For The Atlantic, Olga Khazan talks to top scout Mary Clarke about the model potential in the Midwestern United States.
When I interviewed Mary Clarke recently, one of the things that surprised me about her work is where it’s based. I had assumed any serious person connected to the modeling industry would plant themselves in a fashion mecca like New York or Los Angeles.
Instead, the Clarkes, who are married, operate out of Dardenne Prairie, Missouri, a small town about 40 minutes west of St. Louis. Their annual scouting trips center on Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois.
One theory, which Clarke heard from a fellow scout, is that the Midwest is home to a disproportionate number of people whose ancestors were the vertically gifted Northern Europeans.
But there’s another reason why the Clarkes and other scouts prowl the Aeropostales of Omaha in search of fresh faces. For every client that strikes it big, scouts receive a finder’s fee. Or, depending on the arrangement, they might earn a percentage of each job the model books. That means it behooves scouts to work where there isn’t much competition—like the vast, open plains—and to seek out girls and boys who aren’t already tied to a modeling agency.
Read the full article here.