I started what eventually became Jaze Companies in 2000. I had observed 2 friends of mine attempt to get started into modeling and watched as they did what so many model hopefuls do – find an agency. Like so many other novice models they found themselves a company who sold them on the concept of classes and educational training for a fee in order to get their modeling careers off the ground (and like many others they bought).
They signed contracts and paid thousands of dollars over 3 years to buy education/training products and at the end of their term had little show for their investment. Frustrated by the experience, they left when their contract terms where up and, slightly wiser, set out to find a better way to follow their dream. At the time of their exit from this “agency” I offered to leverage my marketing contacts to help them try and find actual legitimate opportunities to get their foot in the door somewhere. That favor turned into a 30-hour per week second job.
My first company, Jaze Modeling, started out simply as a bridge – helping models and commercial photographers get connected and, as you can imagine, I (rather quickly) amassed more models than I had photographers than I could refer them to. So I started off on a venture to get into photography and building model portfolios. Over the next couple years that transformed into a small full-service agency built around providing models honest, reputable help in getting their career started – all without classes, books, video, high-fees, contracts or red tape. My photography abilities attracted other business in family and senior portraits and weddings as well so I created Jaze Photography for my consumer-based work.
By 2005 I had established diversified interests in modeling, photography, fashion, entertainment and art and decided it needed a single umbrella under which everything could live and thus Jaze Companies was founded – a family of brands all revolving around the fashion and entertainment industry.
My experience early on with my friends opened my eyes to the predatory practices that exist within the modeling industry – especially as it relates to new models trying to find their way into the market. It was a problem I felt I could solve at least in a small way. The vast majority of “agencies” that you can find easily often are really schools masquerading as agencies. Their primary focus is to sell you classes instead of finding you work. And while there’s some merit in the training/experience you receive at these places there’s better, cheaper ways to get it that can actually lead towards advancing your career. The sad truth is most of these places are interested in selling you curriculum and cashing your checks – not actually helping you break into the modeling industry.
So I set out to change that. The founding principles of Jaze Modeling (and thus Jaze Companies) have been the same since it’s inception. We invest in our clients – We seek to develop models into competitive talent and we do so by affording model-hopefuls hands on, practical, experience and help them get connected and networked within the industry all without up front costs, classes, or contracts. The priority has always been the success of clients. It’s why I get out of bed everyday. I consider developing and investing in people my life’s work – the concept of “pay it forward” is a personal mantra. I count it a privilege that I get to live it out in this way.