LEARNING CURVE | Model business out to produce confident young people for demanding industry
Volenti Robson, 43, is passionate about creating professional models and successful young people.
The business owner of ACE Models PE believes it is important to teach youngsters the importance of self-care, self-respect and self-confidence.
Robson provides training in all aspects of the modelling industry, including ramp training, photographic modelling and casting.
Please share some background on yourself and how the business was started.
I have always had a love and passion for modelling and the beauty and fashion industries.
At age 18, straight after high school, I decided to take a gap year and moved to Johannesburg to pursue my dreams as a model.
My ultimate goal was to own my own academy someday, and so I did it. I love connecting and working with people.
What is your core service?
I provide training in all aspects of the modelling industry including ramp training, photographic modelling and casting.
We also offer a beauty pageant training course with the help of my pageant coach, and we prepare young ladies for being finalists, give pageant criteria and tips, pageant preparation and help with interviews.
We also offer one-on-one training, male and female grooming, make-up, skincare, public speaking and presenting skills.
What makes your business unique?
My service is top notch.
I am always there for my students, and teach them not allow others to tell them who they can and cannot be.
At ACE Models PE, we don’t want to fit in, we want to stand out.
If someone wanted to copy your business model, how would they start?
I am blessed enough to be part of a franchise with guidelines and support. Full training and full team support is given.
What are some of the biggest inhibitors your business faced before getting off the ground?
Women-owned businesses are still in the minority and earning respect has been a struggle.
To overcome this I’ve had to learn to build my confidence and overcome negative talk.
Do you have any tips for budding entrepreneurs or new business owners?
Take the risk because you will never know the outcome of your efforts unless you actually do it.
Only do work you really care about.
Believe in yourself and always have a vision.
What are some of your biggest challenges in day-to-day business operations and your particular industry?
When I started my business, I had a whole load of enthusiasm and confidence and fortunately, I have been able to learn as I go.
Also in a world of instant gratification, people expect instant service.
What is the best advice anyone gave you on success?
The advice I’ve carried throughout my career is to make a positive difference and do some good.
Have an idea that is going to make a positive difference to other people’s lives.
It’s extremely important to never give up.
How do you measure or define success in your business?
Success to me means that if I can help just one individual reach their full potential, then I am content.
I work hard every single day. It’s a journey, not a race, and to be successful consistency is the key.
What kind of advertising do you do?
Social media advertising is my most popular choice.
The platforms I use are Facebook, which is a good advertising choice for small business, and Instagram, a highly visual brand that appeals to a younger audience.
I also have open days at a mall where I hand out information brochures and flyers.
What is your company’s vision?
My main goal is to help mentor students, make sure they are truly happy and become the best version of themselves.
What is your target market?
The plus-sized modelling industry is the fastest growing sector of the industry. Never before has there been such acceptance, support and demand for fuller figures.
What have some of your highlights been in running your business?
My clients are my highlights because this year God has blessed me with the most amazing women.
It has been such an honour to be a trusted ear and voice for so many wonderful people.
How important is social media and an online presence for your business?
Social media is all about building relationships.
By interacting with potential models in real time, you can build trust, loyalty and confidence in your brand.
Do you have any plans for expanding the business, and how would you go about this?
My goal for the next few years is to expand ACE Models PE to every major city in the Eastern Cape.
I am looking into opening in Uitenhage, Despatch and Jeffreys Bay, to name but a few.
How did you acquire funding for the business?
I saved up over the years and when the opportunity arose, I had enough funds to purchase my franchise debt-free in cash.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learnt from your business journey so far?
The number one lesson I have learnt is that nothing beats hard work.
This will always outweigh talent and intelligence and it is necessary if you want to succeed.
What do you say are the three key traits of a successful entrepreneur?
Don’t be afraid of taking risks. No matter what industry you’re in, think out of the box, come up with better ways of doing things.
What do you wish people knew about your industry?
Having an agency representation won’t necessarily mean a model has signed up for success or wealth.
Models don’t clock off at 5pm. It’s not as glamorous as everyone thinks.
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.