Modelling agencies have had their fair share of problems as they cope with the repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic. Like most industries, their challenges range from slow payments to layoffs to little or no work for their models. The situation extends to makeup artists, hair stylists and photographers who are considered as independent contractors. While agencies state they are doing a lot more digitally to get their models working during this time, social media model Eva Akhter has been seemingly ahead of the curve all along.
Immigrating from Karachi to Canada nearly a decade ago allowed Eva Akhter to pursue her dreams of becoming a model. In a recent interview she said: “I did not go through a modelling agency or become a magazine or runway model, I used the power of social media to help me gain fans and followers who enjoy my lifestyle and encourage me in all ways.” Starting off small, the model would post random photos of herself, but through the support and encouragement of her followers she gained a confidence boost to start something on a much larger scale.
To The Next Level
Creating a modelling profile on social media, Eva noticed a seed of possibility. “When business started contacting me for collaboration, I realised that this is now becoming a reality and I should take it to the next level.” She continues that social media has enabled her to start her modelling journey, effectively cutting out the need of going through modelling agencies. This move enabled Eva to join the ranks of popular Instagram models.
“When people hear the word ‘model,’ they assume the 6ft, 100lb girl. Models can be in all shapes and sizes. Girls always get discouraged and shy away from a camera. You don’t have to become a runway or magazine model. Thanks to the power of social media your account becomes your runway, and portfolio,” Eva explains, before adding good-naturedly: “…and your husband becomes the agent and photographer.”
Differentiating oneself from the competition makes sound business sense, leading to the adoption of a unique business model. Launching an online clothing store last year, the model aims to raise awareness about animal abuse. The merchandise appeals to a niche market, which Eva describes as follows: “I got the idea of this while watching the movie John Wick – his love for his dog was so strong and as a result he did whatever it took to get revenge. In our case we created the tag line ‘I will go John Wick for my Doggo’. We are not promoting violence, but merely displaying our love for our dogs. It’s a fun and strong tagline that any dog lover would understand, because most dog owners would do anything for their dogs.“
The clothing store, JW4DOGGO, supports dog shelters and rescues by donating 10% of sales to them. The model states she regularly collaborates with the Etobicoke Humane Society and hopes to use social media and her business model to raise awareness about dog abuse and killings.
The model has not always enjoyed a comfortable relationship with dogs. She admits: “Before Lambo one of my biggest fears was dogs. Growing up in a third world country put fear in my eyes for any dog because of the way we were brought up. The older generation view dogs as stray animals and not as pets. I always saw dogs being abused and was told to stay away from them, because they bite or spread disease. This made me scared of all dogs.”
It was Eva’s husband who helped her face her fear of dogs. He bought the model a husky puppy, named Lambo. Eva recalls: “I was scared of her at first, but as the days went by, I was falling in love more and more with her – and now she is my life.” With a renewed perspective around the safety and treatment of dogs, the model says: “Although Lambo is not a rescue, I have fostered a number of other dogs and found lovely homes for them.”
Eva has a clear idea of where she’s heading with her venture. She said: “Now my journey has expanded to supporting and helping dog shelters around the world and becoming a businesswoman. My future plans are to become a well known public figure through my modelling which will power and support dog rescue and shelters.”