What is a ‘Mother Agent/Agency’?
A ‘Mother Agency’ is basically your first agency.
They are generally the agency or person that discovered or first signed you. Models are signed by agencies who find girls through scouts, competitions or walk ins. Some models are signed by an individual “model scout” who take on the role of signing them to agencies and charging a fee (commission).
A mother agents role is wide ranging and mainly include training you, presenting you to clients, arranging meetings for you with overseas agencies, creating an image for you, helping develop a strong portfolio and protecting your rights.
It is important to be well informed and diligent when choosing a mother agency as they will be your direct representation moving forward. It is common to be asked to sign a contract with your mother agency to be exclusively represented by them. Often contracts may state that you must remain with your agency for a minimum timeframe, which is intended to dissuade other agencies from poaching you after your mother agency has invested their time and money in establishing you.
Your contract will also likely specify a certain number of days notice you must give your agency before you can change to another agency.
A mother agency makes their money through booking fees and commission from their models. Mother agencies will also receive a commission on any paid work you do overseas.
What you want in a mother agency:
- Understanding of your symbiotic relationship. You are both working towards a common goal – finding you the right work so you can both get paid!
- An agent who sees your potential. They are the person you need to believe in your capabilities the most. They are responsible for promoting you to clients and creating an atmosphere around you of exclusivity and demand. An agent who does not believe in you will push other girls ahead of you meaning you may never unlock the career you could have had.
- An agent who you can trust. You need an open and honest relationship with your mother agency and its representatives so you can both ensure your expectations are being met. Trust is essential.
- Open communication. You need your mother agent to be someone you can contact easily in and out of business hours. If you have troubles on a 5 am shoot you need to trust that you could call them. Likewise you need someone who will reply to your emails and call you back in a timely manner. This is simply a measure of professionalism.
- Your agent should be well connected. A good mother agency will have a big network. They should have a working relationship with a lot of different clients and they should be well connected to a variety of agencies in many overseas cities. Having a mother agency with a large network will open up your opportunities.
- An agency which maximises your potential. You need your mother agent to want to sit down with you and talk about your future and develop a plan to unlocking your potential and achieving mutual goals. Your future will often include travel. Your mother agent should be able to ask you first of all what you want to do & where you want to go, but they should also suggest where they think you should go, where is best for your career. They should know the markets a lot better than you do and they should know where you will work the best.
Your mother agency will likely have contacts with overseas agencies. A great mother agent will push you to these overseas agencies and arrange for you to meet with them in order to be represented by them. By lining you up to be signed to an overseas agency will be not only in your best interest but theres also.
- Someone who respects your interests. You need a mother agent who does not exploit you or let you be exploited or underpaid. They should only let you work with other creatives who have good reputations and never put you in a situation where you do not feel safe. They are your legal guardian per se, and they need to protect you and look after your best interests at all times.
Before signing with a mother agency.
Shop around. Make appointments with all the agencies that interest you, and meet with all of them before choosing one. You want to explore your options here and find the best agency for you.
Be informed. Ask people that are signed to specific agencies about their experiences and don’t be afraid to research the agency.
Remember you work together with, not for your agency.
A mother agency takes a commission from the amount paid to you from the client.
Some models are scared of making a fuss to their mother agency because they worry about the implications. In the end you are the product, and you make them money – if you are unhappy about something, tell them. You have all the rights to do so.
That being said, you need to be respectful and listen to their feedback.
You should have a mutual respect with your mother agency. This means they should respect your wishes and always communicate with you in a respectful manner and vice versa. This is a business relationship but as always in business it is of paramount importance to be professional and personable. Be respectful and take your job seriously. When you go to a job you are representing your agency and must always be on your best behaviour. Your agency does not have to work with you and can choose to terminate your contract (as long as the contract conditions are followed).
Likewise if your mother agency does not respect your wishes you can also consider changing agencies (if your signed contract permits it).
They should always tell you what your rate will be. You should not have to ask them, this is your job after all and money is probably one of the biggest reasons for you wanting to work. Likewise if your agency does not automatically inform you of the pay for each job, ask them. Don’t be scared to ask how much you are getting paid, you work together remember.
I am with Viviens Model Management Australia wide. I have been with them ever since I signed in 2008 after I won the Viviens Live Model Search at Perth Fashion Festival.
I love my agency for the fact that we have a good working relationship. They are not afraid to talk to me when I need to change something and I feel comfortable about asking them questions and letting them know if there is anything that needs to be adjusted.
I have gone through breaks in my career when I just needed some time off to recoup and they have been great a giving me space.
There have been times when I needed to be told that I had to start focusing more on my career and they have done that well.
My mother agency has also always assisted me in getting overseas agencies, and I know for a fact there are some agencies who hardly lift a finger for their girls.
If I have ever felt as if I was not being pushed to clients enough I have told them and it has improved. I have not needed to change agencies thus far and I am very glad.
You build a great relationship with your mother agency and they can become like a second family to you. Viviens have had the perfect balance of friendship and professionalism to my liking.