Q and A with Juach Cyer of Rïŋ Models
We had a chat to the entrepreneurial Juach Cyer, founder of Australia’s first dark-skinned modelling agency, Rïŋ Models. From turning tragedy into triumph, to musings on the state of the industry today, Cyer’s insights are bound to inspire.
Can you tell us a bit your background, and about how Rïŋ Models came to be?
Rïŋ Models began as a teenage project. My cousin Rin Dut, an aspiring fashion designer, and I were looking for darker skinned models to showcase clothes from his upcoming label Rin. It was really hard to find dark-skinned models – there weren’t that many options in Australia, and especially so in South Australia. We decided to start our own agency in tandem with the upcoming label. We set out by recruiting models, photographing their portfolios and creating a website for the agency.
Our plan was to launch in February 2015, but in January of that year Rin had a tragic accident and passed away. In honour of Rin I decided to change the agency’s name to Rïŋ Models and I launched the agency on his birthday, May 25th 2015.
Were there any unexpected hurdles that came with opening Rïŋ Models?
Getting started was the hardest part, but the same could be said for starting any major project. A lot of planning and research took place in the establishment stage, and we’re still learning! What might be the right approach for some, may not work for others, so trial and error plays a major role. When I first launched the agency I sent emails to designers and photographers, the response I received back was just amazing. People responded positively to the idea, and shared their own experiences of having trouble finding diverse models in this industry.
Essentially, we’re opening up a market that doesn’t exist and giving people more options.
You were named one of five ‘changemakers defining our time’ by i-D in partnership with Gucci. How did it feel when you got the news?
I was honoured and grateful to be considered and recognised by i-D as a visionary, advocate and changemaker defining our time. Rin’s name made a change in fashion just like he always wanted and I couldn’t be any happier.
Australian fashion events and labels frequently come under fire for a lack of diversity in casting. Do you think that diverse representation in fashion imagery and events in Australia is improving?
We still feel this is still an issue that we face today, and while we’re seeing some small changes in the industry with more demand for diverse models on runways, there just aren’t enough models of colour participating. Australia is smaller-scale in the global fashion landscape but similar statistics are still applicable; we feel that change is happening, and we all feel a personal responsibility to be a part of that shift.
What do you look for in a model?
We love ‘unusual features’, standout defining features that make a face interesting, specifically we are always looking for things like gap teeth, high cheekbones, and freckles. We try to cater for both editorial and commercial looks to be versatile for every opportunity that arises.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
As we delve deeper into business, the more we learn about the challenges of the industry. Fashion is a challenging yet oftentimes a rewarding environment if you know the right people who can help you move forward. We’re constantly being reminded that the old saying rings true, ‘it’s not what you know, but who you know’. We’re always working on creating new connections and building rapport with like-minded people who see the potential of the agency.
What do you hope the future holds for Rïŋ Models?
We will continue to push the boundaries. Rïŋ was born out of a desire to “normalise” the inclusion of dark skinned models, to change the skin colour bias in the fashion industry. Our long-term goals would be to make Rïŋ Models the go-to agency for dark skinned models in Australia and overseas, and have more inclusion of dark-skinned models in runway shows. Lastly, we wish to expand the business with interstate offices in the near future once we outgrow our local base.
All Images by Stephanie Cammarano featuring model Rasha Kardo