Former Model Making Sly Business Moves in P.I. field

January 13, 2011  |  

By Mary Worrell

When one thinks about private investigators, images from Hollywood may come to mind of men in trench coats with tiny cameras, slinking through the shadows in an effort to uncover top-secret information. Or the adventurous, Hawaiian island beach life of Magnum P.I. Well, some of that is true, but according to Brianne Joseph of Sly Fox Investigations in Baton Rouge, La., it’s far less glamorous than Hollywood makes it out to be.

“That’s not private investigation. There’s nothing glamorous about surveillance,” Joseph said. “Half the time I look like I just rolled out of my bed. Every day you’re in a van, it’s hot as hell, and you’re sweating in places you didn’t even know you had glands.”

Joseph, a 33 year-old New Orleans native, knows glamour. She maintained a successful modeling career before going into private investigation. Through two agencies in Louisiana, she had the chance to work with celebrities and musicians, including LL Cool J and Mariah Carey.

Hurricane Katrina destroyed all that Joseph and her family had in New Orleans and they had to sleep on an air mattress in the kitchen of a friend of a friend for six months in Lafayette before moving to Baton Rouge and starting over. After recovering from effects of the storm, Joseph made another big jump from modeling to private investigation.

“I graduated from Dillard University with a degree in business and always wanted to own a business, but I was modeling so much that I wanted to open a modeling agency,” Joseph said. “When I was introduced to private investigation through a friend, I realized how much women can have an advantage in that field. I had an awesome little modeling career, but I’ve moved on from it.”

Tenacity to uncover information and a determined work ethic are part of what make a great investigator, Joseph said.

“I’m the queen of plan B. That’s one of the most important characteristics a private investigator should have – the ability to find doors when they don’t seem to be there,” she said. “I’m able to search and research and I’m patient enough to wait for information.”

The field of private investigation is competitive and largely dominated by men, Joseph said. Women make up less than 15 percent of the 60,000 licensed private investigators in the U.S., according to the Journal of Professional Investigators.

Joseph set about learning all she could from veterans in the field, apprenticing under licensed investigators in other states. Companies in Louisiana were aware of Joseph’s desire to open an agency and weren’t keen on teaching tricks of the trade to their future competitor, she said. After five years under her belt working with other agencies, this past July Joseph decided to open her own agency and named it Sly Fox.

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