Linden Staub is a model agency by females for females, which aims to bring back honesty and integrity to the world of modelling. Founded by Tara Davies and Esther Kinnear Derungs in 2012, the agency was born when Tara and Esther’s paths crossed while working together at a London agency five years ago. Realising they share a mutual disdain for the treatment of models in the industry, Linden Staub set out to empower models all over the world, with a focus is on very close personal management, working on its talents’ objectives and goals. The company was officially launched on 6 March 2016. We spoke to Davies and Kinnear-Derungs to find out more…
Tell us in your own words what Linden Staub is all about
Linden Staub is a model agency with a difference. We represent and book models in London and internationally in all forms of fashion media. Alongside having a new business model our focus is on very close personal management.
How is Linden Staub distinct to other modelling agencies?
We are unique; a Mother Agency only within a main market. This means that although Linden Staub will allocate and place models to work with other agencies in cities all around the world, we do not take models on placement for work. Being 100% Mother Agency allows us to give complete dedicated management and avoid the politics that so often disrupt or end the careers of bright young models.
We also pay our models the day after they have worked. As contracted freelancers, many models wait months for payments, so are unable to have full independence. We pay our models, and then wait for our payment from clients. Our view is that the model has done her job, so she should be paid. This is one of the steps we take to educate and empower our models.
What is your personal background?
Esther: I was born in a mountain village in Switzerland where I lived until I was 22. I had a Swiss National Business Degree from Berufs- und Weiterbildungszentrum Buchs and worked in the law sector within the finance industry between Switzerland and Liechtenstein before I moved to London in 2010. Inspired by a love of fashion and a fascination with model management, I developed a strong sense of ethics in my previous legal experience, which in turn, lead me to Linden Staub and the opportunities it can bring for young women.
Tara: I was born and grew up in South-West London. Graduating from the Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts with a degree in Musical Theatre and Dance in 2008, I worked internationally as a professional dancer, in television, film and stills, before moving into the fashion industry.
I credit my understanding of the pressure and rejection that young models face daily to her previous work as a professional dancer. Upon deciding to change my career, I was drawn to model management from an empathetic perspective and I hope to disrupt the industry with Linden Staub’s unique business model.
What inspired you to start the company?
There was no real ‘lightbulb moment’, the creation of Linden Staub was more of a realisation that grew over time from our disillusionment of how women were treated within the industry.
What is the story of Linden Staub from launch until now?
The company started as the two of us on a tiny Ikea table in our beautiful Kontor office space. We had four girls signed on a wing and a prayer and no internet connection! We now employ five members of full time staff and recently opened an office in Russia, run by an ex-model of ours. Our main board has 11 internationally working models and we have over 50 new faces in development. We also have nine European model scouts and are delighted by such amazing people wanting to align themselves with us.
We’ve had incredible support industry wise, and have established the most amazing London team of people who genuinely share Linden Staub’s vision. Though we expanded faster than initially expected, it has reinforced our vision that people are welcome to good, new change.
So how exactly have you monetised your product?
Our business model allows for full disclosure and transparency with our talent, which in the long-term allows us to strengthen the relationship with our girls and monetise our investment in them. We believe the best possible model is one who is empowered and educated – by empowering our talent we can provide our clients with the top level of model.
Have you had to overcome any significant challenges?
The biggest challenge we face is the constant judgement and resistance from being two young women. We constantly hear: “When you’ve been doing this for 30 years”; “You need more experience”; “When you’ve been in this business as long as I have…”. We do not believe that things should be done a certain way just because they always have been. We are constantly motivated by people telling us that what we are doing won’t work because it is different. We believe that this style of management is a welcome disruption in a very messy industry.
What accomplishments are you most proud of?
We are most proud of the teams we have built at our London and Russian offices. This has not been a quick or easy process, but finding amazing people who support your vision and managing them is the most difficult and unexpected aspect of running your own business. We have always gone with our ‘gut feeling’ with the people that we bring into the company, and we have an incredible team of young women who
What’s next? Will you grow the business independently, or look for an exit via acquisition or similar?
In terms of growth, we would see Linden Staub expanding in to more markets worldwide, however alike to our expansion into Russia we hope to have kept the process organic, ensuring we do not forget the core values of empowerment and education that Linden Staub stands for.