Irish Women In Business: Suzzie O'Deniyi of Suzzie D Model Management
In the latest in our Irish Women in Business series of editorials, we're talking to Suzzie O'Deniyi of Suzzie D Model Management.
Having spent years as a freelance model, Suzzie decided she had something different to offer the modelling world – and was determined to make it on her own.
We spoke to Suzzie about using her past experience in modelling to branching out on her own, overcoming the nerves around 'change' in an industry, and why her mum is her role model.
What motivated you to start up Suzzie D Model Management?
During my modelling years, I always knew I would have my own business in the industry. This is my calling in life and I also have an eye for spotting beautiful and unique faces. I was also told I was good at motivating people.
But I am more than just an agent - I'm also a catwalk coach, teaching all models how to bring their best in front of the camera and on the runway. This is done by building their confidence and empowering them with my own industry knowledge and experience.
What was your background before setting up the company?
I was a freelance model with over 10 years experience in both the model and fashion industry. When I started modelling it was impossible to get signed with an agency. I thought there was something wrong with me. I wondered why no agency would take me on, but this empowered me and I took the initiative to work for myself and market myself as a freelance professional.
A lot of people think modelling is easy - that all we do is stand in front of the camera and our photo gets taken. There is so much hard work and dedication that goes into what we do.
I wanted a new career path, and I was also working part time, saving every cent that I earned to start my business. I wanted to start my business with my own hard-earned money rather than going to the bank.
What has been your biggest barrier in starting out in business?
To keep expanding my model list and client base. I'm always looking for new talent to add to my books. This is essential as a model agent.
The biggest barrier has to be "change”.
A number of businesses in fashion work with modelling agencies on a "loyalty deal". This basically means they will keep using that modelling agency for all their commercial needs.
This is a real challenge for a new agency, because those clients might not be as ready to give a new agency a chance to present something different.
Being afraid of change is an awful thing to hold. Customers gets tired of seeing the same faces repeatedly and this is something they should always keep in mind.
Change needs to be embraced dramatically.
How do you try to stand out from competitors?
Obviously I have competitors, but no one person has the same fingerprint, and for me, I use my creativity to set myself apart.
I market my business by looking at the gaps in the market, and offering clients options to fill them… something they [my competitors] are not doing.
How is your offering unique to the modelling industry?
My mark has to be three simple words: diversity, integrity and professionalism.
Diversity meaning models come in different shapes and sizes. I want to embrace the unique side of the modelling industry.
Suzzie D Model Management is hoping to define integrity, by being a business with a strong moral impact on the modelling industry.
We bring professionalism to every area of work which we do.
I ensure my team and I put more than a hundred percent of our time and effort into every task – whether that’s making a good first impression, or in our daily work.
If you can provide these three things, clients will always come back and work with you again.
What is the best thing about being your own boss?
The best thing about being your own boss has to be the power to create a change in the fashion and modelling industry. It’s something I really value in my work. I refuse to take no for an answer in anything I do or what I believe in.
Have you had many mentors? What has been their greatest advice/ words of guidance?
No, I’ve had more like a role model - which would be my mum. She always tells me " without a story, there is no glory" meaning we all have a story to share, what we have been through before we actually reach our destination of what we call success.
I also admire Norah Casey - she is an incredible business woman who can take on any task. For me this is what makes her a strong unique leading woman in her field. They would be my two motivators.
What's been your greatest moment since starting out in your company?
Providing models for the largest exhibition in Ireland, which was held in the RDS Simmonscourt, Womans World 2015. It boasted an audience of more than 37000 people over the three day event.
I have also been featured on Xpose as a fashion judge and was asked to contribute to Ondine magazine as a fashion and style columnist.
Would you have changed anything you did in starting out on your own?
I would not change a thing. Everything I have done has made me a better business woman to date.