‘No matter who you are, what you did or where you’ve come from, you can always change, become a better version of yourself.’ – Madonna
For me, the desire to become a better version of myself came after years suffering a multitude of abuse from a multitude of people, my mother included, since age eight. Then there was constantly being told by Mum I was fat, ugly & worthless, that I'd amount to nothing. I knew if I wanted a life, let alone a good life, I was going to have to create it for myself. So I left school & home at 15 armed with two years high school education, the clothes on my back & $20 in my pocket.
I quickly learned the hard way that creating a life you’re proud to live is easier said than done, though, because you only know what you know. So you can imagine the tricks I pulled to survive the next couple of years just to feed & clothe myself.
For my 17th birthday, gifted an envelope that contained a modelling & confidence course voucher rather than the cash I wanted, & not allowed clothes until I attended, I begrudgingly went on the course.
While it was valuable to learn how to put on make up, work my walk, smile on demand and pose for my best angles, I learnt something more invaluable: that we each hold the power to create & project any image we want, any time we want, despite what’s going down on the inside. The trick was in knowing how.
Transpired that envelope ended up holding a golden ticket opportunity that changed my paradigm. I scored the best birthday present ever: my first modeling job. Paid $5k to dance around in my undies fake laughing for 12 hours, never had I felt worth so much. Overnight, my mentality went from that of merely surviving to the foreign stratosphere of thriving. And if the day before was anything to go by, thriving was definitely more me.
I'd stumbled into a plethora of opportunity if only I had the courage & confidence to grab & use those opportunities. Problem was I severaly lacked confidence. Working on the 'Fake it 'til you make it' saying, I quickly learned feeling confident begins with looking confident. First up, I needed clothes that would make me look like I effortlessly fitted into the industry, then I went about building my confidence by weaving my way throughout the industry. I headed the fashion divisions of Clyne & 62 Models until my biggest professional endeavor: co-founding Red11 Models. Having launched, built & managed thousands of young people & their careers, my hard work & passion are evident in the sleuth of success stories of models I've mentored & developed both locally & internationally, including building a top 10 new face in the world in under a year modeling in Holly Rose Emery.
While we all have stories, what about them & their stories? Who helps give precious confidence-building life skills to youth who carry their entire life in a sports bag like I used to? Or the kids who suffer/ed physical, mental & emotional abuse and/or have constantly been uprooted from school to school like I was? How are they expected to thrive when their life is spent struggling just to survive? Where do they go to get sound advice from someone they respect and who knows what it feels like to walk in their shoes? How do they get access to people like me if they don't fit modelling criteria? Wanting answers to these burning questions and to do something about the sollutions, I cut my losses & walked away from the comfort & security of Red11 to figure it out. Inspired by surviving my own harrowing childhood, 30 years' experience at the forefront of the fashion industry & an overwhelming desire to help all youth, especially disadvantaged youth in care who want to help themselves if they had access to people who could help them, I created The Bridge The Gap Project: From Surviving To Thriving.