makeup doesn't mean much if their work isn't really that good or if their only experience has been putting makeup on their friends).

It is usually best to seek out people you already know first because chances are you've already developed a sense of trust with them. They know you well enough to understand what results you're looking for and how you operate. An entourage of people you've already established a relationship with means less of a learning curve that typically comes with hiring strangers you've never worked with before.

Spread the Word

The beauty of today's technology is that it's easy to reach a large group of people with little to no effort. There are a few ideal online resources that are perfect for advertising a casting call for your entourage needs.

Social networking sites that cater specifically to the modeling industry (Model Mayhem and One Model Place are prime examples) have casting sections, where you can create a detailed post about what you're looking for and how candidates can get in touch with you to be considered.

Twitter and Facebook are other great places to let people know that you're putting together an entourage. Models with Facebook fan pages should definitely use this resource to encourage their followers to submit themselves (if they have the right skill set and experience) or recommend individuals they think would be a good fit.

Include an Interview Phase

The individuals that make up a model's entourage are people that he/she will be in constant contact and communication with. Because of that, it is essential to screen the people you're considering. It's important to have an in-person meeting/interview so that you'll know what to expect.

A person's online profile and portfolio is all well and good but the physical interaction and working relationship is what will make or break the success of your entourage. The meeting/interview doesn't have to be super formal--you want to see each person in his/her most natural state. You'll be able to tell right away during the meeting if this is someone that you feel comfortable around and can envision working with.

Only Add the Essential Players to Your Team

While the exact people in a model's entourage varies, the most common slots that should be filled include (but are not limited to):
  • Makeup Artist
  • Hair Stylist
  • Wardrobe Stylist
  • Personal Assistant
You'll notice that I didn't add photographer to the list. That's an optional choice. Models are encouraged to work with multiple photographers to add more diversity to their portfolio. However, if there is one or two photographers that you enjoy shooting with, by all means add them to your dream team.

Pay for Their Services

Unless your entourage consists of your BFFs, it's highly unlikely that you'll find people to join your entourage and offer their services for free. There may be exceptions to the rule where the crew will come together for the benefit of tearsheets or copies of the images, which can be used to update and enhance everyone's portfolios but in general, you'll have a more loyal entourage if there is pay involved.

You don't have to spend a small fortune to keep your entourage intact. This is where it is important to negotiate rates for each person in your entourage. Most times, if a person knows they'll get consistent bookings through you, they will be open to offering a special rate that is less than what they might typically charge a regular client.

Don't have the funds for an adequate rate? The power of negotiation is everything. At minimum, at least try to afford paying for their gas and any applicable parking expenses. Providing food and drink is another great way to compensate industry professionals when money is tight. While not all people will accept these forms of compensation, there are some that will and will be thankful for the consideration, instead of assuming that you want them to work for free.

When it comes to paying your entourage, be consistent and timely. If you say you'll pay same day, stick to that promise. If you're cutting checks, make sure you have the right contact info (mailing address) and keep everyone in the loop as to when you've mailed out their checks. Ask for confirmation so that you'll know each person got paid on time.

Don't Date Your Entourage!

It's common sense but is worth mentioning anyway. The last thing you want is to introduce any tension or drama to the entourage setting and dating someone in the group is the fastest way to accomplish just that.

People in a model's entourage work closely with one another and become a tight knit unit. Having a model dating one of the crew increases the odds of things going awry, especially if a breakup or arguments are involved. Keep your entourage all about work and it will help everyone stay focused.

Can't help your feelings? Then do the right thing and have that individual leave their position in the entourage. You may think I'm being too serious/dramatic but unless that person is very secure and low-drama/maintenance, continuing to have him/her work in that position will change the playing field and cause them to lose that business relationship and start treating you as a buddy/sweetie instead of a working partner. You'd be amazed how a person can change in all aspects once you place that relationship title on it.

My best piece of advice would be to keep the two separate at all costs.

Not all models need an entourage but if you come across people in the industry whose work you love and you enjoy working with them, it doesn't hurt to add this aspect to your modeling career. It makes your life much easier, everyone gets to do what they love and you'll all benefit from each job booked.

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