A former Stratford-upon-Avon College A-Level student is now running her own successful modelling agency in London. Charlotte Griffiths, from Stratford, co-founded London-based Bridge Models, one of the growing number of Curve agencies representing larger size models, which recently gained fame as the first in the country to sign plus size male models.
Charlotte and co-founder Beth Willis chose the name Bridge Models because it symbolised their firmly held belief that health and beauty come in a variety of body shapes and sizes. Charlotte’s personal view is that the fashion industry, with its huge influence on people’s perception of what is considered beautiful, has a responsibility to portray this, and so the agency’s aim is to “bridge the gap” between standard and plus size and promote a healthy body image.
Encouraged by the fashion industry’s increasingly positive attitude towards plus size female models, Bridge Models signed its first plus size male model – 23-year-old Ben Whit, a gardener and personal trainer from Guildford in Surrey, whose lifestyle perfectly supports Charlotte’s desire to promote health and fitness. Bridge Models now has three male models in its Bridge Men division and is overwhelmed by the positive response this innovative step has received.
Charlotte attended the College from 2005 to 2007 and studied A Level Drama, Media and Film Studies and AS English Literature. She has particularly fond memories of meeting and working with a wide range of people. She believes her time spent there, working creatively alongside others, not only taught her a great deal about herself, but also helped prepare her for running her agency. “My course tested my skill set and allowed me to push barriers. That is definitely something you need to be able to do to set up your own business.”
Before founding Bridge Models, Charlotte worked as a model herself and believes this also played a part in preparing her for her current role: “Having that experience was invaluable. It helped me understand the industry and the demands in a way I probably never could have working just behind the desk.”
Charlotte takes great pride in having been the first in the UK to launch a plus size men’s division. She also counts amongst her proudest achievements the work her agency has done over the past two years for Fashion Targets Breast Cancer, a charity campaign founded 20 years ago by designer Ralph Lauren after he lost a close friend to the disease.
“We launched the first Curve campaign for the charity last year and continued to support with an editorial shoot this spring. Raising awareness for charities that are close to my heart is a great opportunity, and breaking barriers and records is a huge bonus.”
Charlotte acknowledges that managing her own agency requires a great deal of hard work and enormous commitment. She has this advice for any young person aiming to run their own business: “Be honest with yourself. Ask yourself what do you excel at and what do you struggle with. The way you will be successful is knowing your strengths and weaknesses and working with them.”
And what of the future? Charlotte accepts that, despite a change in attitude, the fashion industry still faces criticism for the way it portrays body image. There is a long way to go, but with people of vision like Charlotte at the helm, the future looks extremely promising.
For more information on any of Stratford-upon-Avon College’s courses, please visit www.stratford.ac.uk or call the College on 01789 266245.