So you're a native Charlottean?!
I grew up in Charlotte (not many of us left!) and all of my family still lives here, which is wonderful- my parents, my brother Trent, and his wife Joanna. I went to Sharon Elementary, Carmel Middle and Myers Park High School, and then graduated from NC State University. I was away from Charlotte in college and then moved to NYC for five and a half years, so it was a good 10 years before I made my way back with my husband to be closer to family.
You are a professional model. Tell us about your journey:
I have always loved the camera. My Mom recognized this and after seeing a modeling class advertised in the paper, she signed me up. It was like a summer camp where we learned how to pose, walk, and put on makeup, but most of all we just laughed and had a great time with our teacher, who was also one of the owners of a local modeling agency, Carolina Talent. Picture me with at 14 in braces and a “Blossom” hat….awkward! We had a photo shoot the last day and believe it or not, Randy Motsinger, took a chance on me and signed me to his agency.
Twenty two years later, I have worked all over the world, including Japan, Greece, South Africa, Miami, Chicago, and New York for agencies like NEXT, Miami and New York; ELITE, Chicago, Atlanta and Japan and Directions here in NC. I lived in New York for five and a half years and worked constantly. Like with anything else, it’s important to find a niche. Mine was “the girl next door.” I was mainly a bridal, lingerie and catalogue model during my time in New York. I worked for designer labels such as Adrienne Vittadinni, Betsey Johnson, Oscar de la Renta, Calvin Kline, Juicy Couture ,and Mon Cheri Bridal. I have appeared in spreads for many magazines from knitting and sewing magazines to fashion magazines like Seventeen, YM, and Brides. I also have done and still do showroom/fit/show modeling for Bali, Neiman Marcus and others. I have done print work for Belk, Rooms To Go, Hanes, and your random clothing catalogs like Graco, Caphalon, etc. Give me a mu mu, I don’t care- I will model it and be happy about it! The only thing I won’t do? COSTUMES. ;)
What do you think it takes to turn modeling into a career?
Back when I started, a model needed to be 5’9” or taller and a size six or below to even see a client. I love that this has changed and now there is a market for all sizes and shapes. Regardless of your size, you have to have a strong sense of self. I’ve been told my arms were too long, the mole on my lip should be removed, I need a nose job, to lose weight, and much more! You have to be very disciplined as well. I learned that “if you are on time, you are 15 minutes late.” This isn’t a hobby, this is how I have made my living and paid my bills. It is a job that has an unpredictable schedule and most jobs are booked on very short notice. This is a challenge, especially with two small children. I think I have been successful at this for such a long time because I love what I do, and I love my clients!
And I have to say, another reason I was able to work and travel as much as I did at a young age was because of my mom. She travelled with me, chaperoned me, and helped with career decisions when I was in junior high and high school. She guided me and gave me the tools I needed to work in an adult environment, but also made sure I went to school while continuing to work and took a break to complete college.
How did modeling arm you with life skills?
The summer I turned 17, I signed a contract with Elite, Japan to work in Tokyo. My parents had been told this was the safest market in the world and that I would be taken care of. I will never forget getting on that plane by myself…actually getting OFF that plane by myself. No one spoke any English, and I had no idea who to look for. I definitely stood out because I was the only tall blonde in the whole airport! Somehow I got to my agency and ended up working six days a week, long hours, and then going on castings after work with a driver from the agency.
I lived with a 15 year old who was also there alone without parents. I felt responsible for her and let me tell you, I grew up really fast. As if working six days a week wasn’t enough, I contracted a parasite and came home weighing 97 pounds. We spent most of my senior year trying to diagnose what was wrong with me. My parents tell me to this day that letting me go to Japan alone was a decision they regret, but for me, I see it as a challenge that I am proud of and it made me who I am today.
Husband Jack Hall, six year old son Lawton, four year old son Wyatt, and a nine year old soft-coated wheaten terrier “Colbie”
Definitely my two sons! I never imagined myself with kids...I knew I wanted them, but couldn’t imagine what I would be like as a mother. The moment my first son was placed on my chest, I knew this was what I was born to do. I love them with all that I am and though they drive me crazy being so hard most of the time, I am proud of who they have made me. I wake up every day thinking about how they are going to treat their future partners and others in the world- and know that the decisions I make and how I treat them will play a big part in this. I just hope that I am doing my job well.
Favorite spot in the Carolinas to visit?
I have to say, my husband just this summer surprised me with a trip to Palmetto Bluff in Bluffton, SC, and I am in love. It was the first time for both of us and it definitely won’t be the last. It is gorgeous, the history is really interesting, and the people were so lovely. We truly had the best time…AND they have s’mores every night!
What causes or charities are you involved with and why?
In March 2012, at my 18 week ultrasound during my second pregnancy, my husband and I received the news that our baby would be born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. My world was turned upside down. I had no idea what this condition was, how he would be affected, what challenges he (we) would face, or what lay head. Fortunately, my fetal specialist was Dr. Courtney Stevenson with CMC Women’s Institute Maternal/Fetal Medicine, one of the regions “Top Docs” and our surgeon, Dr. David Matthews is a world-renowned cleft specialist. I learned a lot from them and now hold them both very close to my heart. Our beautiful son Wyatt was born July 29 with a unilateral cleft lip and a bilateral cleft palate. After two surgeries, and a year of speech therapy, he is an adorable happy four year old. There are more surgeries in our future, but he was lucky that this was not life-threatening and without other issues that can sometimes go along with a cleft diagnosis. For his first birthday, with the help of Hilliard Studio Method and Flywheel, I was able to raise $12,500 for Dr. Matthews’ to perform cleft repairing plastic surgery for children in Jordan who otherwise would not have been able to afford it (Craniofacial Children Foundation).
My husband also ran the New York Marathon to raise money for Smile Train, an international foundation supporting cleft surgery in under-developed countries. We are so proud to be parents of a child born with this, and I love spending time to talking to other mothers who are expecting babies with a cleft. I hope to ease their anxiety and let them know I am here for them in any way. I feel that everything happens for a reason, and this is a huge part of my journey, and my future.
My family, especially my husband Jack, is also a huge supporter of the MS Society. His father was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis at age 29, and has been wheelchair-bound for over 15 years. My husband has biked and ran marathons in support of MS, raising over $7,000 through the years. This cause is very close to our heart as well, and we enjoy being a part of the MS community.
What are some of your favorite stores in Charlotte?
1. Candy, candy, and candy! Favorite store: CandyGirl Confections.
Where do you workout?
Y2 Yoga, Cotswold location: Angie and Jen are my favorites ;)
Flywheel, Cotswold location: Jenna, Sarah and Steve are my favorites ;)
Hilliard Studio Method, Myers Park location, Charlotte: Liz, Clary, ALL the teachers are awesome!
Dowd YMCA, Charlotte: any Athletic conditioning classes led by Chuck or Kai.
Favorite TV shows?
The Bachelor/Bachelorette of course...I have to say, I look forward to monday nights! I always have ice cream while I watch!
Odd Mom Out- so cute and funny and true!
Walking Dead- hooked!! My husband and I were sketchy about it and now we can't get enough.
Game of Thrones. No explanation needed!
Something people would be surprised to know about me?
I eat in the middle of the night…every night. Snack of choice? Animal crackers. I know, like a three year old. It’s bad. My dentist is NOT happy about it and I am trying to quit, but it’s hard when you have been doing it for over 10 years!
How did your father's cancer impact you and your family?
My dad was diagnosed with tonsil cancer in 2007. It changed all of our lives. We had never had anything happen like this to my immediate family. Jack and I were going to be married in eight weeks. My dad chose to have surgery immediately instead of chemo, so he could walk me down the aisle and enjoy the wedding before starting radiation. The surgery was so hard, seeing my dad like that was heartbreaking. Seeing my mom cuddled up on his hospital bed and never leaving his side was powerful. When I got married weeks later, I cried at the “for sickness and in health” because I knew what that meant. I had seen it with my own eyes. He was so strong and had to go through so much. I would help change his surgical dressings and wasn’t bothered in the least, and right then, I knew that I could be a good mom. My dad endured many rounds of hard radiation to his throat and neck and had to have a feeding tube. It was awful, but he came out stronger than ever. His cancer led my mom to go school and study to become a PA, which she is now, and incredible if I do say so myself! My dad is nine years cancer free this September.