Chantelle Fraser’s life is anything but average. Her free spirit and business savvy have taken her from studying at the London School of Economics, to serving celebrities at private members’ clubs, to jet setting around the globe with high fashion models in tow.
As the CEO and founder of Flawless Entertainment & Promotions, Fraser gives major brands and influential individuals access to the power of beauty and entertainment to take their events to the next level. I caught up with the UK-born entrepreneur to discuss her organic journey to success.
Flawless was born when Fraser realized the models at the agencies she worked for needed help making ends meet between jobs. The company has since expanded to represent musical and specialty talent. As her business continues to grow, it’s amazing to think that it all started with a young woman making cold calls from her bedroom.
We started our conversation at the beginning of her professional life. After running an IT recruitment business while studying for her master’s degree, Chantelle set her sights on the entertainment industry.
Madame Noire (MN): When did you move to the US?
Chantelle Fraser (CF): The way I got to the States is an interesting story. After I finished my master’s, I started working at a private members’ club as a waitress part-time. I was working for Ronnie Wood [of the Rolling Stones]. It was great networking with lots of celebrities and interesting people. I met somebody who turned out to own a retail empire in England who went to the London School of Economics. He said to me, “Give me your resume. I’ve got contacts in the entertainment industry; I’ll try to help you.” It turned out he was moving to the States to conduct some business. He gave me a job as his personal assistant in the States.
MN: What were you doing before you started Flawless?
CF: After that [assistant] job ended, I got a job working at a modeling agency. I always knew I wanted to start my own business, but I thought the way to do it was to start small. I could have taken the corporate route, but realistically I’m not going to go work in a bank. So, I thought what kind of business am I realistically going to be able to run myself. I worked at agencies for about three years before launching my company [in 2006].
MN: What was the catalyst that made you start your business when you did?
CF: I initially thought I was going to end up owning just a regular, high fashion agency. But, I kept getting these calls from clients who wanted to book models for promotions and events. I always had to turn those jobs down because we were managing these models’ careers. In those days it wasn’t seen as good for their careers to be doing events. We’re turning these really well paying jobs down, but I’d listen to models and they’d be struggling so much because they’d be doing all these editorials that weren’t really paying a living wage. I’d see them out when I go to restaurants and they’d be hosting and waitressing.
I thought why don’t I just start a business where clients get to fulfill their needs: they have beautiful people at their events, promoting their product, making them look good, and elevating their brand image. And also I’m providing the models with extra income and a means to showcase their other skills, other than just standing there pouting for the camera.
MN: You’ve talked about the needs Flawless meets for clients and models, what need does it fill for you?
CF: I always wanted to be the architect of my own destiny. I’m a free spirit. I always believe in being unreasonable. I wanted to do something dynamic. Flawless was a way for me to live my dream. It was the perfect type of company that encompasses all the things that I love… meeting people, inspiring other people, managing people. I love casting models, making people happy, and growing something. It’s really fun to actually grow a business from a seed to making your visions come to life.
MN: Tell me about that first year operating out of your bedroom. What mistakes did you make and how did you learn from them?
CF: I was living in the moment. When I look back on it I think, “Oh my God, that’s so crazy!” The first month I started my business I didn’t have money to pay the rent. I had a roommate, it was a rent-controlled apartment, and I was like, “Damn, have I made a mistake?” But, for some reason I just didn’t have fear.
I was calling major brands – Playboy, Estee Lauder, high-net-worth individuals – telling them about my company. I didn’t have a website. I didn’t have anything. All I had was my voice, my charm, and my models, which I think were always of a very high standard. I was able to get business, and clients kept referring me to other clients. Eventually I grew myself out of my bedroom and into an office. One summer’s day, sitting there, I was lonely and said, “I think I’m going to get an office.” I think it was in the first six months I had an office in SoHo with a steady stream of clients and a couple of employees.