Thee Danielle Baker is an extraordinary woman. Gifted with a tremendous amount of talent and a renowned work ethic, her accolades stretches from an International Model Coach, Model Booker, Fashion Show Producer, CEO of Signature Ink Models, Director of Model Behavior University and founder of Girls GLAM Fashion & Mentoring Program. She is an Award Winning Industry Leader with 18 years in business. The author of Model Behavior and she’s a Tripled Crowned Beauty Queen with 8 Pageantry Titles. Her mentoring program serves as an olive branch to help aspiring young ladies reach and access their full potential.
As a product of the inner city, she has over came several obstacle which is why her motivational speeches and overall tone is a beacon of hope and inspiration. Her public speakings includes social ills like breast cancer, AIDS and child abuse. She also campaigns to raise money for The Baltimore Outreach Center, The Children’s Mission Inc., Prevent-A-Child Abuse, Breast Cancer Awareness and AIDS Awareness. She is truly an inspiration.
With a busy career that also include motherhood, the ultra talented business woman took the time to speak in Industry Rules to discuss her career and her many ventures.
AF: How did you get started in the fashion industry? What were some of the obstacles you had to overcome on your road to success?
DB: My mom put me in modeling classes at the age of six. I loved modeling as a child—traveling, competing in pageants, and walking runways. As I got older, and I was not a kid anymore, things really got real for me. My skin was not thick enough for all the rejection and mean words that damaged my self-esteem. I could not understand why models that became extremely ill to be the size clients were looking for and that some even developed eating disorders and died.
My biggest obstacles and challenges was gaining a stronger sense of self and overcoming financial turmoil. Inside my ‘Model Behavior’ book, I said and I quote “The modeling industry is the Beauty and the Beast. Normally before someone gets into the industry, they only see the beauty or they get the chance to experience the beauty side in the beginning, but trust me, the beast awaits. It is living, breathing and ready to bite, attack, chew you up and spit you out at any time. It hides behind rejection and screams louder than fear. The beast is what took me into depression at a young age. Outside of going through my own depression from constant rejection and damaged self-esteem, I had to continue to wrestle with feeling the spirit giving up, time after time. Lastly, the financial turmoil I have experienced could have surely resulted in being homeless or being in a psych ward. By the grace of GOD, family, friends, and sacrifice, I am still standing. I was a young entrepreneur and I have invested everything including getting loans, depleting my savings, and so much more. I would get things needed for my business before I would get a meal. Everything I have done and been through has come with great sacrifice.
AF: Who were some of the people you look to for guidance and/or inspiration?
DB: I have always looked to mother my entire life. She instilled some characteristics in me that are priceless. My husband inspires me all the time with ideas, encouragement and support.
AF: Your accolades include fashion show producer, model coach, author, mentor, fashion talk radio host and pageant queen. Which one are you most proud of?
DB: I am most proud of being able to book models of all shapes, sizes, heights and cultures, and being their voice and fighting for diversity, inclusion and equality. This was unheard of when I started my business back in 2002. The entire fashion industry was against inclusion. They believe female models should be 5’9” size 0-4 to get booked. The industry is now starting to open up by giving more opportunities, but we still have a long way to go.
AF: Can you please explain the importance of The She Matters Conference? What is your most memorable moment from the conference?
DB: The mission of She Matters is to inspire, cater to and showcase female accomplishments. We did that through conferences, camps, awards shows and other empowerment events. Our slogan “I Matter, You Matter, She Matters!” was meant to inspire self-confidence as well as the importance of uplifting others as we positively impact our communities. We wanted young girls to have a head start by introducing them to successful concepts and people at early ages and make it fun for them.
My most memorable moment from the conference was the impact it made on the girls. The smiles on their faces, the questions they asked, the positive energy and their eagerness to learn. I received tons of great feedback and they walked away full of inspiration and even changed. Year after year positive results keep pouring in.
AF: You recently helped 15 mentees start their own business. How does that make you feel knowing that you are impacting their lives in a positive way?
DB: It completely fills my heart with joy from start to finish, and even afterwards. Seeing their ideas become reality and being a part of the process is crazy and exciting for me.
AF: Can you take me through the day to day of being a model coach. What does it entail and how do you motivate aspiring models?
DB: A day of being a model coach consists of doing one on one coaching sessions both virtually and in person. Create and tailor plans that will take models to the next level no matter if they are just starting out or have years of experience. I develop models through posing, branding and runway modeling. I give them homework after their session and I have homework too. We work on their plans together. I create model profiles to submit models for work and continue to move them forward.
I motivate models through showing them their results and results of others. I build their confidence and exercise their faith muscle to believe in themselves. The models I work with become part of my community and tribe of other models. They receive support from each other and gain inspiration by seeing what each other are doing on a daily basis.
AF: What are three things aspiring models should know?
DB: The Goal. Why are they modeling and what do they want to accomplish while doing it? The Plan. Come up with a plan to accomplish your goal and do not be afraid to ask for help along the way. Overcome Rejection. Understand the power of the word NO. Receiving rejection can be redirecting you to something better. It may not be a good fit for you or the client and in some cases No, can mean not right now. I have entire chapter in my book about over coming rejection and understanding it is not what someone says to you that matters, it is what you say to yourself. When they say no, you say NEXT.
AF: Tell us about your book “Model Behavior” and what inspired you to write it?
DB: Model Behavior is a model handbook for new and experienced models. It inspires and empowers you to be successful with invaluable information that you can apply directly to both your modeling lifestyle and everyday life right now.
I was inspired to write this book because of everything I have been through and the lack of hope and information that was available. I prayed for a book like this when I was younger to help guide and direct me to Get Coached, Get Booked, & Get Paid. I had no idea that I would become an author to fulfill those needs and bring change.
AF: What is next in your career?
DB: Traveling and taking my Runway Bootcamps, fashion shows, workshops and events around the world, both nationally and internationally. As well as continuing to create opportunities for models of all shapes, sizes, heights and cultures.
Photo by The Photo Chase