Why diversity is more than size fluidity, according to modeling agent Nikki Mann

welcome to 30 Faces, a celebration of 30 people changing the world by 2030. A destination to learn about their career paths, what fuels their passion, and to educate and inspire your own journey to a brighter future.

When we think of modeling, we conjure up a standard vision in our minds. You know this one. For decades, model status has remained tall, thin, white, able-bodied, and cis-gendered. Not always, but most of the time.

That’s why after years of working as a modeling agent in Los Angeles, Nikki Mann has decided to be part of the change and start her own modeling agency in Australia, Everi-Body Model Management.

Following a hugely successful Sydney Fashion Week that saw a record number of Everi-Body models hit the runways, we sat down with Nikki to discuss her dreams of taking the token booking industry to the next level. to true inclusiveness.

Can you tell us about your professional background to date?

I decided to move to Los Angeles to be with my sister. I met people there who owned a modeling agency and offered me an internship. At the time, the agency only represented curve models. Working there, I quickly found my passion and flourished as an agent. I booked curvy women in Playboy, the Savage X Fenty shows at New York Fashion Week and many more amazing brands. Fast forward to 2020, Covid hit and I decided to come home to be with my family. I then lost my job and felt like I had hit rock bottom. That’s when my sister, Carly, came to me and told me I had to start my own agency, she wouldn’t take no for an answer… the rest is history!

What was the light bulb moment that inspired you to launch Everi-Body?

It was when I was doing my research on the Australian fashion industry and I couldn’t see where I fit in. I was not aligned with the other agencies and needed to see so many changes. So instead of putting my passion into someone else’s business, I decided to be my own boss. I could set my own rules and be as bold as possible to bring about positive change in the industry. No one could say “no” to me.

What does true diversity mean to you and why is it important?

For me, real diversity is when I can go to social media, a brand’s website and walk into their store and see that reflected in all of the images, not just a few customer ‘reposts’ on the brand’s social networks. It is important that your customers can identify with and feel both seen and heard.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

The biggest challenge when starting your own business is… starting your business [laughs]. I knew how to run the agency and be an agent, but I had no idea about the business side of things. I was very lucky to have my older sister, Carly, to support me. Without her, none of this would have been possible. It was also difficult to get potential clients and models to take me seriously, to convince them that I wasn’t a scam. [laughs]. The models who signed with me from day one are still with me to this day, they believed in me like I believed in them. It is a very special bond that we share.

You have just returned to the Gold Coast after Sydney Fashion Week. Do you see a change in the diversity presented on Australian tracks compared to previous years?

AAFW 2021 versus 2022 was like night and day. The improvement in diversity was amazing to see. I attended shows last year with my talent and left in tears. I couldn’t believe how far Australia was behind the rest of the work when it came to the tracks. Last year, I didn’t make any of the castings and I didn’t reserve any of my talents for the shows. Everi was only six months old and we weren’t connected in the industry yet. I find it hard to believe that the designers were shown models of all sizes and backgrounds and refused to reserve them. I don’t believe the agencies pushed for it like we all did this year. It was refreshing to see various models booked from all agencies this year, I’m always here to applaud everyone involved in leading the way.

Can you tell us about some of your favorite shows and brands that are leading the way in inclusivity?

My favorite show was Erik Yvonn show. My face hurt from smiling. As soon as I arrived at Carriageworks, I felt the positive energy of the guests. The show was one of the most diverse and you could truly tell the walking talent felt 100% free and happy. A few other shows I loved were Mariam Seddiq, One Mile, First Nations Closing Show, Nicol & Ford and Dyspnea. If you haven’t seen them, you need to go to the AAFW website and watch them.

The fluidity of sizes and the diversity of models are only the beginning. What else can brands and consumers do to ensure we are all moving towards a better and more inclusive future?

Diversity and inclusiveness is not just “size”. I think this is where customers make the mistake. This was noticed at AAFW this year as well. People with disabilities were not represented in the majority of shows, which was quite upsetting to see. Something I will work hard to change for next year’s shows and castings. Clients should also ensure that their staff are trained in diversity and inclusiveness. Hosting talks with guest speakers is a great way to showcase this on their brand.

Now, aside from your incredible career, let’s dig a little deeper into you. How do you like to spend your free time and take care of yourself?

I love my family and spending Sunday afternoons together. My partner and I also like to go time zone, bowling and laser tag [laughs]. Biggest kids there. Distracting my brain and being able to disconnect from work mode is taking care of myself. Find that healthy balance between work and life.

Do you have a favorite Kiehl’s product that gives you a healthy dose of personal care?

I love doing the Soothing mask with calendula petals after a long day at the office. So relaxing and leaves my skin feeling so refreshed.

You have been selected as part of the Urban List x Kiehl’s 30 Faces campaign that highlights 30 people working for a better future by 2030. When it comes to carving out a better future, what do you see and what do you want?

First of all, it’s amazing to have been selected, I feel very honored! I have a lot of exciting things up my sleeve for Everi-Body. I see so much growth and potential for us to continue to grow and change the Australian fashion industry for the better.

My passion to help improve the future of the Australian fashion industry has grown even stronger since finding out I have a baby girl. I will do everything in my power to make her feel seen and beautiful no matter what. I struggled so much as a child and teenager, and I really don’t want that to happen to her or anyone else. I want society’s standards of beauty to disappear and we all realize that everyone is beautiful in their own way. My main goal is to normalize diversity. I want customers to book designs for who they are, not their height or ethnicity. I don’t want them to be applauded when they book more than a size 14 in a campaign, I want that to be the norm.

Another thing I want is for the fashion industry to be a safe and healthy environment for talent, agents, creatives and clients. It can sometimes be a toxic environment. I try to change that with the environment I create for our talent and the communication I have with clients. The fashion industry is such a fun and creative industry that should be celebrated.

​​Continue to be inspired and discover other people who will shape the next decade on 30 Faces and learn about Kiehl’s commitment to the clean beauty movement and Future Made Better.

Image credit: Kirra Smith

Editor’s note: This article is sponsored by Kiehl’s and proudly endorsed by Urban List. Please support the sponsors that make Urban List possible. Click on here for more information on our editorial policy.

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