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AN INTERVIEW WITH BOLAJO FAWEHINMI, CEO OF FEW MODEL MANAGEMENT

Still in the high spirits of Fashion season, we were able to catch one of the prime faces in the modelling industry here in Africa to discuss her journey and the growth of the fashion industry in the continent and the recognition received globally. Meet Bolajo Fawehinmi, founder and CEO of FEW Model Management, ‘Africa’s leading model scouting company.’

Bolajo has been a Modelling Talent scout and manager since 2015 and has a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Obafemi Awolowo University and a professional and leadership development degree in Harvard Business school, she is is famous for her eye for spotting talents and her ability to make world-standard models out of people who never thought they could ever be models. Because of this, FEW Model Management was able to bag a partnership with IMG Models to create FEW Next Face, a model scouting programme in Lagos for girls all over Africa that creates amazing opportunities and international deals.

Q. What was your vision 4 years ago for FEW Models?

4 years ago, the vision was ultimately becoming a major Modelling Academy in Africa, funny I guess, but that has changed now.

Q. Would you say you have achieved some of the goals you set before starting FEW?

Yes, we have and even superseded all set goals at the inception of FEW.

Q. Did you model at any stage, if yes, how would you describe the experience?

Yes, I did.  On a very high-level, it was brief, amazing, stressful with a little disrespect here and there sometimes.

Q. What influenced your decision to start a modelling agency?

I have always had a passion for general management, project management and so much more.  I got my bachelor’s degree and knew I had to do something in that line.  I was also very clear about how I wanted to grow in my career and what career path I wanted to follow.

I knew the norm wasn’t my thing so I had to forfeit the good job offers I got; I was more certain than ever I had to start something for myself.   At the time, I didn’t know what but I knew I had to do something out of the norm and outside of my Degree.  I guess I chose to start FEW because of the underlying love and passion for management not necessarily fashion or modelling.

Q. How would you describe the modelling industry in Africa?

Growing, growing and still growing.

Q. Do you believe there is any form of marginalization in the modelling industry?

Yes, I do believe but sometimes some questions would have to be asked around if such marginalization is intentional.  Often time, it is done to suit some specific purposes which sometimes may or may not sit well with some certain demography of people but when lots of research is carried out on such conversation, one would realize that most marginalization is done with no premeditated harm.

Q. What features do you look out for when scouting a model?

It’s a difficult topic to discuss; I set out with the intention of looking out for the uniqueness in each girl.  Uniqueness varies which makes this job a difficult task.

Q. How would you say the modelling industry has grown since you started out?

Enormously, Africa’s presence has grown enormously in the international scene since FEW started operations in 2015.

Q. How difficult was it breaking into the international market?

To be honest, very difficult!

Q. How have you been able to develop a healthy business relationship with the international modelling industry?

By just getting the job done.

Q. What has been your defining moment so far?

I think all the milestones with each girl has been a defining moment.  It is a special and unique challenge with each girl.

Q. You have currently signed 6 of your models to YSL, how did that come about?

I think this question wasn’t phrased properly.  YSL is a brand and as a mother agent, we can only sign our models to Agencies in such territory and not the brand directly.  That being said, I have had 4 of our girls walk the show in Paris which of course, is a major moment for us as a mother agent and for Nigeria as a country as well as Africa at large.

In 2017, we had Elizabeth Ayodele who made a Paris debut with this Iconic brand.  In 2018, we had Ayobami who also made another worldwide debut with this iconic brand, in the same year; we also had Eniola Abioro who walked the runway for YSL including other major shows that she did.  In 2018, FEW became the first African mother agent with such record, to have 2 girls on the YSL runway.  And then, in September of 2019, we also made another worldwide debut with a new talent that we just discovered, Tolulope Soetan on the same YSL Iconic Runway.   The support from the YSL team and DM casting have been enormous, which I am grateful for.

Q. What should we expect from ‘FEW Next Face Africa 2020’?

A new journey, a new discovery dimension…

Q. What major achievement are you currently hoping for?

Haha, I think I will keep this till my next interview!

Q. What fashion trend would you never be caught following?

Tricky one, I actually don’t go with trends, I go with ME, I think I determine my Fashion trend.

Q. What do you look forward to during fashion week?

Seeing the models on the runway and looking out for where corrections need to be made on their career path if any, also watching out for new faces to better understand the current trend moving forward.