All Articles Tagged "agency"
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.
I learned a very important lesson when I was a senior in high school. A lesson about inner strength, friendships, and power. Come with me, if you will, to my past:
About a month before prom, after school a girlfrienemy… we’ll call her Melissa, and I were talking. We were both in marching band together. (Yes, I was a band nerd, and a fierce self-taught clarinet player. Not to toot my own horn, but… “toot toot.”) Well, Melissa and I were talking about prom and we got on the topic of undergarments. She told me that she didn’t want panty lines under her dress, but she also had trepidation about wearing a thong. So, I told her: “Why don’t you just go commando?”
Now for those who aren’t familiar with the terminology, “commando,” as popularize by the sitcom Friends is when a person forgoes wearing underwear. She yells: “OH MY GOD! I’M NOT GOING COMMANDO!” I say: “Why not? I did for Winter Ball, and honestly, you can’t even tell the difference.” After we laughed about it, the conversation progressed and there was no more mention of going commando… until I came to school the next day.
When I told Melissa about my commando exploit, she and I were the only two people in the band room. Most people were actually gone from the school, so imagine my surprise when I walk into the band room to put my clarinet in my band locker, and this dolt named Zeke* comes up to me, with three other idiots giggling as he says: “Hey, Commando Kendra.”
Even though I’m dark skinned, I’m pretty sure I turned a bright shade of red, and immediately looked in Melissa’s direction. I told her this situation because I thought she was my friend. If I wanted her brigade of morons to know then I would have told them. She avoided me for the rest of the day, and instead of just confronting her, I decided that it would die down. But every single time I ran into Zeke, which was like four times on average, he would always greet me as “Hey, Commando Kendra!”
The next day, I go to school and I’m SURE this thing has died down. I mean, how much more enjoyment can someone get out of this revelation? Apparently two to three more days worth. But, it started going from harmless teasing to malicious attention seeking behavior. During the times I would run into him, he started calling me “Commando Kendra” even louder in our crowded hallways. Or getting people to come up to me and ask me what does it mean, while he evilly grinned in my direction.
On about the fourth day of this foolishness, I walked into the band room and saw it written on the chalk board. Embarrassed, I ran to the board and quickly erased it. People kept on coming up to me and asking me what it meant. Since Friends was really popular at the time, some people were immediately making the correlation and asking me for confirmation. While I tried to put my clarinet together, holding back tears, Zeke got up, walked to the chalk board and started writing it out again, in the most exaggerated way, saying the letters out loud each time he wrote one. I went to the bathroom to stop myself from crying, and after I calmed down, I walked into the band room, and saw that he was still standing at the board, but he stopped in mid letter, actually WAITING for me to get back so he could finish writing it on the board.
All of a sudden, something just clicked. I just started thinking: “Look at him! He’s getting so much joy out of me being hurt by this.” Then, the feeling of indignation began to set in. “Who does he think he is?! He thinks he’s doing something right now! LOOK AT HIM! WITH THAT STUPID SMUG GRIN ON HIS FACE!!! Oh, okay, I got something for him!”
At that time my band director came out of his office and stood on his podium. I stopped him and asked him if I could make a quick announcement. He allowed me, and I stood on the podium and said to the room filled with about 150-200 students:
“Excuse me, everyone. Well, I know that you’ve all heard the jokes and the teases of Commando Kendra. Someone even wrote it on the chalk board (*points to the chalk board behind me), and many of you have been asking me what it means. Well, I’m going to tell you what it means. I’m called Commando Kendra because sometimes, I don’t like wearing underwear. I didn’t wear underwear to the last two Winter Balls, I don’t plan to wear underwear at the prom, and I’m actually not wearing underwear now (*I honestly can’t remember if that was true or not, but I surely did say it!). So if anyone else wants to know what “Commando Kendra” means, it means that I sometimes don’t wear underwear!”
I hopped off the podium and went to my seat while a loud applause erupted. My band teacher looked horrified, and I could tell that he was putting a mental note in his mind that next time a student asks to make an announcement to find out what it is first.
I’m saying all of this to tell you that sometimes people are going to try to hold things over on you to get the best of you. During those times that you feel helpless, and you can tell that someone is enjoying your pain, remember what Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I’m not saying that to regain your agency you need to put yourself on blast (like I did), but what I’m saying is that there are ways for you to get your power back when it feels like someone has stolen it from you.
With that being said, stay strong and stay encouraged! There are always ways to excel in these situations, and I hope that you find a way that is right for you! I’ll tell you this though; I’d never been called “Commando Kendra” since.
Is Kendra Koger commando right now? You’re not going to know because she’s a mother now, but you can ask her other questions on her twitter @kkoger.
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