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  • Writer's pictureAmanda Betts

Every baby step we take toward the path of success counts

Updated: Jan 9, 2022

“There’s nobody as brave as a baby taking his/her first non-stop 5 steps alone from Mummy's hand.... trust me on that” ― Sameh Elsayed

I used to represent and manage Juliette Perkins until I left Red11 in December 2013. While I looked after her though, it was my job to teach her catwalk, deportment, posing as well as build and develop her. But how did we both ended up modelling in brown togs and heels?

Before I explain, this story is about more than modelling in togs and heels. It's also about why being a feisty teen (me) has its advantages when you learn the right time to dig in your heels and not quit, and as a result, can create amazing opportunities. You just need to know when to dig it in and when to let it go. And know that every baby step we take toward the path of success counts.

“You won’t make it as a model. But your grandmother’s bought you this modeling course. So let’s see if we can at least improve your deportment,” she said to me, deadpan. Doreen, one of the doyenne’s of '80's modeling, waited for my reaction. Thank goodness she couldn't hear my heart sink to the pit of my stomach.

“Your ears stick out...and your shoulder drops when you walk...”

What Doreen Morrison didn’t know, God rest her soul, was she’d just encountered a very determined, tough and damaged girl with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Almost 17, I was full of attitude and bravado. I didn’t care for much, especially me. If I didn’t go on this 10xwk course though, Grandma wouldn’t buy me clothes. It was an excellent strategy adopted by her (God rest her sweet soul).

My attempts to catwalk were cartoonish in a 'newborn baby giraffe skidding on roller skates kind of way. Grandma called in a favor from ANGELA DUNN, one of the queens of catwalk. In a time of RACHEL HUNTER’s burgeoning career as the Trumpet girl, Angela cut through the blondes and brunettes with her spectacular fiery mane of hair and porcelain skin.

I got a call from Doreen. “You have an audition for a fashion show! It’s Adrienne Winkelmann... You also have an audition for Fayreform with Max. Congratulations!” I got both jobs. The show, I was the (terrified) bride:

And the TVC and print campaign for Fayreform by Bendon was fun:

It was all I needed. Off I sauntered in to the world. Not long after, I left Doreen to join MAYSIE BESTALL COHEN, a woman who believed in me. For years, I walked almost every catwalk show there was, including the exclusive Benson & Hedges Fashion Design Awards. Strangely, those shows ended up being called the Smokefree Awards, run by DAME PIETER STEWART, the doyenne who went on to start NEW ZEALAND FASHION WEEK.

There were a tonne of togs and heels. So ‘80’s. Being an opportunist, I decided to give The Miss Powerboat competition a go. I ended up being ‘Miss Zodiac Inflatables’ where I was carted down Queen Street in a massive Zodiac Inflatable wearing nothing but a dangerously high-cut tiger swimsuit, stillettos and a can of concrete hair spray in my hair.

So what’s this all got to do with JULIETTE? In 2013, I was sitting at my desk at Red11 when STORM TUIVA (a model I looked after from Nelson) sent me some pics he’d taken of JULIETTE.

I knew JULIETTE was a supermodel in the making, even though I'd never met her. Long story short, I arranged to meet JULIETTE and her mum, an ex model herself, in Wellington a couple of weeks later so I could suss out and arrange a shoot for Juliette.

I spent the weekend doing a crash-course in modeling posing techniques and catwalking with her before she returned to Nelson. I took her first digis shown here on Fashion Spot.

I arranged her first shoot with photographer SARAH BURTON and the amazing BEX@WILLIS YORK. I also styled the shoot – just simple. I chose NOM*d, ZAMBESI & KATE SYLVESTER.

With such long limbs, I popped JULIETTE in to a cute brown KATE SYLVESTER swimsuit and heels.

It was my job to promote JULIETTE, so within a week, I arranged her pics and a story about her turn up here: FROCKWRITER then went on to arrange shoots in Auckland with KAREN INDERBITZEN-WALLER and Nom*d, and I arranged her GLASSONS shoot. I was with Juliette when I scouted the beautiful HELENA CRAWFORD.

After over 8 years co-founding/building the biggest baby ever (for me) in Red11, one baby step at a time, I left Red11, no longer representing any of Red11's models or people.

You can only imagine my huge sense of pride watching so many of my 'old-young babies' strutting it for NZFW this year. JULIETTE picked up 15 shows for Winter ’15 NZFW.

Perhaps one of my favorite pics is this one taken by my friend front row at KATE SYLVESTER:

THE MORAL OF THE STORY? MOST THINGS THAT ARE GOOD FOR YOU ARE OFTEN NOT INITIALLY FUN. When you first rode a bike, was it fun? Ah-ah. When you first went swimming? Terrirfying. You had to swallow your fears while you drowned in doubt. GREAT REWARDS COME FROM COMBATTING YOUR FEARS. It's tough while you’re going through it and you may be like me and want to curl up in a foetal ball and rock yourself away from the suffering. But once you suck it up and just do it, you’ll end up the biggest winner. MODELS THESE DAYS...DON’T KNOW HOW EASY THEY GOT IT. Check out our RACH in a pink and leather trimmed swimsuit. She was amazing (it made my eyes blees! clip#1 3’18” in). And if you still have your eyes peeled, then watch the fabulous dancing and choreography required for the Benson & Hedges. No wonder it took us 3 weeks full-on choreography. BE INSPIRED BY ALL BABIES. As babies, whether we’re humans or animals, in taking our first steps, we tried, fell, failed, got up, tried, fell, failed...Now repeat as many times as it takes to get it. Be kind to yourself, just like you would a baby. Because once they/we master how to walk, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. TAKE FROM IT WHAT YOU WANT If this doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, then I’ve gone too soft in my old age. Ain’t no mountain high enough in his first steps: FROSTY THE SNOWGOAT

Thanks for joining me! If you pick up any info here which could be useful to someone, share it.

Until next time,

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