Fashion Model-Turned-GM Kelsey Maskell

Very few models find their way from the ramp to the executive level. Here is a one of the inspirational model who has done that.

Fashion Collection: What is your “backstory”?

Kelsey Maskell: I am from the small town of Spearfish, South Dakota. I grew up with dreams way bigger than my surroundings. I seemed to have been born with a love for fashion and storytelling.I had an incredible family and support system, who pushed me to pursue my dreams. I graduated early from high school and headed down south to the great city of Nashville, TN where I began to develop my modeling career. I signed with an incredible mother agency in Nashville and was sent off to New York to live and work as a high fashion model.

Shortly after, I was signed with an agency in Milan, Italy. I wish I could say my whole experience working in New York and Europe was that easy, but it was far from it. The industry took its toll on me.The daily rejection and focus on the outward appearance cut deep into my spirit. As a result, I now have a huge passion to educate and equip girls who are now where I used to be. Aiding those who face the daily challenges of being defined by how they look, whether in the modeling industry or not.

FC: Share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you became a model.

KM: Growing up, Oscar de la Renta was one of my favorite fashion designers. I had the unique opportunity as a 7th grader to tour his HQ in New York and interview his lead designer. Fast forward years later, you can imagine my surprise and excitement as a young model when I found out I was requested to attend the casting for the fashion week show during my first month up in New York.

I remember waiting in anticipation to go into the casting room, where a few of his team sat behind a desk watching us give our best walk and first impressions. I was standing next to the bathroom in the lobby, when all of a sudden Oscar himself was standing in front of me, trying to make his way to the bathroom. I was in such shock, I fell back and slid down the wall onto my bum, just gazing up at him like a wide eyed little girl would. He chuckled to himself and looked down at me with his big warm smile, and said “Hi sweetie.”

I was blocking the doorway to the bathroom, sitting there staring up at him, but he was patient enough to stand there until I quickly realized what I was doing. It was quite the first impression to have with someone whose work I’d held at such high esteem all those years, but I was too ecstatic to be embarrassed.

FC: So what exactly does a model do?

KM: A model wears many hats, no pun intended. In all seriousness, the role of a model I believe is widely misperceived. Many people believe modeling is a glamorous life where, thanks to a quote by some 90’s supermodels, we “don’t get out of bed for less than $10,000.” It’s takes a lot of grit, hard work, persistence, and thick skin to make it in this industry. Success isn’t linear, its ups and downs and often never looks the way that you imagined it would.

Simply put, a models role is to help make a product look it’s very best, in order to sell that product to the masses.

FC: What do you think makes your stand out? Can you share a story?

KM: “That girl has so much joy. Why is she so happy?” I hear those phrases a lot. What I’ve discovered is that joy, compassion, passion and love are the things that make life worth living. Sadly, few people in the entertainment industry these days can say they live every day full of joy. I’ve discovered that happiness is circumstantial, but joy is found in the heart. When you create deep and meaningful relationships in your life, that’s when you really start living!

FC: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?

KM: Absolutely! My family and my faith are my rocks. My parents have always been a phone call away, to talk me off any ledge I might be about to fall off, metaphorically speaking. They believe in me and speak encouragement on those days when I want to give up. Everyone pursuing a dream needs someone in their life who can encourage them to keep going on those hard days that we all have.

FC: How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

KM: I feel very fortunate to have learned so much at a young age. I have encountered many negative influences and forces in my journey, and now use those experiences as a platform to speak truth to others. I feel so fortunate to be able to encourage women on a regular basis. I share with them that models are some of the most insecure people on the planet which proves that how you look doesn’t give you security or a true identity.

Is there a person in the world, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why?

KM: Tom Hanks. He is one of my favorite actors since I was a child. He is an expert at his craft, and has managed to have a family and remain a kind, solid man throughout his career. I think I could learn a lot from him. That Thing You Do… Great movie!