Source: Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Maxie J. / Ellaé Lisqué / Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Maxie J. / Ellaé Lisqué
Name: Maxi James
Claim to Fame: James owns Ellaé Lisqué. Her designs have been featured on the cover of ESSENCE and she has also modeled for Ciroc and DeLeón Tequila.
The venue was paid for, the lighting was in place, the photographer was ready but the model was MIA. Maxi James was prepping a photoshoot for her clothing brand Ellaé Lisqué when a model she hired was absent.
“Because the model canceled, I was kind of thrown into it,” she told HelloBeautiful. “I had already paid for everything the hair and the makeup and I couldn’t reschedule, I didn’t want to lose my money.” As an entrepreneur, she knew how to troubleshoot an unexpected obstacle. “So I said, all right, forget it. I’ll just model it myself. And I was a complete nervous wreck because I was super shy when it came to cameras.”
Her brother and web developer had been encouraging her to model her own designs for years but she did not see it as an option because she was slightly more “curvy,” than the standard the industry had set for years. “I’m not like, you know, the typical skinny, tall runaway model. So I didn’t really see myself as a model,” she explained.
Sales soared, when she slipped into her own designs, and she continued to promote her vision on her back. “I ended up doing pretty well and the collection sold out,” she reported proudly.
She did such a good job representing her own brand that others took notice. Soon she was being asked to model for brands like Ciroc and DeLeón placing her and the company she was building in front of even more eyeballs.
“I still don’t really look at myself as a model,” she said. “I brand myself as a fashion designer, brand myself as a mentor to people that want to come up in the game behind me.”
Other brands would beg to differ and continue to ask her for services. “I am accepting that modeling has keeps knocking at my door and it has definitely boosted my confidence a little bit more,” she admitted.
Having modeling experience allows her to see the back of her house at her shows from another perspective. Recently she held a star studded fashion show for her company (where our good sis Sevyn performed) and prioritized the models’ comfort to provoke the best performances from them. As a former stylist she knew the importance of taking care of those attending to the models as well.
Her number one rule for brand’s representatives? Have fun!
The models who had followings like Bria Myles were treated the same as the other models in the show.
“I didn’t want it to feel like work. You know, getting glammed up is fun, your hair and your makeup. It’s fun, you know? And it should feel fun!”
While runway shows are notoriously short the hours leading up to the productions can be uncomfortable stretches of time where the bare minimum amounts of food and drinks are provided. James took a different approach to ensure that everything was kept on track.
“They had lunch and dinner,” she said. “Call time was two o’clock and the show didn’t start until midnight. So I made sure that we provided lunch and dinner. Everyone had satin robes.” She wanted those involved in promoting her company to feel cared for. Her business choices are informed by her faith. “I keep God first in my journey and in my in everything that I do,” she said.
“It was good vibes and everyone felt pampered at the show. It’s important to me that the models feel an experience with me because that’s what I execute with every aspect of my business. And I’m not going to cut it off at my models,” she continued.
When casting models for her show she tried to showcase a variety of body types, something sorely missing from some other designer runway shows and presentations.
“I made it very clear that I wasn’t looking for the typical model thing. My brand really is for the round away girl,” she declared.
Her signature special occasion birthday dress was placed on a plus-size model.
“It’s important to me that everyone feels important. That’s a part of helping me execute my vision because they are important to me. So that’s what I want them to feel.
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