Woods wears top by Solace London; and sunglasses by Le Spec. Photo: Dylan Coulter for The Observer.

So where do successful models actually come from? 

What kind of background makes a great model? How educated are models? What kind of family background do models have? What kind of work did they do – or do they do – before or alongside modelling? Do models drive themselves to make it? Or are they driven?

Inspired by the unusual background of once-homeless emerging model Slick Woods (more further down), we had a little think.

What is a typical model background?

The Supportive Family

“H” has a really supportive family. The family want them to do well, but to be protected at the same time. “H” feels really supported and encouraged. Their parents have attended castings with them since they were 16 years old in Manchester, London and Edinburgh.

The Student 

Kelly Stobbs, Head Booker at TTM tells the story of a typical student model.

“We have a fair few students on our books. Away from home. Here at University in the North East and looking for additional income. And they’re normally doing it off their own back. They balance study, maybe another part time job and their social life. The successful student model makes sacrifices. And they’re driven. The best of them are reliable. They regularly come to castings not knowing if they will get the job or not. I’m forever impressed by this kind of model at TTM. Away from home and taking the step to come into an agency to gain representation. It’s brave.”

The School Leaver

School leavers with an uncertain future come to TTM sometimes, too. “G” has a part time job in retail. They’re unsure where their future lies ultimately. But in the meantime “G” pushes herself to explore modelling. It takes effort and drive. “G” is finding out about the career she may ultimately want. She’s finding herself, too.

The Self Employed 

TTM has a number of self employed people on the books. Often a little older, they can be quite flexible with time. Modelling is a sideline for them. Additional income. A release from the pressure of running their own business. It can be really enjoyable for this kind of model.

The Homeless Person

Slick Woods, our inspiration for this article was discovered by Ash Stymest in LA. Slick is one of fashions most instantly recognised models. She’s driven. She’s opinionated. She’s (in her own words) “Whatever the f**k she wants to be.”

Between 2015 and 2018 she’s been Moschino. She’s been Marc Jacobs. She’s been Fendi. Yet in 2015, at the age of 19, she was homeless. Read Slick Wood’s story here.

Model Backgrounds

Here at TTM we make a point of getting to know our models as much as possible. We see very few patterns with regards to background.

The only real patterns we see are what make a successful model, no matter where they come from.  A great model is committed, driven, consistent and enthused by the work they do and what they can do for the client business.

That’s a Tyne Tees Model.