The model agency CM Models was founded in 2015. Today it works with models from Germany but also Stockholm and Paris for clients all over the world. Today we met agency head Stephan Czaja and talked to him about the success of the model agency!
From the idea to the agency
FIV: Hello Stephan. You founded one of the model agencies that people are talking about! You’ve built up almost 10,000 followers on Instagram in one year, booking models all over Germany and Europe. All of this came suddenly, in just a few months. How did the idea for CM Models come about?
I’ve always loved doing media. First it was a music magazine, then an advertising agency. In between those two points, I was briefly a student and a bartender. At the time, I was just finishing college, hung up the music magazine, so I ended up working at a beach bar mixing cocktails over the summer. At some point a photographer came to me, he needed a website, I wanted to go on vacation and this was the perfect way to just fund my vacation.
Germany - Spain - USA
That’s how I got into photo shoots, studios and models. At some point your name CM Models was in my head and the idea was there. Of course I looked online because I was sure that someone in this world had already come up with the idea to call their model agency CM Models. There was no one! That nobody used the name for his agency surprised me so much. After that, it took another three years until I just started in the fall of 2014. Since I had my ad agency on the side I could only focus on it on the side, of course. But at some point you can really call from the customer, so need models and have 2015 decided to pour everything into a real company and founded our model agency, CM Models.
CM Models: From startup to model agency with international jobs
FIV: You have already experienced a lot after 18 months. From the idea to the launch, what have been the biggest challenges for you as a model agency startup entrepreneur so far?
Basically, there were three main points that we had to consider. Firstly, our brand absolutely has to be strong enough to compete with the biggest agencies or competitors. We always wanted to compete with Prada, Dior and the other big labels. No sooner said than done. That’s why it was important from day one to design the look in an absolutely independent and high-quality way in order to create a new agency that independently attracts attention, polarizes through its name and its good appearance.
Of course we need a lot of photo material of our models, organizing good photo material is, believe me, a real challenge. Not all photographers offer the level that you need for exponential growth. That’s why it was an absolute pleasure for me that fashion photographer Oliver Rudolph joined us right at the beginning. So we were able to deliver high quality images for our sedcards, for the models, for magazines and for clients right from the start.
Branding, online marketing and look were and are two absolute key factors for us.
Challenge number three was search engine optimization. Since I come from the online marketing and advertising agency world, I have of course very early, very intensively with the topic of search engine optimization in platforms such as Google, Bing and Yahoo. CM Models should be a heavyweight in the search engines from the beginning, which means to be listed in the best positions for all relevant cities. This includes Berlin, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Munich, Cologne, Hamburg and of course international cities like Paris, Milan New York and Stockholm. Ensuring this is quite a task, especially with a completely new domain.
Big goals, big challenge: The path to the model index
FIV: After having mastered all three challenges, you should be well prepared for bigger goals. How has your model agency developed since the start?
Our model agency has developed excellently. Not only do we now have a lot of international models in our model file, we also have very international clients. We would never have expected this success at the beginning of 2015. We are even now relatively far ahead in Rio de Janeiro, but also in cities like pink in Japan.
Of course, we also learned a few things and made some mistakes in the beginning, but we quickly corrected them. We learned, for example, that the modeling industry has to be cool on a certain level. Especially for up-and-coming models, you have to create a strict management so that they learn what to look for in the industry and cleverly avoid their own mistakes in advance. Mistakes are not so easy in such a professional environment. Especially with clients who pay a lot of money for this one shooting appointment, it is important to make a professional impression right away. We help the models with this and on the way to build their career sustainably. We are very happy to go the way together with our models.
NRW Prime Minister Hannelore Kraft (SPD) visits the model agency.
FIV: You already have over 8,000 followers on Instagram, you have a blog and are very active on Facebook. Who is actually your most important target group at CM Models?
We have two target groups that are important for us. On the one hand, of course, all marketing managers, the big agencies and the big companies. Therefore, it is important, as mentioned before, that we have a very professional appearance and deliver very professional services, with each model booking. Decision makers, i.e. people with demanding positions in companies, are not easy to win over, as they are usually well connected, have good contacts, are able to ask questions and examine new situations very carefully. The customer is king!
Secondly, it is of course the young models and up-and-coming models throughout Germany, Europe and worldwide on which we focus. Here we shine especially through our strong social media presence, already after one year we have more followers than most agencies ten years. Of course, this shows the models that we have very modern structures, are very digitally positioned and thus naturally share a bit of our own life instead of just hiding at an office. We want to show what we do and want to help young people realize their dream of modeling. We put a lot of effort into it, also on our website everyone who is interested can find free and valuable content, so they know what requirements they have to meet as a model.
FIV: If a model is then interested in you as management, how can one become a model with CM?
Of course, there are all the classic ways, so that you are scouted, for example, in a cafe, all of a sudden. But that is rare and rather the exceptions. Then we would have to walk the whole day in the pedestrian zone.
The easiest way is to apply online on our agency site. Here you can simply go to the menu, select the appropriate application form and get all the information directly delivered. For example, you can see exactly what information we need and what kind of pictures. Many people think that we need many, many pictures. But natural snapshots are enough for us, so that we get a very natural impression of you as a person.
This is the easiest way to apply to our model agency.
FIV: How many applications do you actually get as a model agency?
In short, there are a few hundred people a month who apply to our agency.
FIV: That’s really a lot of applications. How many models do you actually have under contract?
We currently have 80 models under contract. We also keep the number in double digits, so that we can take care of all models individually and personally. Of course, it is also very important to us that we get every model, within our possibilities, enough castings and jobs so that he or she can fully concentrate on modeling.
The agency has top placement also in rankings
FIV: CM Models in five years, where do you say it’s headed?
We want to become even more international! Since we have already achieved a lot in the first year, new and well-known customers such as Peek & Cloppenburg, Opel, Nivea Men, C&A, and many more. We want to take our models even further. That’s why we are permanently trying to win more cities for us through further measures in search engine optimization, with social media management and with online marketing.
As already mentioned, we are now also very well placed in Rio de Janeiro or arises the Osaka, Japan. Our big goal is of course to make the leap to New York, the fashion metropolis where model agencies are at home. New York is the biggest goal for us to achieve this year or next. Here the big jobs are the big clients and the big stories.
Thanks for the interview!
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