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We are a boutique modeling agency located in Dayton, OH dedicated to scouting, developing, booking, and placing models around the globe, making (DE-FI) Models the official Mother Agent to tomorrow's fashion stars.
For nearly a decade, our sister company, the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator, better known as (DE-FI) has been the premier fashion incubator in the United State, having helped develop and launch the careers of over a thousand models, designers, and more. Model alum from (DE-FI)'s Model Incubator have gone on to walk in Fashion Weeks in Milan, New York, and Paris for designers such as Versace, Kayne West, Saint Jesus, Saral Zens and more. They've appeared in campaigns for Kohl's, Michael Kors, ASOS, When Smoke Clears, Nike, GNC, Marc Jacobs, Nine West, and more. They’ve been profiled in InStyle and Vogue Magazines, and have appeared in national commercials, prime time tv, and film. We are a boutique modeling agency located in Dayton, OH dedicated to scouting, developing, booking and placing models around the globe, making (DE-FI) Models the official Mother Agent to tomorrow's fashion stars.
As the (DE-FI) Brand is transitioning under the (DE-FI) Global INC umbrella to establish itself as a global leader in events, media, and fashion the need for restructuring and prioritizing services also took place. After years of witnessing the models from their Model Incubator go on to do some amazing things in fashion, (DE-FI) Models was born in December 2021 and on March 26th, 2022 we signed our first models. In continuing the inclusive spirit of the Dayton Emerging Fashion Incubator, (DE-FI) Models celebrates beauty in all forms and is open to everyone regardless of age, race, ethnicity, religion, ability, sexuality, gender identification, height, weight, and size.
What sets (DE-FI) Models apart from other modeling agencies in Ohio is the fact that we are a boutique agency this is significant for new and aspiring models because nearly every agency in Ohio accepts every model that submits or attends an open call in order to collect "legitimate" fees to cover their overhead expenses. This is an unfair and unethical practice because these agencies prey on the dreams of their models by only signing them, not because they believe in their potential to become a model but to collect a legitimate fee such as a website fee in order to line their pockets and pay their bills. Website fees are paid by the model to be featured on the agencies site, this is the only fee an agency should be charging you. Models signed to these "Cattle call" agencies rarely, if ever get one-on-one time with their agent, which means that these models are not being developed, which also means that these models are not being book or placed into larger markets essentially wasting the models time because they are locked into a contract. In contrast, at our first Open Call, out of the 40+ models who attended, only 14 received callbacks, and 7 were signed. Our goal is not to collect legitimate fees, our goal is to provided legitimate opportunities, fully develop our models, and ensure that we are accessible to them in this "here today, gone today" industry.
Looking to learn the INs and Outs of the Modeling Industry? We've got you covered! Don't pay for classes or workshops that you don't need, check out these FREE Tips on modeling right here!
The fashion industry is one of the largest abusers of human trafficking with an estimated 170 million children that are engaged in child labor, making textiles, and garments to meet the consumer demands in the U.S. and abroad. Sadly, models also fall prey to human and sex trafficking.
So you wanna be a model? At the time we do not hold open calls and we kindly ask you submit your application her. No professional images are needed
(DE-FI) Models is NOT a modeling school we are a newly formed boutique agency inspired by the work of our sister company's former Model Incubator. We celebrate beauty in all forms and provide opportunities for aspiring models regardless of age, height, weight, size, gender identification, religion, ethnicity, or sexuality.
Like our sister companies, the vision of (DE-FI) Models Agency is to operate in an open, honest, and transparent manner. We will not hesitate to reveal the truth about the highly competitive and not so glamorous aspects of what it takes to pursue a modeling career on a part-time or full-time basis. We will help you to lay the foundation and provide the needed support system that will help you and your family decide if this is the right path for you.
Using the same mentoring models of the former (DE-FI) Model Incubator which led to the launching of careers of over one thousand models with over 100 of whom going on to sign with agencies worldwide including Factor, Red, and Next. They have appeared on Project Runway and in the pages of Vogue. They have walked for New York, Paris, and Milan Fashion Weeks for designers like Marc Jacobs, Miu Miu, and Versace and have appeared in commercial ad campaigns for Michael Kors, Old Navy, Kohl’s, Ashley Stewart, etc.
(DE-FI) Model Alum have appeared in prime-time television for shows such as Empire and feature films on the Hallmark channel. Outside of modeling several of our models have gone on to pursue professional degrees in fashion, as well as acting from some of the most prestigious programs in the country. The most notable success stories from the (DE-FI) Model Incubator include Aube Linda Jolicoeur, Alexis Henry, Keilah Jude, and Naomi Baker just to name a few.
There's no catch with us truth is, you may not even need (DE-FI) Models Agency! We've provided FREE Modeling Tips that can get you well on your way to starting your modeling career.
However, we strongly encourage you to read and re-read this page in its entirety and make sure that you have a full understanding of the level of work, commitment, communication, discipline and sacrifice that this industry requires along with having a solid support system in place to help you grow into your career.
Rejection is tough and rejection happens daily in this industry 99% of the time. Having support is essential even when the jobs start rolling in. Please see Modeling 101 below for additional tips!
So You Wanna Be A Model?
So You Wanna Be A Model Huh?? Are You ready to put in work? Are you ready for rejection? Do you have more than just a pretty face and killer walk? Are you business minded and not just looking to be social media famous?
(DE-FI) Models is committed to protecting the safety, personal information, images, and well-being of our models and those wanting to become a model. We pride ourselves on our professionalism, transparency, and authenticity and believe it is important to advise models of the legitimate dangers that lurk within the fashion industry. Please be careful when dealing with individuals who contact you online through social media or via email. Please be aware that there are individuals who will prey on your modeling ambitions by impersonating agents or other modeling organizations and contact you directly, please take the necessary precautions including:
1.) Always independently verify the identity of any individual claiming to be a representative of an agency or organization.
2.) Legitimate modeling agencies may contact you through a social media application or through email…PAY ATTENTION TO THE EMAIL ADDRESS AND SOCIAL MEDIA HANDLES. For example, legit agencies WILL NOT contact you from a gmail, msn, aol and etc. account. When in doubt go to the agency’s website to confirm their email address AND Social Media Handles to know if it is a legitimate interaction.
3.) Legitimate agencies NEVER request photos in the nude or lingerie MOST legitimate agencies and organizations DO NOT conduct interviews using Facetime, Skype, and etc.
4) When using apps to book a job, DO YOUR RESEARCH! Model apps are awesome for freelance models and in some cases you pay less in commission than you would if you were signed with a legit agency. #ReadingIsFundamental
The Golden Rule of Modeling: Never pay an agency to represent you and sure as hell don't pay an organization to be in their show or represent a brand, and no, you don't need to buy a book! If they are asking for an upfront fee to cover their production cost or must pay for unsold tickets…RUN!!!!
It’s that simple, it is NOT the models responsibility to make sure that their show goes on and that their expenses are covered. Legit fashion weeks/organization (regional, national, or internationally known) never charge models to participate in their events. #Period
It does not cost money to sign with a legitimate agency. Legit agencies are paid commission, meaning you MUST be paid for work that you do before they EVER are paid a dime. While agency laws vary from state to state most legal limits are 20% meaning if your agency books you on a job and you are paid $500 your agency receives $100. In smaller markets like Dayton, you may be required to pay for your own portfolio, but we’ll touch on that in a few more tips. #WeSaidWhatWeSaid
"You should start with modeling school!" Said no legit agent ever! Modeling School are a waste of time and money. No respectable or legitimate agency HAS EVER recommended a modeling school for aspiring models. Do not be talked into taking the classes to get images for your portfolio either because the images that you receive from a modeling school will NOT be useful for legitimate agencies, you will be told to throw them away and start a new portfolio designed around your newly rebranded image. Besides, almost every Modeling School in Ohio and parts of Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin have reached out to (DE-FI) to see if we'd be willing to work with their models. In short... #JustSayNoToModelingSchools
Model Conventions can be legit AND COSTLY! Truth be told, legit agencies do participate in Modeling Conventions. The key is DOING YOUR RESEARCH DO NOT MORTGAGE YOUR HOME TO ATTEND ONE OF THESE CONVENTIONS they can cost anywhere from $500 to $10,000. Yes, these conventions can be fun, however, out of the sometimes week long conventions, only one day is really needed and that’s the day that you meet the agents. If it cost more than $500 it’s not worth it, create a budget, find out how much it would cost you to travel to Chicago, New York City, or Los Angeles and visit the same agencies in person for their FREE Open calls. Which during COVID-19 most agencies are only accepting online submissions at the time.
Keeping in mind that if you did NOT receive a callback after you’ve tried Tip # 4 and #5 free of charge, you need to become more realistic about your future in the industry. If that’s not enough, DO YOUR RESEARCH, how many models can you find that were “Discovered” at a modeling convention? Last but not least, Do NOT Go out and spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on photos for your portfolio IF YOU ARE NOT ALREADY SIGNED TO AN AGENCY!! Aspiring models do NOT need to have professional images to be considered by LEGIT Agencies!!
Things to remember when taking images for agency submission:
1. Keep it simple use your cellphone camera
2. Do NOT wear Makeup
3. Have your hair pulled back
4. Do NOT wear prints or logos on your clothing
5. Visit the agencies website for specific details on what kinds of images are required for submission.
Legit agencies have a clear set of directions on their website of image submission criteria. AGAIN Images DO NOT need to be professional, this image of (DE-FI) Model Alum and 2017 Cover Model for (DE-FI)ance Magazine Sarah was taken via cellphone by (DE-FI) Owner/Director Caressa L. Brown! Most agencies only request 3-4 images. (1) head shot, (1) full body shot, (1) 3/4 profile image, and (1) shoulder up forward image.
(DE-FI) Model Alum Sarah shows us how to take the perfect head shot. Please note you should never wear makeup and your hair should always be pulled back and preferably in a ponytail. (Image taken with a cellphone)
Your shoulders should be turn slightly for this image which is not depicted here, however, the general idea is to get an angled side view of your face. (Note: Many agencies may request a 3/4 Profile image which is taken from the waist up. (Image taken with a cellphone)
After you've submitted your images to the agency, if they are interested, they will contact you to get additional information. They WILL more than likely request this next group of images to be taken in a (2) piece swimsuit. Where you will be given specific details of how to take your measurements along with taking a picture of your measurements.
You will NEVER be asked by a legit agency to take these images in lingerie or naked! This information is request to confirm that the measurements that you sent on your application are correct and that your images are current.
All legit agencies will correspond with you via the official email address for example JaneDoe@fordmodels.com or JohnSmith@imgmodels.com. They will not send you an email from a gmail.com or aol.com address. When in doubt go to their website get the phone number and call for confirmation.
Once you've snapped those agency submission images with your cell phone camera. Now you have to decide what is the best market for you!
Female at least 5'7 and Males at least 5'9 look for agencies in the Miami, Florida market.
Female's at least 5'8 and Male's at least 6'0 look for agencies Dallas, TX or Los Angeles, CA.
Female's at least 5'9 and Male's 5'11 look for agencies Chicago, IL
Female's at least 5'10 and Male's at least 5'11 look for agencies in New York, NY.
Other FAQ, if you are at least 16years old and under 5'7 odds are you will not be signed to a modeling agency however...you very well could become the next Kate Moss who. But if you can't cut it as a model, acting may be your true calling and to be completely honest with you, in Ohio, odds are you will get more acting jobs than modeling jobs.
It is important that you do your research first and DO NOT be afraid to ask questions. Most of the agencies in these markets do represent children again you MUST do your research because some agencies will require that the child live within 40 miles of the agency to be represented.
So, You've Followed the First 2 Rules and You're Still Not Signed...Now What? You Have Two Options:
1) Resubmit your images to the agencies in the major markets every 6 months.
2) Find a local Mother Agency in smaller markets...like (cough cough) (DE-FI) Models Agency. What's a Mother Agency you ask? A mother agent or agency is usually the first modeling agency you begin working with when you start your modeling career. A mother agent can also be a scout that discovered you and helped you get your start (Hint hint...that's what we do!)
Again doing your research is important, many states, Ohio included have very lax laws surrounding the fashion and entertainment industries which put aspiring talent at risk.
This is a "Here Today, Gone Today" industry! Don't let signing a bad contract ruin your dreams!!!
We cannot tell you the number of horror stories we have heard from models that we have worked and are signed with agencies in smaller markets. Anywhere from Mother Agencies blocking models from being signed with larger more reputable agencies due to the overly eager model OR their parents not understanding the exclusive contract that they signed with the smaller agency.
To models scrapping their very last dime together to purchase one- way plane tickets to fly across the country to meet with a booking agent JUST to find out that their Mother agent did not properly arrange a meeting. To models agreeing to pay a Mother agent for 10 years after their contract is over for any paying modeling job that they may receive after leaving said agency even though they didn't book them on that job.
It is important to ask as many questions as you can before signing your name to a contract. Legitimate agencies will not be offended by your questions, if an agency gets angry or pressures you into signing anything walk away and DON'T look back because odds are you are about to scammed!!
Unless you are an established model and well known in the larger markets, odds are all of your old images will be useless for your new agency they will require you to start a new portfolio because they will re-brand you, give you a makeover, and promote you as a "Fresh Face".
Your agency will recommend photographers for you. Depending on the agency and/or market the agency MAY pay up front for your pics BUT please understand once you begin receiving paid work, you MUST reimburse your agency for the images and those monies will be taken out of your pay check on top of the commission. Agencies in smaller markets like Ohio MAY require the model to pay for their images because there is not enough paid work in that market.
In short, before you cough up hundreds or thousands of dollars for a photographer, ESPECIALLY if you decide to NOT use the photographers recommend by your agency...Ask your selected photographer for their portfolio, schedule a meeting with your agency and the photographer to make sure everyone is on the same page. There is nothing worse than spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a portfolio and having your agency throw it away because the images are not useful.
We have an entire list of models, photographers, designers, stylists, etc. that we refuse to ever work with again due to lack of professionalism, not being dependable, having poor attitudes, and not being coachable, just to name a few.
As frivolous and vain as this industry may seem, the beautiful picture and 30 second strut on the catwalk is just the surface. This is a $900 Billion a year industry and business minded models are successful models!
Rules to live by:
1) Be on time, if you're going to be late even if it's just a few minutes, be courteous and call. If you are not going to make it notify the correct person and follow the communication process that has been implemented.
2) Listen, make sure you are truly understanding what is being said. We all know that what is being said vs what is heard can often be two different things. So before you storm off in anger or disappointment, ask clarifying questions to make sure you are on the same page.
3) Go where you are told to go, if you are supposed to be at an Open call or Go-See at 11a, don't go site seeing or go hanging with your friends. You'll never book a job by skipping out on opportunities that someone has arranged for you.
4) Watch the company that you keep! Not everyone is going to be your friend even if they are smiling in your face and call you friend. Some people will attach themselves to you to try and gain access to opportunities that they may not have otherwise had and others are there simply to distract you from pursuing your dreams or to keep you in a place where they are comfortable seeing you.
Know The Difference
Do you Know the Difference Between an Open Call and a Casting Call?
Open Calls (sometimes referred to as Go-Sees, are simply interviews and mini-meetings between you and the potential client or agency for them to see if and how you may qualify for the opening they need filled. They usually take place during a specific time that the agency/organization sets aside (generally once a week) to see new talent, who are permitted to just walk in without an appointment or prior comp card submission. This is most common for the fashion agencies/organizations in larger markets like New York, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles.
Much like with a resume, they look over your portfolio and comp card to get an overview of your previous experience and abilities. (PLEASE NOTE: Professional Images are NOT required for legitimate agency Open Calls. Please visit the agencies/organizations website for details on what is required) After a few questions they may take head shots or a few photos for their reference. If they are interested in getting to know you better or signing you, you will get a call back.
Casting Calls are a pre-production process for selecting a certain model for either a print or runway experience. Think of this as a series of auditions held in order to find a suitable candidate.
Exposure! Exposure! Exposure!
Join us for this...", it's a great way to get exposure? Join us for that..."you'll get exposure!" Question...exposure to what and better yet who? If the only benefit of participating in a "fashion event" is exposure...you need to ask them:
1) Exposure to who?
2) Are you linked to a legit agency or reputable Public Relations company?
3) Will you have industry guest that will be in the audience specifically to scout?4) Will this opportunity help lead to paid work?
In short, if their version of "exposure" is not career advancing don't waste your time you need exposure to the right people. The window for opportunity is so small in this industry please be smart about how you use your time pursuing it.
Agencies want to give the perception of fresh faces, if you have your images plastered along fashion organizations websites and social media pages from coast to coast agencies may not view this as favorable! Believe us, we've been asked by top agencies not to use some of our Model Alums names in Hashtags using old images of them simply because the images that we have of them do not match their re-branded image and narrative of being a freshly discovered model.
This is how the industry works, it's an industry of newness, don't blow your chance by being over exposed, learning bad habits, or working with inexperienced talent that makes you look bad i.e. poor lighting, bad focus, bad makeup, bad hair, bad posing...before being signed. Point: Be selective with choosing your opportunities, opportunities should be mutually beneficial, don't be afraid to ask what the benefits of participation are.
What the Heck Does that Mean?
Regional Mother Agencies can be a great way to get your start as a model. However, we are very leery of regional agencies that sign every model that walk through their door.
Questions you should consider:
1) How are they serving and nurturing all of these models?
2) How many of these models are actually getting paid work?
3) Are they signing all of these models in order to collect legit fees like website fees in order to cover their overhead cost?
If so, how is this fair to models who have put their trust in you to advance their careers and all you see in them is a way to make ends meet for your business. Leaving promising careers in limbo, again this is a here today, gone today industry, working with the right agency and management group is imperative.
The fashion industry is one of the largest abusers of human trafficking with an estimated 170 million children that are engaged in child labor, making textiles, and garments to meet the consumer demands in the U.S. and abroad. Sadly, models also fall prey to human and sex trafficking.
At its core, human trafficking involves recruiting, moving or harboring a person, either by use of force, deception or coercion for the purpose of exploitation and financial gain. One common myth is that human trafficking victims are always taken by force. While this may be true for some cases, in reality, traffickers use methods of deception and manipulation to attract unassuming victims. The process includes grooming which typically starts with establishing a friendship or relationship. Trust is gained and false promises are made, before exploitation happens. The grooming process sounds an awful lot like the development process for modeling agencies, doesn't it?
Another method used in human trafficking is debt bondage, a controlled way to keep people trapped in a trafficking situation for extended periods of time. People are forced to work to repay a real or perceived debt with ridiculous interest rates or fees that continues to grow with no hope of being free of it that is typical incurred through their travel or employment. Some agencies will cover a models travel and even put them in a model apartment that the model must eventually pay back, all of which is legit...however, a trafficker knows this and an unprepared model with no support system can easily be taken advantage of and fall prey to human trafficking.
We are constantly being bombarded by glamorous images the flaunting expensive lifestyles only enhance feelings of isolation for those experiencing poverty and create the desire for a better life which is where the traffickers find some of their victims. Traffickers know people who live in impoverished conditions will accept offers of work, seeing it as an opportunity to improve their own lives and support their families. Vulnerable young people fall into human trafficking when the promise of a successful modelling careers proves too tempting to resist worldwide.
(DE-FI) Models Agency strongly believes that if we educate our talent, it empowers them and gives them a voice. Education, knowledge, support, and accountability are power and the core of our business. We teach our models the dos and don'ts of the industry that many new models aren't aware of as well as the important skills to master, and pitfalls to avoid.
We will continue to host optional Model Talk Series, however, the Model Talk Series on Human Trafficking and Sexual Harassment will be required for all models signed to (DE-FI) Models. Prevention, Rights, and Responsibilities must be understood. We will also continue to work with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Human Trafficking Taskforce liaisons who have previously trained our models on recognizing, understanding, and reporting suspected Human Trafficking.
As a direct result of this training and based on the recommendations of the Sheriffs Tonya Folks, we have set up additional in-house safe guards as well as a phone number for anonymous reporting of questionable practices within the Fashion Community in the State of Ohio. You can safely and privately report, or request assistance with, work related problems, instances of harassment, abuse, or any such sort of unwanted or inappropriate conduct complete this form below.
We offer (6) Professional Development Model Talk Series workshops that will cover an array of subjects.
Models will learn:
1) Safety Tips: the dangers and realness of Human Trafficking led by the Montgomery County Human Trafficking Taskforce.
2) Recognizing, combating and overcoming Sexual Harassment: led by a State of Ohio Civil Rights Investigator Recognizing Red Flags from predators and predatory practices that prey on models aspirations ***You can safely and anonymously report any unwanted or inappropriate conduct related to your modeling experience***.
3) Foundation Building: learning, developing, and growing self-worth health and wellness.
4) Developing and recognizing the need of a healthy and strong support system.
5) Understanding Contracts, Releases, and Agreements: State law reviews, negotiating terms and conditions for work.
6) Posing and Runway: understanding lighting, posing, and runway(it's not about you, it's about the product).
7) Catwalk: Developing your signature walk, submissions, agency selections, and castings call best practices.
As a result of these trainings models have shared disturbing reports of inappropriate conduct during photoshoots and runway events and even agency related issues. Sadly, the State of Ohio has no comprehensive laws dedicated to protecting models or any other entertainment talent which leaves many at risk and no recourse and leaves the doors open to no accountability or repercussions for the predator.
The closest laws that models and other entertainment based talent can fall back on is related to Independent Contractors. This is NOT sufficient enough and we MUST change the laws. Sexual harassment, abuse, and assault are NOT a part of the process, it’s against the law and will NOT be tolerated! No model should feel pressured to participate in situations that they are uncomfortable with doing.
Through the anonymous reporting we will work to assist models with inappropriate conduct, agency issues, and other work related problems related to the fashion industry in Ohio including:
a) Vague accounting practices
b) One-sided agreements
c) Payment delays
d) Non-responsive representation
Information gathered will also help us have a better understanding of just how vast the problems within the regional fashion industry are as we begin the next steps in working with our legislators in developing and introducing proposals for legislation to protect models and other entertainment talent in Ohio.
We cannot provide legal advice, however, if your issues require the assistance of an attorney please visit www.lawolaw.org.
To report suspect Human Trafficking and you are in Montgomery County, please contact the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Human Trafficking Taskforce Directly at 937-225-4357 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
If you are outside of Montgomery County you can call the National Human Trafficking Resources Center at 1-888-373-7888.
Additional resources include:
The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Human Trafficking Taskforce: https://www.mcohiosheriff.org/support_services/crime_reporting_and_tips/support_human_trafficking_hotline.php
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission https://www.eeoc.gov/
The Ohio Civil Rights Commission https://www.crc.ohio.gov
The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio https://www.acluohio.org
We love our customers, so feel free to visit during normal business hours.
Dayton, Ohio, United States
Funding photoshoots, shows, professional development, purchasing supplies, etc. These are some of the major financial barriers that those seeking a career in fashion face. The fashion industry is one of the most expensive industries to launch a career. Your support helps ensure that our talent can achieve their goals.
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On Saturday, April 29th, 2023 (DE-FI) Global INC will produce the Inaugural Dayton Woman's Club Fashion Show featuring Clothes That Work and benefiting The Artemis Center for Domestic Violence.