Former model Kristi Lin Finch, who was discovered by Gianni Versace and modeled for top companies such as Victoria’s Secret, Target, and QVC, is now a successful businesswoman and author. She penned the book “Modeling Quick Guide,” a book for aspiring models and their parents. She also launched The Sam Blaze Agency, a modeling and talent agency in Atlanta. Among her clients are BET and Paramount.
“The Sam Blaze Model & Talent Agency was officially launched in February of 2014,” explains Finch. “After over a decade of modeling, acting, and managing models and actors, I felt it was time to fulfill my ultimate destiny and become more involved behind the scenes. I am now able to leverage my professional experience and connections to allow others the opportunity to manage and help models and actors realize their dreams of being in the fashion and entertainment industries.”
When she launched, Finch was eager to get the business up and running, and actually had too many clients. “My first startup challenge was underestimating the demand. I started out with, too, many clients and not enough qualified talent to fulfill the client’s need,” she shares. “I overcame this challenge via event marketing to find unsigned fresh and established talent.”
And there is plenty of that in Atlanta, which has been growing as an entertainment hub over the past decade. “’If you want an opportunity, seek a problem,’ is a phrase that catapults my entrepreneurism. I noticed 8 years ago that Atlanta was a prime location for the entertainment business. Due to its open landscape, mild climate, competitive cost of living, college educated workforce and the Georgia tax incentive, the demand to film here is at an all-time high, however, the talent and crew support is insufficient. This ‘problem’ allows my agency to do what we do best, and that is to provide trained and prepared talent to the film and television projects here in Atlanta.”
But even with a lot of clients to begin with, launching a modeling agency is no easy task. “Actually, modeling isn’t an industry at all; it’s a profession, much like any other profession…Modeling is one of the most misunderstood professions out there. The toughest thing about being a model is the rejection, however, rejection and a model’s response to rejection can be managed successfully with the proper guidance and preparation from a model’s agent. The toughest thing about being an aspiring model is being misinformed and misguided, which is what led me to release, ‘The Modeling Quick Guide: GetStarted in Modeling Quickly and Easily.’ My book gives aspiring models and their parents all of the information needed to break through the initial barriers and to get started in modeling with very little or no money at all,” she says.
Finch made sure she was prepared when she opened her business. “When I wrote my business and marketing plan, I wondered how the modeling arm of my agency would be different from many others. As a model, I had good and bad experiences and I wanted my models and their parents to have a good and comfortable experience with my agency. We are proud to stand out as the first modeling agency to call for aspiring models and actors,” she explains.
Some modeling agencies get a bad rap, so Finch works hard to help people to better understand the profession and what an agency actually does. “Many people aren’t aware of what an agency does. Agencies represent models and are paid a commission after the model is paid. Many aspiring models and their parents should do their homework first. There are schools that advertise to aspiring models and ask for exorbitant amounts of money to get started. Many of these aspiring models have zero chance of ever becoming a fashion model,” she points out.
She continues, “Agencies will not represent models if they don’t feel she or he has what it takes to be a model. I have been in the aspiring phase and have made the mistakes, so now the next generation of aspiring models won’t have to. I am so passionate about helping people live their dreams that I spend my down time, away from my friends and family, to consult with hundreds of aspiring models and parents for free. They learn to trust me and to listen to me because I give guidance and direction, not a simple yes or no answer. I relate to my talent, because I look like my talent, but more importantly, I understand my talent’s concerns and dreams. I have been called, ‘The Talent Agent with the Superstar Face,’ which is flattering considering I’m a retired model, but I think it just speaks to how relatable I am to those who wish to travel the same road I successfully traveled 20 years ago. My reputation for honesty and compassion began crossing borders and I am now called on by aspiring models and their parents all around the world…Over time, I realized that I prefer that individual agents have a niche and the agency should be a full service agency. Therefore, we represent all ages, ethnicities, and sizes.”
Finch obviously enjoys what she does. “Many people think that I am a talent agent. That is what it would seem I do for a living because it’s on LinkedIn, Twitter, my website and so forth, but I like to believe that what I do is so much more. I create and I inspire. I create models; actors; dreams; and reality. I am creating legacies. I inspire those who want, those who dream and those who make their wants and dreams their reality. Being a supporting character in my talent’s career is what I enjoy most,” she shares.