Sophie Fraser-Smith was told she was too short for the international catwalk, but she didn’t let that stop her from strutting her stuff.
The 5ft 7in Bermudian beauty is now making a name for herself, modelling in online catalogues and print magazines in London, UK.
The 18-year-old was able to do it with help from Leni’s Model Management, a boutique model agency located in the fashion hub of East London.
She said it was well-known for taking on “shorter models”, girls between 5ft 6in and 5ft 9in. Top modelling agencies generally look for women who are 5ft 8in or taller.
“I’ve been working full-time with Leni’s since last August and have worked for many online brands, including ASOS, Pretty Little Thing, New Look and Vavavoom,” Ms Fraser-Smith said.
“I have been published in roughly four online and print magazines. I’ve also done some more unusual jobs such as at a hair presentation, working on location for a London Fashion Week photo shoot and appearing in a music video with [London-based rapper] Wizzy Wow.”
The former Bermuda High School student got her start in modelling seven years ago.
Her father, Laidlaw Fraser-Smith, encouraged her to take classes with the JaKoMa Group. “I hadn’t considered modelling before then, but it sounded like fun and it really was,” Ms Fraser-Smith said.
“From there I took stepping stones that led me here. Lamont Robinson, the model coach for JaKoMa, suggested I try out for the Evolution Fashion Show in 2012. “Top Model UK were invited to the show and director Geoff Cox shortlisted roughly ten girls that he’d be interested in pursuing. That list included two of my good friends — Katie Arnfield and Julia Lines — as well as myself.
“In the next two years we participated in the Top Model Fashion Show, as well as International London Fashion Week events.”
Ms Fraser-Smith initially had no idea how far she could take her modelling career. “In fact, I still don’t,” she said. “I just look at it as one stepping stone at a time until I get to a place where I’m happiest.” In the meantime she’s learning a lot about the industry and herself. She’s found that rejection comes with the territory, so it’s important to have good self-esteem and to know your worth.
“You’re always being compared to the girl next to you,” she said. “But probably hardest for me is that although you’re not always working, you are still always a model.
“That means that you have to eat right, sleep right, constantly be active and constantly be ready all the time.
“I’ve been called an hour before a job that was 45 minutes away, so being prepared is important.
“Having said all that, modelling is a good lifestyle. You have motivation to take care of your body and health. You also get to meet lots of interesting people every day and each day is different and exciting because you’re constantly on your toes and getting involved.”
There’s no greater feeling for Ms Fraser-Smith than the one she gets seeing her images get to print and the confidence that comes from hearing positive feedback.
“The industry is full of variety and it’s never going to be one thing about you that gets you a job, but a combination of your portfolio, personality, look and sometimes even style all make a difference,” she explained.
“Successful models are the best versions of themselves and are adaptable to many different clients’ visions.
“Of course I get told no all the time, and it’s not a good feeling, but most of the time it’s not because they don’t like me or because I’m not good enough.
“It’s because they want a girl with blue eyes or curly hair or more experience and I really can’t get upset about that because another client will hire me because I have brown eyes and straight hair.”
Her advice to any young people considering a career in modelling: get as much local experience as you can.
“I would definitely encourage people to join the City’s Evolution Fashion Show. It can give you an idea of what the industry is like from the casting to rehearsals to show day,” she said.
“The rehearsals are also an amazing way to improve your catwalk.”
She also encouraged people to apply to agencies overseas to see what responses they get.
However it’s best to keep those contracts open so you are not tied down to one agency, she added.
“Living in Bermuda will make it harder to get work because most of it will be overseas, but get in front of a camera as much as possible so that on school holidays or after finishing school you’re already comfortable and knowledgeable about modelling and can get clients quickly,” Ms Fraser-Smith said.
“If you don’t think you’re good enough to model, the good news is you can be. Successful models come in all different shapes and sizes. So just be the best version of yourself and confident in front of the camera and that’s usually enough.”