We are excited to announce the newest member of our Dulcedo Models team, Anna Bertram! With her extensive background in the fashion industry and her passion for talent management, Anna brings valuable experience and a fresh perspective to our agency. Learn more about this industry veteran below.
Can you tell us a little about your background and how you became a model agent?
I grew up in Montreal and started modeling at age 16 after winning a Quebec-wide contest. From there I worked in markets around the world (NYC, PARIS, TOKYO, OSAKA) and continued my education simultaneously. I moved to Brussels where I completed my BA in Communications, and returned to Montreal where I then did a postgraduate certificate in Journalism at Concordia. I started my corporate career in account management at Cossette in advertising. Later on, I explored various roles within the fashion industry in sales and marketing, which led me to launch my creative consulting company working with brands and agencies to create compelling strategic content and branding.
In 2018 I began working as an Artist Agent at Folio managing the careers of Canada's leading fashion stylists and hair and makeup artists. When Covid-19 hit I also took on a contract at Skin and Bones Film in Toronto with the mandate to cultivate and inspire creativity for a roster of 20+ international commercial film directors.
Throughout my career, I continued to be a model and actress.
How long have you been working in the modeling industry, and what inspired you to pursue this career?
I was scouted on a beach in Eleuthera, Bahamas by ESPRIT who was shooting their big annual campaign there. That was my first experience modeling at a very young age and from that moment I never really stopped modeling and being connected to the business. Over the years I naturally mentored younger models and photographed new faces scouted by Chantale Nadeau prior to joining Folio as a full-time agent, co-leading the Artist department.
I have always been inspired by fashion and the idea of being part of the creation of the image of a brand, a photographer’s vision, or a show. Having begun my international career as a model myself at a young age, I highly value the notion of a trustworthy relationship with an agent. I truly believe that a good agent can give models the mentorship and confidence they need to thrive in a competitive environment where rejection is an everyday occurrence. It takes resilience to make it in modeling and I am passionate about being the best cheerleader for young talents while equally fostering a strong relationship with clients and collaborators across the globe.
What are some of the biggest challenges you've faced as an agent, and how have you overcome them?
My hands-on agent background is in artist management which has been widely beneficial in terms of having the experience of understanding the needs, challenges, and demands of all the different moving parts of a shoot, centered on the model. I have the insider knowledge of what it takes to be a successful model having worked on campaign management from all angles. These experiences, combined with my marketing and creative background, support my passion for talent management.
In terms of challenges, I think it’s when we have a vision for a model and really believe in her/his success and how to get there, but when our passion doesn’t match their willingness to work for it so it becomes increasingly challenging to cheerlead when the work is one-sided. The challenge is to accept that someone’s potential won’t be reached if they don’t want it as much as we do for them. A model’s success is a team effort.
What do you think are the most important qualities for a model agent to possess?
Trustworthiness, a good eye for talent, a caring and authentic approach to career development, a real passion for the business, and a natural ability to match talent with brands. When this is done with ease, it builds client trust. We are all about connecting the right talent for our clients. To that end, it is important that our clients feel that we cater to their needs and that we make the process as smooth as possible. It’s all about collaboration and good communication.
“I believe what you say because I see what you do” is a mantra of mine in terms of leading my team to have an impact as agents.
Regardless of whose career we take on, be it a model, an artist, or an athlete… as agents we have a responsibility when given the opportunity to guide someone’s career, to act as their mentors, and help them achieve their dreams. In order to do that we have to first believe what we say in terms of their potential, and then we have to do everything we can to make good things happen for them. That’s the power of a good agent.
How do you identify new talent, and what do you look for in potential models?
There is no doubt that to succeed as a model you need to be photogenic. As agents we have a “feel” for that…. we search for faces that have camera appeal. There are classic requirements to be a model but beauty standards have evolved so much in the last decade which opens up the pool of talent, but it also makes it more competitive with so many diverse talents with visibility. Standing out can be harder and agencies have to curate their offerings according to what brands are looking for. Height has always been a factor that still stands true today. Personality matters more than ever. A beautiful girl with a great on-set presence, solid work ethic, and engaging disposition will have an advantage. People love the spark in others, and that spark is what makes them shine in shoots. Our job as agents is to cultivate that in our talent and to inspire our clients to seek it and find it with us.
How do you stay up-to-date with industry trends and changes, and what steps do you take to ensure that your models are always on the cutting edge?
Personally, I look to artists I admire and see what they are creating. I follow the busiest photographers, hair and makeup artists I admire, and designers who are doing interesting things locally and internationally. With a solid network of creators, we are better positioned to refresh our marketing tools which is the model book. Collaborating with high-level teams as well as identifying the next generation of photographers and content creators is important in order to stay current. I also feel it is important to inspire our models to create engaging content on their social channels. Brands are interested in who is engaging in the market. To be relevant, models have to participate in the digital world more than ever.
What are your thoughts on the modeling industry in Canada? And what are your thoughts on the growth that has taken place over your time in the industry?
I am happy to see the inclusivity and diversity in terms of client castings. I feel that brands make an authentic effort to connect with their consumers versus selling them unattainable dreams. I love the growth we have seen in the curve model category. There is confidence in that category now. It is no longer testing the waters. It is now normalized and seeing the rise and potential of models like Melissa Dias is inspiring for young women and that is a win for our industry.
Age is another attribute that used to be so stigmatized. Back in the 90s, it was widely known that a model’s career lifespan goes until the maximum age of 25. Models would lie about their age to be accepted in certain markets. A 28-year-old model was old. Today age is celebrated and there is room for every decade to be represented and celebrated. That is great to see and on a global level, we witness it with the return of the 90s-era supermodels on runways and in prestigious campaigns. Shalom Harlow and Amber Valetta, both 49, just graced a Vogue cover together. Naomie Campbell, at 52, stole the spotlight at Paris Fashion Week. In Canada, we see this age inclusivity with brands like Simons, Laura, Melanie Lynn, and Reitmans, among others. Local designers and our beloved ELLE CANADA also lead the way in our market. If you look at their covers over the last few months, it clearly highlights this trend.
What made you decide to join Dulcedo?
The passion that resonated during my initial conversations with the executives. The hustle, the desire as a company to continue to be better, to grow, to inspire, and to honor this founding division. I was drawn to the idea of being part of the vision for Dulcedo’s incredible expansion and success and I was ready to take the plunge after meeting all three partners. I felt a genuine professional connection and went for it. The culture that I feel at Dulcedo is inspiring. I am happy to be working in an environment of like-minded people who care and strive to achieve a shared vision for success while having fun and bringing their true selves to the table.
What are your goals for the future, both for your career as a model agent and for the models you represent?
My goal is always to grow, level up and make an impact. My passion is seeing talent rise and succeed. I aspire to be a value-driven leader. I lead with kindness. I consider my career as being part of who I am. It is my identity to foster the success of those in my care professionally. I am proud of my reputation in the industry because to me it means I have earned the trust of clients and talents and that is so important to me. I am thankful that Dulcedo sees my potential and welcomed me so enthusiastically to the team.
My goal in terms of our talent is for our models to shine, feel our value, be proud of their representation and continue to rise and spread the Dulcedo success stories around the world! I see us being a magnet for the next generation of amazing talent so that our clients are always excited to see who we discover for them and we keep our fashion industry thriving, expanding and showcasing beauty through diversity on all fronts.