Melissa Drummond, President/and CEO of Cliché Model Agency, was born in Manchester UK. Of Jamaican descent, this former commercial model is all too familiar with the barriers models of color face when looking for work. She has set out to create opportunities for those who would otherwise be limited. In this MVP Interview, we get chatty with Melissa about what it takes to build a business from the ground up, her challenges as well as her principle for success. Cliché Model Agency is creating opportunities in a quest for equality.
MVP Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Melissa. We are eager to share your journey with MVP readers. Let’s get into some background, shall we? Where did you study? And, what was your course of interest?
MD I studied at the University of Central Lancashire in Journalism and English Literature. I wanted to be a TV Presenter at the time or involved in the TV industry. I did want to do fashion at university but my mum convinced me to do this as she thought ” you cannot get a proper job from fashion” – I should have listened to my own instincts.
MVP What was your first big break into your career choice?
MD I started working at the BBC, then went on to working in radio broadcasting. I had a change of career and went into marketing and retail marketing. What triggered my change of career at that time was the fact that I was not enjoying my job that much and I was not fulfilled in my roles and my abilities. I thought it was going to take me years before I was going to make any progress. I enjoyed the marketing aspect of my job and me being me, took a risk and moved to London.
MVP Where did the career change take you?
MD I worked freelance for a while, then moved back to Manchester after gaining some more experience. I worked in marketing for a few more years then decided to set up on my own. Now I own and manage Cliche Model Agency www.clichemodels.co.uk which specialises in promoting multiple ethnicities.
MVP How did you go from broadcasting to owning your own modelling agency?
MD I used to do some modeling when I was younger and found that there was not many other black models in the industry, or any other race besides white. I saw a gap in the market and started Cliché Models, after complaining for years how the industry was so prejudice and often times racist.
MVP Every person great or not faces challenges. It’s what you’ve learned from the challenge that gives you character equity. What were your early challenges and what was the outcome?
MD It has taken me 2.5 years to get to where I am and many of the challenges I faced pertained to being taken seriously. Also, there was a lot of trial of error involved in getting the right models, photographers and even the look of the website and branding of the agency. Now we have since launched the new website, I am overly thrilled about it as the business is expanding. We will soon be launching bi-monthly model boot camps for new and aspiring models. In addition, we now represent kids and teens.
MVP What other challenges have you encountered being at the helm of a growing people-based business?
MD You must know how to manage multiple personalities with models, creatives as well as clients. You have to adjust accordingly, which hasn’t been easy at times.
MVP What was one of your early lessons that shaped the way you do business today?
MD As a new business a lot of people expect you to do work for little or no money, and at first this was mandatory to get your foot in the door, but now things have changed and now I expect my models to be paid accordingly for the work they do. A lot of people try to take advantage of models and it is my job to make sure they don’t.
MVP There are many readers who are working on business plans and budgets, concepts and designs all in the effort of building a successful business. What would you say are your principles for success and what advice would you give to the up-and-coming?
MD I don’t like to think of myself as successful just yet. I am very grateful for how far I have come, although I still think I have a long way to go. I have sacrificed a lot starting this business including money, a social life and other possessions and hopefully the rewards will start paying off soon. But advice from me would be Work hard and Persist! Don’t stop believing in your dreams because if you don’t nobody else will. But if you don’t sacrifice something it won’t work. I’ve had a lot of late nights and working 6 days a week.
MVP How important is a strong support system and what is the benefit of those relationships as it pertains to your business?
MD I have a few close friends and family who give me 100% support all of the time and that means the world to me. Especially on days when I feel like giving up. It’s not like having the security of having a 9-5 job, you get what you put in and there’s a whole different responsibility when you have to go out and earn your money yourself, but is very satisfying at the same time. I like being my own boss.
MVP Before we close, I’m sure our readers want to know what’s next for Cliché Model Agency?
MD Right now, future plans are to make Cliché Models the best model agency in the UK that specialises in ethnic models.
MVP Thank you Melissa, it’s been a pleasure.