Candid's Fashion & Grooming Editor, Ross Pollard introduces us to Finda.
The fashion industry is feeling the full force of technology, and while many of us have engaged with some of the changes such as online shopping and social media, other areas perhaps slip under the radar as part of the logistics of the industry.
Then along came Finda, an online platform that’s creating a change in the industry. Finda have created a way for models to engage with the industry on their own terms, and as I have an interest in the way the industry operates, I caught up with former journalist, and now CEO and Co-founder of Finda, Mariya Grinina, to learn more.
You’ve recently launched your platform that links models directly to clients; it’s one of those concepts that makes you think why did nobody do this before. Were you surprised by the gap in the market?
The idea to launch the platform emerged in conversations with my best friend, a former IMG model. From hearing her stories, I was surprised by the difficulties in the modelling industry, the lack of transparency and the mistreatment of models.
I did more research, interviewed hundreds more models and understood these problems needed a modern solution: applying well thought-through technology, community support and belief in models being able to make their own, smart decisions.
Having worked in the industry for nearly (whisper it) a decade, I’ve come to know a lot of models and listened in horror at some of the stories they have. What do you think has driven a culture that is so problematic for the industry?
The current, non-transparent set up of the industry benefits the system in many ways, that’s why people do not want to change it.
I showed Finda to a couple of model friends and they immediately jumped on the break from needing an agency, favouritism, costs and other issues that agencies can have. Is this a case of tech forcing the industry into change?
We believe that both agencies and platforms can co-exist, creating a healthier environment where models that need personal management and are happy with the agency structure will stay with agencies.
Those, who want to have full control over their careers, and are more business-savvy and proactive, will have our transparent and empowering platform.
They will pay a much smaller fee, have equal opportunities to be discovered by clients, and have the power to negotiate fees themselves – all in a safe and transparent environment. Finda is for entrepreneurial models.
You’ve been very clear in your client and model codes of conduct what you want to see from users on both sides of the contract; how has that been received?
It is being received very positively by the industry. Usually from clients and models we hear that they are particularly excited about us because we do our best to keep Finda safe, diverse and supportive for our talent.
Modelling can still be an amazing career, getting to do amazing things and visit amazing places; what advice would you give to an aspiring model?
Apart from learning how to pose, walk and be fabulous in front of a camera, please learn to say ‘no’ when you don’t feel right about something. Surround yourself with people who respect and support you, do not take failures on castings seriously and cultivate as much confidence in yourself as you can – there will be many people who’ll try to put it down.
What part do you feel you can play in supporting models outside of job connections?
The Finda community is much more than job connections. Our community provides models with a safe space, online and offline, where they can connect with fellow modelpreneurs, share experiences, ideas, network, learn from each other, discuss topics of interest with experts and with each other at our Findavoices events, and seek advice and support.
The industry often likes to hide issues, discourage sharing of experiences. We want to change this.
Fashion has had a paradox where while parts of the industry have embraced tech advancement other areas haven’t changed. So, a two-part question…
Part one – has fintech been the biggest driver? Commerce is, after all, king.
Fintech has certainly been helpful in building the technology within Finda. Our chief technology officer left his senior position in a digital bank in the Netherlands to co-found Finda.
He brought some strong ideas on – bringing financial transparency, safety and efficiency. The increasing availability of technology-based payment services has allowed us to build a new payment system into Finda, helping us to dramatically shorten the time needed to pay models for their work – from sixty days down to five for first time payments
It even faster for models who have used our platform multiple times.
Part two – where do you see big changes still to come?
The big change is the new, progressive culture of modelpreneurship (aka entrepreneurial modelling) that technology is yet to develop on a large scale.
There are many more technical advancements we have planned for Finda all aimed at helping models advance their careers quickly and easily, as well as ensuring clients receive the direct benefit of the speed that our platform provides in being able to book models directly, safely and securely.
The final question – if I gave you a magic lamp that you could use for three fashion wishes, what would they be?
I’m not sure I need three wishes for this. I believe in faith and hard work, and I’d spend my wishes on making the fashion world safer, more open-minded and more inclusive.
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All photographs suppled by Black PR on behalf of Finda.
Model Harley Lough.