HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A Huntsville company is helping bring some of the hottest models in the world to the runway!
Brittney Flanders and Janna Park started Onyx Model Management a few years ago and they've already recruited some of the most in-demand faces in the industry. At their office on Bob Wallace Avenue on Tuesday, they talked about how they got started.
"We are known as a mother agency, which is basically a manager for models. We find local talent and then we place them into bigger markets like New York, LA, Paris, Milan, London," Flanders explained. "She's a photographer and I was kind of just dabbling into modeling but I'm not tall enough. We just became friends and started finding people we liked to take photos of and I would creative direct."
"Then we just started placing girls," Park stated. "We placed them in markets like Atlanta and with other mother agencies that we knew and we thought, why aren't we doing this for a living? We love it so much and we have an eye for it so Onyx was born."
One of the models they recruited was Cara Taylor, a Grissom High School student.
"We found her on Instagram, a volleyball girl from Grissom. It's just been a whirlwind," Flanders said. "She's probably in the top five percentile of top models and it's insane, this girl from Huntsville!"
Through a lot of efforts, including phone calls and trips to New York, Janna and Brittney established close contacts with several of the large modeling agencies in NYC. Onyx sent Cara's digital photographs to all the big agencies and she was offered an immediate contract.
Since then, Cara has become one of the top models in the industry, walking runways in Paris, Milan, London, and New York. She has opened the show for Chanel, Fendi, and Alexander Wang. Models.com has her ranked in the top 50 in the world. This past season, she came in second place for top campaigns according to Models.com. She was just behind Bella Hadid, who came in first place, and was ahead of both Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner.
Cara is only 17 and she has graced the cover of numerous magazines, including Italian Vogue, Vogue China, Self Service, ID, and Sunday Style. She has been the face of Brands like Coach, YSL, Max Mara and Michael Kors, and just finished shooting her second Versace campaign.
"I started out pretty big. My first show was Alexander Wang which was a big one in New York. Later on the same season, I did Prada and they cut my hair into a bob and I kept it ever since," Cara said.
She's traveled the world and embraces every opportunity that comes her way.
"My career has just kind of gone up and it's just been crazy and surreal that everything has happened so fast. I never would have thought in a million years that this would have been my life," Cara added. "But it's crazy to be able to do it this much as a high schooler. It's insane."
Onyx Model Management has recruited a number of models from the Southeast and now, eleven of them have been signed to major agencies.
"Some of them are from Huntsville High School, Grissom High School. We also reach out into Tennessee, to Mississippi, Georgia but most of our models are from Alabama and the local area," Flanders said.
Natassja Tidball, a Huntsville High Graduate, walked the runway for brands like Tory Burch, Christopher Kane, Marni and Vivienne Westwood her first season, along with shooting look-books for Marc Jacobs and W Magazine.
Josie Redmond, a 19 year old from Knoxville ,has also had her career launched by Onyx. She has moved to LA full time and regularly does work for PacSun and Forever 21.
Jaleen Oliver, a young man from Gadsden, has graced the pages of Vogue Mexico and Italian Vogue, and just walked Dolce and Gabbana.
A few months ago, Onyx held a runway show in Huntsville and invited major agencies to come see their newest models. Flanders and Park run their business like a family. They care about their models and it's the personal approach that allows for such great success in the industry.
"Fashion week is coming up and we are going to have even more girls debuting also from the area. So keep your eye out on that if you're into fashion, watch the fashion channel in September," Flanders stated.
The women are proud of their successful company, as the big model agencies continue to come to them for great talent and beauty, including Cara Taylor who has catapulted into the world of high fashion.
"It's amazing feeling like you're helping these girls' dreams come true. It's one of the best feelings in the world," Park said.
"It's been a dream come true. When we place them, we just start jumping up and down and screaming. And we know they're going to have this fantastic journey ahead of them and get to travel and meet these fantastic people and we get to go with them. it's amazing," Flanders added.
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