After 20 years in business, a Church Hill modeling agency is taking on the Windy City.
Modelogic Wilhelmina, a talent agency that books models for national advertising campaigns, fashion shoots and acting jobs, expanded this year with a new branch in Chicago.
Modelogic founder Stacie Vanchieri said that, because the agency already works with clients in the Midwest, the new office should make some logistics easier to manage. The expansion also represents a chance to tap into a new talent base, she said.
“There’s more competition in Chicago, but there’s a lot more business to be had,” Vanchieri said. “It has the potential to be twice as large as the Richmond office.”
The Church Hill location at 2501 Broad St. represents about 700 models between the ages of 4 and 88, Vanchieri said. The agency books up to 20 jobs a week.
Vanchieri said that Modelogic Wilhelmina regularly works with ad firms such as the Martin Agency and Barber Martin and that their models have been featured in campaigns for the RoomStore, the Virginia Lottery and Walmart.
The agency occasionally places actors in Hollywood productions – including “Lincoln” and “Green Lantern” – but Vanchieri said the bulk of the work comes from print campaigns.
“The big jobs are exciting, but the little ones are our bread and butter,” Vanchieri said. “The volume that we have is what keeps us going.”
Vanchieri said clients pay models by the hour or the day, and the agency typically takes 20 percent of the booking fee.
“You have a product to sell,” Vanchieri said. “You have to package it properly, you have to put it in front of the right people, and you have to get the best price you can for it. It’s simple, but you have 1,000 personalities to deal with.”
Vanchieri, a Long Island, N.Y., native who started her career as a fashion photographer, launched the agency in 1993. For the first several years in business, Vanchieri photographed all of the models herself and reached out to potential clients throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.
“I was very aggressive with trying to find business, and we still are,” Vanchieri said. “Clients don’t just think ‘I’m going to call an agency in Virginia.’ But for the state that we’re in, we have an unusually strong base of talent.”
About 50 hopefuls apply to the agency every week, and Vanchieri said she also looks for new talent on the street. She was featured in “Scouted,” a reality show that followed three talent agents as they tried to discover the next big thing.
About two years ago, Vanchieri opened a second office in Milwaukee, which she said would be phased out in favor of the new Chicago location.
Vanchieri said the Chicago office has signed 150 models and booked print campaigns for Kohl’s, Shopko and Foot Locker. Over the next several months, she plans to bring on three additional employees to help launch a television department.
Once the Chicago office is further along, Vanchieri said she’s eyeing another location on the West Coast.
“I want to keep building and building,” Vanchieri said. “That’s just in my nature. Otherwise, it gets boring.”