Dorthy Combs, the former director of Plus Beauty and the owner of Dorothy Combs Models in Miami, shares what you can do to become a part of her very successful, exclusively plus, agency.
What is your background in the industry?
I have been working specifically in the plus size modeling industry for ten years.
How many models are on your boards?
We have an exclusive talent data base of 35-40 plus size models.
What percentage of your bookings are US vs. abroad?
We successfully book our models throughout the world. Approximately sixty percent of our bookings are in the United States and forty percent of the bookings are abroad.
Why did you decide to start an all plus agency?
Throughout my years of booking plus size talent, I found a need in the Miami market for a specialized agency which exclusively focuses on the needs of plus size models.
When you are evaluating new models, what do you look for?
American sizes 10 – 18, 5″9 and up, evenly proportioned bodies, good skin and photogenic, outgoing and a team player, ages 15 to 40. We look for models who have a confidence in their own body image, well groomed, professional and that are at ease with themselves and others.
Would you rather see snapshots/Polaroids or professional shots from aspiring models?
Professional shots are not required for submission. Initially I prefer to see snapshots or Polaroids.
How has the industry changed since you first started?
When I first started booking plus size models the clientele was limited. Today public awareness and acceptance of plus size women has opened up many new opportunities for plus size models.
Who are some of your clients?
To name a few in the US we work with Eddie Bauer, Talbot’s, August Max, Macy’s, JCPenny’s, Target, Sears, and Ulla Popken. We also have numerous clients abroad.
What size range do you find works most frequently?
Our clients work with all sizes, but mostly size ten through sixteen.
What is the season in Florida?
The season usually begins around November or December and ends the beginning of May. Our agency books all year round.
Is there modeling hope for a girl who is under 5’8″ (or 5’9″) in any market?
The majority of my clients prefer the models to be 5″9 and over. I will consider models that are under 5″9 who live in south Florida. I do have a few clients in Miami that would work with local models that are 5″7 or 5″8.
When a brand new model is signed with your agency, how much should she expect to spend to get started (comps, developing a portfolio, etc.)?
New models can expect to spend anywhere from $1,000 to $1,500. This would include the cost of a few tests, portfolio books, composite cards, etc.
Would you rather sign a brand new face or an established model with a developed book?
I consider new models as well as established models as long as they are right for the agency.
What do you feel is the most common error models make (finances, photography, etc.)?
Sometimes models make the mistake of testing with a photographer before they go to see the agencies. It is much better to get signed with an agency first. Agencies normally like to recommend their own photographers and develop the models themselves. I also recommend whenever a new model books a job that it very important to invest some of that money back into modeling to further their careers.
How do you feel about tattoos/piercing, cellulite, stretch marks, and acne in relation to prospective models?
We prefer that our models avoid tattooing, and facial piercing. We encourage proper eating to keep their weight consistent and exercise to avoid cellulite and stretch marks. Models should have clean clear skin to make it easier for the makeup artists on bookings and tests to do their jobs.
Do you market your models around the country/world or in Florida only?
We market our models all over the world.
Do you market your models to other agencies or are you an exclusive agency?
We represent our models exclusively in the Miami market and will place certain models in other markets to further their careers.
What do you think sets your agency apart from larger agencies?
As a specialty agency we cater specifically to the plus size industry. Since we are a smaller agency there is more time to personally devote to the development of our models and the ongoing expansion of our agency.