Saturday, April 30, 2011

Child modeling from a mom's perspective.

Nordstom Holiday 2010
My daughter age 3 1/2 has been modeling since she was 6 months old. Her fist job was a month after we signed with JE Model in San Francisco and was for Pottery Barn. Since then, she has worked for Macy's, Mervyns, Nordstrom, Old Navy, Hannah Andersson, and the latest, Children's Place. It is a very interesting business filled with mystery for those who are interested in having their child be a model. I thought I'd write about things that people seem to be most curious about. I asked on my FB page & got a few responses as well as a few emails. So ... here are my experiences.

How did you get your daughter into modeling? By chance actually. I had a cousin who threatened me if I didn't submit my daughter's pictures to JE Model in SF. She knew someone who knew someone who they represented. I went online & followed the submission guidelines thinking that would be the end of it. They called back the next day & she was signed a week later after meeting my daughter and I.

How do I get my kid into modeling? There are several agencies in the Bay Area. We are with JE Model in San Francisco. There is Models Inc, Stars, and Marla Dell. Maybe others, but these stick out in my mind. Each of them have submission guidelines on their websites. Just follow those carefully. If they like your child's look they'll call you. I can only speak to JE, but they'll request an in person meeting to see the child's personality. Your child has to, in general, be ok with strangers and well behaved.

Do I have to pay the agency? I've kind of addressed this is other areas. but No. They get paid if and when your child gets paid. I met a mom who bought a "modeling kit" for $250 from her agency. She was surprised to see none of the other moms there had this kit ... it had hair products, wipes, and plain white diapers and some other stuff. Not $250 worth for sure.

What is the time commitment? This is a tricky one. All three of my girls are signed with the agency, though only the oldest has ever actually worked. The business in the SF Bay Area has really slowed down as companies have closed (Mervyns) or moved their shooting (Macys, Gymboree, GAP) I can tell you what is involved. You (the parent) have to keep an online portfolio updated. The agency wants to see current pictures. Think of how much a 6 month old baby changes every week! The agency wants good pictures too. So, I spend a lot of time taking, uploading & editing pictures. The agency picks only about 10% of the ones I submit ... so that is a lot of work. You have to keep their work permit updated, which is just mailing in a form once every 6 months. Then there is the actual "work" or work getting work. Most jobs, you have to go to a "go-see" or an audition. You can get a call a week before, or two days before ... something like, your child has been requested for a go see on Tuesday between 10 - 2 in San Francisco. I have been at some that take 5 minutes, other times I have waited for 3 hours. Then, if your child gets the job you find out anywhere from again 1 week to 12 hours before. Literally. The last shoot, the calls were put out at 7 pm the night before, and the location was 1 1/2 hours from my house! On a side note - when you go to anything work related, it is only the child and an adult that can be there, no siblings. Last year we went to 6 go-sees and 3 of them resulted in work. So far this year, we have done 5 go-sees, and one job.

Is all of the work last minute? In my experience, pretty much no more notice than a week out. We actually got a call last year to be in San Francisco ASAP for a shoot. The company had forgotten to call the agency about my daughter shooting that day. It was the middle of the day & I had just put my girls down for a nap. We made it & it went great. But, I was holding my breath the whole time. (I did take my other daughter that day ...)

What is the money like?
It isn't a lot, so far what we have done & I don't know about things like being on a pampers box BUT generally the catalog work pays about $100 - $200/ hr with a 2 hr minimum.  If the picture has more "usage" like a clothing hang tag, the pay is higher ... around $1000.  Your agency takes 20% (and this is the ONLY money they get from you ... if someone wants you to pay them more run the other way.) This is just for the actual shoot. You are not paid for the go-sees, and you have to get to the location which can be anywhere in the Bay Area!

One of the head shots ...
What are the expenses? Aside from gas being $4 - $5 / gal and getting your child to all of the places for work & go-sees, there is a small fee every month for your child's online portfolio. After age 3, they should have professional pictures done. This can be from $200 - $450. Other than that, not much that I can think of, unless you have to miss work and want to count that.

What are the shoots like? There is no typical shoot. One she did we were in and out in 20 minutes, literally. One other time we waited for 3 hours before they shot her. Really you are at work. There are a lot of people involved to make this happen. Sometimes 20 or more. Your child is just one piece of the puzzle. Most are pretty kid friendly in that they are people who know how to work with kids. Sometimes, as kids, they are just not having it. I have seen more than a few meltdowns. Usually for smaller kids they hire a backup child in case #1 is having a bad day. That's another thing, your child could be the backup & though they get paid never get their picture taken. Yeah, you get the money but no picture.

What advise would you give? First, you have to not take it too seriously or personally. Looks are trendy and not every child has the look. It doesn't mean your child isn't beautiful or cute or the best baby ever! Especially with the lack of business in the area I was told the agencies are really picky and maybe they just have too many kids that have your child's look. Also, if you are working and don't have a flexible schedule or someone (like a grandparent) who can take your child places last minute, it is really pointless. Each job represents possibly 2 days you will miss from work. Lastly, not every kid likes it & some LOVE it. My middle daughter runs and screams at the camera. We almost stopped with my oldest when she was 2 1/2. She did not seem to like it at all. The "deciding" shoot, was a great one with a child wrangler who made it like going to a party. My daughter has enjoyed it since then. Also, it is a JOB.

Do you get to keep the clothes? People ask me this all of the time! Nope.

Another from her head shot shoot ... I got to play stylist.  
Any other questions? Post in the comments ... I'll answer. Have other experiences? Post please! I'd love to read about them!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pity Party for One ...

Time for me ... as a mom this can be a rare event. There are days that some of us don't even have privacy in the bathroom! I am not talking about just being alone. I am talking about taking time out of the day to cherish the time alone and do something for myself.

Yesterday was jam packed. Vivienne to school (which is a 40 minute round trip), with a little detour on the way to drop dessert for my craft night dinner I would sadly be missing, home to shower, back to pick Vivienne up, to my dad's house where he was so sweet & had got us lunch and laid it all out! then off to spend the rest of my busy day in SF (doctor, haircut & work). While driving though downtown I had a pity party for one in my car.

I used to live in San Francisco. Alone, in my own apartment, for 7 years. I loved it. I still love San Francisco, but visiting is not the same as living there. I spent about 10 minutes driving & mourning the loss of my kid free life. As I write this I feel really silly. That was three and a half years ago, you think think those feelings would be long buried, but there they were.

I wonder if every mom feels this way at times & if they do, would they ever admit it? You love your kids, of course you do! But, just as when you have any other life change I think it is OK, healthy, or whatever word you want to use to be able to look back and reflect on the wonderful life you had. It would be only natural, I think, to feel a little sad, right? I would love to hear your thoughts on this!

When I was getting my hair done, my pitty party was over. I thought about being in the moment and boy, do I love getting my hair washed at the salon. I thought about how blessed I am NOW. I may not have all of the freedom that I did (as I type this Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is on, Coco is next to me and the baby is on my lap ...) but this life is only getting better. So as I reflect on the past I look forward with excitement and anticipation to the adventures ahead.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Am I crazy to try and blog?? I have read that if you start a blog and want it to be successful, you have to do it every day ... and don't stop after two weeks. You are so excited and then, there they are. The good and the bad, the happy and sad, easier & more challenging days ... and days you want to throw in the towel and run away. Here I am, adding one more commitment to my life - each of my days.

Today, this week really, is going to be a challenge. I have over booked myself, yet again. Some things will get canceled & other put on hold. Unfortunately, the things that usually get canceled are the fun things I am doing! I have to miss my monthly craft night this month. I really had a project I needed to work on. I will miss seeing my friends & having a good time of laughter, food, and crafting. Instead, I have to go to my "paying" job.

I am also putting on hold my work on a gift for my mom. (I don't think she reads this blog so I can mention it!) It is for Mother's Day ... so it technically can wait, but it will take a lot of time so I need to get going. (Pictures after Mother's day!)

When I have days or weeks that end up like this I think back to one of my first yoga classes. I was trying it out and scheduled to go to a class with a friend. I was also really busy with other things, so during the class my mind was racing with all that I had to do. Somewhere between the sun salute & downward dog the instructor said something like: For those of you who are not focusing ... remember, you made time to be here for 90 minutes. Be HERE in this class for 90 minutes, then get on with everything else. You are here now. BINGO! He was talking to me. I remember those words as I am driving Vivienne to class, on BART going to work or sitting and reading a book to the girls. BE PRESENT in what you are doing. Enjoy that time that you have carved out for each activity that are doing. When driving around with your kids: sing to the radio with the kids, play I spy or just look at the scenery. Thinking about the traffic, red lights & all you have to do wont make the drive any faster, it will simply make you frustrated and miserable! Enjoy your 5 minute shower ... it may be quick, but ENJOY it! I have found if I am present, and making the most out of each thing that I do, I feel a real peace inside. I am not frazzled. I may not get everything done on my list, but I am going through the day happy. It takes no more time to enjoy life that to be anxious ... and quite frankly, work gets done better when I am not stressed out!

So, take the time to ENJOY all of the things you have to do. Maybe you can fit in a few more fun things too.

Now - I am off and running!!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Good Things ...

These days we hear so many times about everything that is going wrong. I was a wreck a few weeks ago thinking about what school I will be sending my girls to. The US education system is broken. I watched Waiting for Superman, and The Lottery. I read in my local paper and face book page of challenges in my local school district. They were threatening to close the two high preforming schools that I was hoping to put them in. Politics, gas prices, war ... so many negatives.

Then there are the good things. Spring is here & with it comes amazing fruit and soon vegetables at the local farmers market. My husband is French and as a chef, is amazed that we as Americans are just "getting" the local / in season food trend. Why would you cook with tomatoes in December when they are barely red, and have no flavor? Well, same for strawberries ... look at how RED these babies are. That is flavor through and through. You bite into one & it tastes as though it has been soaking in sugar all day. Nope, just in season fresh yummyness. These were from the Ferry Building farmers market in SF.

Another good thing ... comfy socks! I am SO excited to let you in on a secret, well, not really a secret. I found some socks that are SO comfortable you will think you are walking on the clouds! They are from Do Good Company. Not only do they keep your feet toasty, but they are reflexology socks. So you get a little massage with every step. I was able to get some for my push packs!! I have a limited amount, so they won't be in there forever .. but for the first 150 orders ... you get a little bit of "extra" luxury!! So save the date for June 1 for the esty shop. If you need one sooner ... let me know! $49.95 plus shipping, if they need to be shipped.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Love this show ...

For those of you who don't know, the Magu house has been without cable TV for years. While living in San Francisco, I was able to stick a wire in the back of my TV & get a few channels, you know, ABC, NBC, PBS and one or two others. When the converter box came along, I got a few more. Then we moved to Concord. My little 5 cent piece of wire and converter box were of no use. Nothing. Paul & I (ok just me) were a little sad, but not sad enough to pony up the $75+ a month to watch TV. There was nothing we really cared to pay that much for.

So many of the "family" shows have the same characters - Family: Mom, bitch. Dad, idiot. Kids, know it all and disrespectful. "Funny" on TV, in my opinion, has seemed to become about who looks more incompetent. Then there are the reality shows. Some I loved and other I just watched because of the "are you kidding me?!?!" factor.

But, two years ago, I discovered a then new show on NBC, Parenthood. I discovered I could watch it on the computer the day after it aired (Tuesdays, 10pm). From the first episode I was hooked. If you haven't seen this show, let me just say you are missing out. It is the story of the Braverman family. Three generations all living in the same area (suppose to be Berkeley / Oakland) The acting is great & the writing is superb!! It is a family that LOVES and RESPECTS each other, though, like all families they don't always agree. There are even some real pearls of wisdom in the writing. So, if you haven't seen it yet, but are looking for an uplifting drama check out some of the past episodes & get caught up. You have until September for Season 3.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Just don't think about it

So I got the cleaning bug today. No, it doesn't come very often but today it was there. I was so blessed that my dad took my two older girls for 3 hours & the baby naped. I got a lot done. During that time, I was often distracted & thought about checking email, working on a "fun" project or just passing by a pile of papers that has been sitting on the counter forever. Instead of giving in to my distractions, I used some words of advise from my mother in law via my husband. "Just don't think about it & do it." He told me this is her attitude towards approaching a large basket of laundry to be ironed. (ok - she irons EVERYTHING). You see, I was ironing one night & I was picking through the pile the things I "preferred" to do. It still all had to be done ... so why even bother with that?

So, with this attitude I approached my cleaning. I just cleaned. Top to bottom. Let me tell you the dirt appeared in places I hadn't noticed before (or just got so used to seeing ...) on base boards, windowsills, and doors. If I saw it, I cleaned it. I didn't think about cleaning it, I just did. And you know what? It got done. Faster than it would had I thought about what I "felt" like doing or "preferred" to do.

The next time you pass that pile of paper, just don't think about it, do somthing with it. Then you'll have one less thing to look at that needs to be done. And, honestly, it will probably only take 5 minutes to do.

Monday, April 18, 2011

If any of you are having challenges with your small child I highly recommend the book I Break for Meltdowns. It has saved me on many occasions. It is not a book you read & then pass on. No, this is a book you read, read, place by your night stand to reference, and think about getting a second copy for the car. The strategies have worked for me better than the others such as the idea of giving your child a ton of choices so that when the time comes for mom's choice they are more compliant. That one didn't work. Spanking led to Vivienne fighting with me (literally throwing fists & feet everywhere I was) and time out worked sometimes.

I did a huge order for the contents of my PUSH PACK today. The first big one. it was over the phone & Vivienne was next to me. I explained to her I needed to be on the phone for a while so she needed to play quietly. I think she heard, "I'm going to be on the phone, talk to me, crawl on me and then bother your sister so she screams." After about 3 minutes I excused myself from the phone & told her, "Vivienne, if you don't go play quietly now you will be in BIG trouble when I am done." and for some reason, that worked.

So, PUSH PACK order done ... baby steps to getting this done. I also made one up for a mom, 3 weeks from baby # 5. If anyone needs help packing it is her! I hope she enjoys it!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Seeking help

So many of us are trying to "do it all". We want to be great at everything we do. Unfortunately, even if there was no such thing as sleep, we just couldn't be great at everything. I have been focusing on the PUSH PACK a lot over the last week. Really working at getting it off of the ground. As I type this entry, I think about things that I had to not do because I was working on the PUSH PACK. My house is more messy than normal (3 kids under 4 .... a clutter free clean house is a dream, unless you have a housekeeper.) My kids watched their DVDs more than usual, and laundry is piled high. I had to work my "paying job" last night. On the way home, my husband said I needed to take better care of myself. I can't shake a cold & my shoulder has been aching.

ANYWAY ... the point of this is to say that I am VERY excited! I realized I am not a graphic designer. I have ideas but try as I might, I can't get them onto the paper or more important the packaging of the PUSH PACK. I searched ETSY and found someones work that looks like something I wish I could do. So, I contacted her ... and here we go. This is pushing back my May 1st goal, but it has been 3 years, what is an additional month to have what I really want. An amazing bag that people will love for many reasons.

Here is to not being able to do it all & giving some things up. I don't know it all & can't do it all, and I need help. By admitting that, I am giving myself a sense of peace and a little giddy feeling too.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Obsessing ...

As I lay in bed last night, I was thinking, no, obsessing about the day when I will actually be selling my PUSH PACK. For now, Etsy looks like the marketplace, but I have plans that expand beoynd that. I have ideas for other PUSH PACK versions. I have marketing ideas, promotional ideas, and ideas about ideas. The best part though, is that I have a husband who is supporting all of these dreams & encouraging me to go for it.

I hear so many stories of people who are successful at thier business or craft. They all say a common theme ... I just went for it. So here I go, continuing to work on getting it juts right to start ... and am going for it. Today, kid permitting, I am doing more paperwork (which I hate!) to complete the "background" for launching the Etsy site. I figure this will take most of the week, with the opening of my etsy store in May. Stay tuned ... and tell your friends.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Spring .. time for new things

Well, it has been a while. My youngest wasn't born when I posted my first entry, heck, I was just a few weeks pregnant! Now here she is 7 moths old. I am finally feeling like a normal, rested person again. I think I am ready to tackle the start of my push pack "career". I attended a small business class at SCORE, SF. If any of you haven't heard of it, check it out. Amazing classes, wonderful resource! I go back on the 25Th to meet with a marketing guru.

As of now, I am planning on having the PUSH PACKS for sale on Etsy. My goal is May 1, 2011. I already have future orders for 4, with the promise of more.

I'll keep you posted.