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Jacqueline DePaul shared her story with us.
A telecommunications consultant for large corporations and a
fashion model. Jacqueline DePaul of YellowbrickRunway didn’t
start her modeling career until the age 38, at the age when most
people would think to end their modeling career. We thought that’s
inspiring so we contacted Jacqueline for an interview.
"The only limits we have are those we place on ourselves."
How did you start your modeling career?
I started my telecommunications career out of college.I didn’t start
modeling until age 38, when I felt like I needed a new artistic outlet.
I was working for a Fortune 200 Telecommunications company as a
sales consultant to large businesses. I had a Bachelor of Science
degree in Physics. The technical aspects of my job fulfilled my
scientific and engineering personality. Meanwhile, dancing, which I had
been drawn to since childhood, fulfilled the creative side of me--my other
half. Expressing myself artistically through dance invigorated and
energized me. As we continued rehearsals I developed extreme foot pain.
The doctor diagnosed me with fractured sesamoid bones and his
treatment plan: No dancing for six months to a year. I had lost my
creative outlet. I definitely needed a new one.
One day, a very clear and certain thought entered my mind, almost
as if someone else had placed it there: “I think I want to model now.”A
loud argument inside my head ensued. The discussion was between my
creative side, that part of me that came up with the idea, and the logical
side, that part of me that felt the idea was ridiculous.
I resisted the urge to judge or criticize myself. I allowed myself to be a beginner and learn with little
expectation. I was doing this for my own pleasure, so I tried not to worry about the end goal. I was just
going to do it because I discovered I really did love doing it. And eventually my “hobby” became a bit
more than a hobby, as do all things seem to do when people spend a lot of time with them. It has
been an incredible, fun, and fulfilling journey.
In the end, it’s not about the end: fulfillment lies not in achieving a particular “gold star” moment but in
doing something you care about passionately. The pursuit, the commitment—that’s what brings joy.
Whether your passion is excelling at—or simply participating in—the visual arts, acting, singing, sports,
or business strategy, chasing that dream brings fulfillment. Do what you love because you love it and
it thrills you. In our achievement-based culture we can easily lose sight of the real point of following
our dreams and passions: to realize ourselves, whoever that turns out to be, and to have a fun in
pursuit along the way. Don’t worry too much about being good at it. Just do it simply because it
makes you happy. And then, as your hobby develops sit back and watch where it takes you, and you
may be quite surprised at the result.
What three pieces of advice would you give those who want to pursue similar career path?
If you would like to model, you have multiple options:
1) Be a genetic lottery winner and get picked up out of a mall and sent to Paris (aka Karlie Kloss).
These are the girls in the top campaigns, fashion magazines, and runway shows. This didn’t happen to
me, so I’ll focus on other options.
2) Figure out what type of model you are, and start modeling for trade on websites like ModelMayhem
.com where models, photographers, and creative talent network to build their portfolios. Get some
experience. Then visit agencies at open calls and see if they like you (you don’t need pro pictures).
Enter modeling contests, keep going back to the agencies, keep working on your book. Eventually you
will hit something (that’s what happened to me when I won the 2011 Wilhelmina 40+ model search, it was
when I finally hit the mainstream.
3) Be an Instagram model! If you are not a standard model size or look, but you are interesting and
unique, be an instagram model. Show your life events, your outfits, your fun personality. Like Blonde
Salad. And eventually, after you build your following, you will be asked to model for small-large brands
because you are considered an “influencer” with a large audience. Brands will collaborate with you and
ask you to take pictures in their items in exchange for gifts or cash. Many of the top fashion bloggers
make way more money than most models. Even the agencies are opening “instamodel” divisions to
represent instagram girls. And then you can transition into other modeling.
What does it take to be a success in what you do?
A long term vision and don’t sweat the small stuff. Have fun in what you do and take pleasure in each
accomplishment. Don’t drive yourself crazy. It can take years to build a modeling career, and most
models don’t even consider it a career, its more a part time, once in a while thing. Even Coco Rocha
says that most working models make $20-$30K per year, so don’t depend on it for your finances or
you won’t be able to continue. Get another income source until someone asks you to model full time
For me, I approached it as my creative hobby, a way of expressing myself, and even though I am in
my 40’s I took beautiful pictures that I wanted to do even though it is not an “appropriate” thing for my age.
Eventually it took off into a modeling career, I had a lot to learn to catch up with the girls who have been
doing it all of their lives, and I had some hard lessons. One of them is on this blog post:
And be a business person, be strategic, be smart in your choices. Then if you make one that is not
great, don’t worry about it, just push forward
I have many inspirations from people, places, and philosophies. One of the people I like is Albert Einstein,
he was an amazing man, and he has the best quotes, for example "You have to learn the rules of the
game. And then you have to play better than anyone else. Albert Einstein"
Best advice you've ever received?
1) Celebrate the successes and focus on them. Ignore and learn from the failures.
2) Always talk to the person standing next to you, you never know who you might meet.
3) Start with something small, something you can do, and build from there.
Any other notes/tips/quotes to help motivate and inspire other to be a success in the fashion
industry and life in general?
The fashion industry is changing. You can create yourself and your brand through social media now.
Regular models are being paid less, social media models are being paid more. Pay attention to these
trends and try them. Have fun with it, don’t worry about being perfect, just start small and build from there.
Don’t worry too much about things. Just keep going.
To learn more about Jacqueline DePaul and her modeling adventures visit her websites:
I promised myself to simply enjoy whatever experience and adventure I could get out of modeling for as long as I wanted to pursue it. No pressure. No
self-judgment. And so, my new hobby was born. Referred by a friend, I contacted the Tri-Community Photography Program in Covina, CA and volunteered to
model for a beginning fashion photography class. I started a healthy diet so that I would be in shape for taking pictures, and for the first time in a long time I really
had some motivation to stick to it. I whitened my teeth, got a haircut, and signed up for runway lessons with a local instructor. I set up profiles on social and
photography networking sites like ModelMayhem where I could connect with photographers looking for models. I volunteered for every photo shoot I could find.
I used my business negotiation skills to get picked up for photo shoots that I normally wouldn’t be selected for. Slowly and surely I began developing a modeling
portfolio with better and better images. I worked hard and simply ignored the fact that I wasn’t supposed to be modeling at my age. It was just my hobby after all,
so there was no pressure, but I approached it with the same passion that I had approached dance: with a zeal for performance and dedication for training, learning,
and figuring out ways to Improve. That was the start of my journey as a fashion model.