wewomen Newsletter
Inspirational Women: glass blowing, modelling & lifestyle advice
Article in images

Neely Reyes - model agent


Neely Reyes, founder of Sapphires Models
When Neely Reyes “dabbled in modelling” in her teens she soon learned that models could be looked after by their agencies so much better. After studying graphic design at university years later she returned to that idea and Sapphires Models was born.
“I met a lot of models during my time of going to castings and I thought there was a real gap in the market for an agency that genuinely cares for its models. That’s what I set out to do with my business partner, photographer Ian Warren, who I met at university”.
Neely founded the business at just 24, but she insists she’s always had an entrepreneurial spirit: “As a child I’d bake cookies and sell them for pocket money and I’d sell lipstick samples in the playground that my auntie, who was an Avon lady, would let me have in exchange for doing her washing up!”
At Sapphires, Neely takes on brand new faces with a view to developing their careers right from the beginning. “We’re a boutique agency, with fewer clients than a lot of big agencies and this is because we want to really look after our girls’ careers.”
This means they create the all important portfolio for their girls – something which, as Neely points out, wannabe models are often over-charged for by unscrupulous agencies or photographers. Neely is also passionate that her models aren’t pressurized about weight, something she suffered with as a model. “Agencies always encourage their models to be too thin. That’s why I would never want to develop Sapphires as a high fashion agency because I’m morally opposed to the weight issue and high fashion demands too thin models.”
Neely is developing an impressive commercial client list with her models taking part in campaigns for the likes of Selfridges, Umberto Giannini, House of Fraser and, most recently, Japanese retail giant Uniqlo’s fleece campaign where they placed one of their newly signed creatives, renowned designer and illustrator, Daisy de Villeneuve.
It’s not all been plain sailing, though. After securing a business loan from The Princes Trust, Neely and Ian soon found themselves having to learn the business side of running a company on the job: “We literally didn’t have any business experience at all – bookkeeping and accounts and things like that - we were doing it all ourselves and it was hard work, but it paid off.”
It certainly did, Sapphires now has a London office, as well as its flagship Wolverhampton office and Neely has picked up a clutch of awards including Inspirational Women Young Entrepreneur by the Business Link, and shortly after, Entrepreneur of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce.
So what tip can she share for other would-be entrepreneurs?

“You can’t research enough. Whatever your chosen industry; do your research properly, then go for it!”


Alison Taylor
Rank this page: 

Don't miss...
17 Things You Should Never Say To A Dog LoverSAG Awards 2014: Stars on the red carpet
Play our Sudoku game!The Ultimate Mid Length Hairstyles
Latest… 2018/01/05
Compulsive spending
Managing money
Scrapbooking: making a scrapbook album like a pro
Work for yourself - get your small business online
See all Women in Focus guides
Teaching kids about money
See all Women in Focus videos