Let’s start from the very beginning – how did the two of you come together to form Anima Creative Management in India?
We met in Australia back in our modelling days, way before our journey took us to India. We became a couple [later husband and wife] and travelled the world together till our paths led us to Mumbai, which was about 12 years ago. We originally came to India on a working holiday trip, you could say. We both didn’t know much about the Indian fashion market, and came out of curiosity. We spent a few seasons here as models over the course of a couple of years, and saw a gap in the market, where we felt our experience and knowledge could offer something different to aspiring young Indian models, so we founded Anima Creative Management in July of 2008.
What were some of the challenges you faced initially and how did you overcome them?
As models, we were well-received and had a very positive experience. When a model turns into an entrepreneur the client relationship changes, so I think a lot of the industry had a hard time accepting that we were operating from a different dynamic. I also think being foreigners here, people sort of expected we were here as a flash in the pan, and they didn’t expect that we would be able to navigate our way through the industry here and last the distance. The fashion Industry in general seemed very unsettled with us emerging in the market. Many Indian models and local photographers disliked us for the fact that we were bringing International talent to the market. But I guess it all starts to change when people see that you are making a difference in the industry, and that your models and artists are achieving high levels of success both nationally and internationally on a consistent basis.
What is the company’s curatorial process and philosophy?
Our philosophy is to make long-lasting careers in the industry for our talent, so we only take on models and artists whom we feel have the potential to make a real impact. We generally look at models who are between the ages of 15 - 21, and have not yet entered the industry, that way we can groom them the right way, and pass on our experience and teach them how to approach the job.
A lot of your models have made it to international runways and campaigns – what is it you look for when deciding to sign on a model?
The first thing is the look of course, we can’t say it’s one particular thing, but there has to be something that stands out, something interesting about the face that makes you look twice. Height and body proportions are also very important, 5’7 is kind of the minimum; however these girls are harder to place internationally as most international agencies prefer taller girls who are 5’9 and above.
Before we sign on any model, we sit with them and their parents in the agency, and try to get to know their personality and character. If the look is there, but we feel the personality and character doesn’t represent the values of the agency, then we won’t go ahead. Personality and character is extremely important to us.
With the strong influence of the Indian film Industry, models unfortunately seem to take a back seat—has that changed over the years?
Models in India are just not valued when compared to Bollywood; it dominates everything here, and it’s so repetitive and boring, but it sells magazines and brands. We have tried to create brand names for our models by making a clear pathway to go abroad and have the opportunity to land the biggest assignments in the world, in the hope that the Industry here will also change along with the growing profile and influence that these models have. We have seen a very small spike in value for these girls, but it’s not even close to the earnings and prestige that the international community value them at. So sadly, at this point anyway, there’s still a long way to go for local recognition and value for Indian models within the Indian market when compared to Bollywood.
Lastly what is the key advice you give your models when you send them to international shores for auditions?
We definitely make sure that models are mentally and physically prepared to travel and will be able to face the immense competition and rejections out there. They have to build a strong mind and only concentrate on what is in their control such us being in shape, looking after their skin and hair, be professional while on jobs and castings, to be always on time and never compare themselves to other models since everyone of them is one of a kind, beautiful and special in their very own way. Everything else will fall in place as it should.
Text Shruti Kapur Malhotra