Founders Gunita Stobe and Mark Luburic at the helm of Anima Creatives have been scouting fresh, diverse faces for the industry since over a decade. A talent management firm, Anima Creatives exclusively represents Indian and international models, photographers, stylists, hair and make-up artists for the fashion, film and advertising industry.
We reached out to the founders to trace down their journey from scratch, their perspective on fashion, modelling and everything in between. Here’s what they had to say:
ELLE: It’s been a decade since the inception of your agency. What has been the highlight of your journey so far?
MARK LUBURIC: Seeing Indian models becoming more mainstream in the global fashion discussion has been amazing. Whether that is for shows or campaigns, it has really set a precedent to inspire the Indian youth to try and carve out a career in modelling.
ELLE: While searching for fresh faces for Anima, what criteria do you keep in mind to find the perfect fit? Have you ever made exceptions that defy your pre-set basis? If yes, why?
ML: For international modelling, the girls need to be between 5’9 – 5’11 and boys need to be 6’1 – 6’3. However, we have always made exceptions. In such cases of exceptions, there are three things we look for: Are we inspired by the person’s look? Do they have a good personality and values? Do we think we can create a career path for them?
ELLE: You often feature beautiful dusky faces which is quite a topic of debate in India with regard to the existing colourism. How did you manage to push the envelope and change that perspective in the industry? Did you face any challenges?
GUNITA STOBE: I have always been inspired by a person’s entire look and personality, irrespective of their skin tone. Somehow, many of the faces we signed on turned out to be beautiful dusky girls and boys and it wasn’t intentional. We were just inspired.
There were many challenges at the beginning, especially from mainstream commercial beauty brands. They seemed to be obsessed with fair skin. The real change started to happen when our dusky girls were appreciated for their talent and beauty and casted for international hair and beauty brand campaigns overseas.
ELLE: Anima has discovered and nurtured the careers for some of the top models like Pooja Mor, Naomi Janumala, Dipti Sharma and more who have made it big. What does it feel like witnessing their journey from the start and watching their success now? Do you sense a feeling of pride of sorts?
ML: Absolutely! When you first meet these models, a lot of them are usually a bit shy and haven’t yet found a lot of self-confidence (which is normal when starting out). It’s the relationships you make with each one of them, and the personal and professional growth you see in them at different levels of their careers that makes it the best part of our job. Just knowing you have been part of that journey is really rewarding and makes our job so satisfying.
ELLE: Your organisation started with just one model and no office. Tell us a little more about your journey that has brought you here today. What were some of the struggles that you faced?
GS: We started out from our friend’s living room in Delhi without investors and limited knowledge about the fashion industry in India. The idea about starting our own model and talent management firm was borne spontaneously and was never really planned. It happened on our second trip to India, approximately 13-14 years ago. We saw so many beautiful faces around us and wondered why Indian faces were not represented internationally.
The cultural differences and work culture posed as a huge challenge. At times, we felt like closing the business and moving on but gladly we found the strength to push through.
ELLE: Modelling is a fast-growing avenue in India where today, millennials are actively taking it up as a full-time profession. What one advice would you give to the budding models that would set them right on their path to success?
GS: Here’s my advice:
Do good research about the industry and agencies that you are considering to join before taking your first steps.
It’s not necessary to pay for expensive portfolio shoots before approaching an agency. Simple polaroid snaps that can be taken by your friends or relatives. These shots should be with no make-up and should show your face and body structure.
This industry requires to be patient. Don’t get discouraged if you face rejection but keep going since the modelling industry is heavily based on inspiration.
Featured Photographs: Adhiraj Chakrabarti; Make-up: Riviera Lynn