Our First Shoot

We all know that our children are beautiful. We look at them and see the love in their heart and goodness in their eyes. I see this in my son every time that I look at him. It is one of the hardest things to do when I have to leave him to pursue his sister’s career. People often think that the modeling industry is about conventional beauty. They think that this industry is a luxury afforded to those who are beautiful and do not want to work hard. They underestimate what this industry really is and those that are a part of it. In this industry it is not about just about conventional beauty. It is about having confidence and that confidence showing through your every feature. It is about determination to work tirelessly. It is about the courage to stand there while the whole world looks upon you. Cassidy is one of those rare jewels.

When this first started I had no idea how it would take off. Even after the first trip, I didn’t know what was in store for us.

Before I even had a chance to catch my breathe, Nina was already ready for us to come back to the city and do out first shoot. It was for Nordstrom, and we were excited to have such a big name pick her up so soon. Nina was always very understanding about the distance, but no matter how understanding she was, there was no way to get around the very little notice from the castings. Often we would drive there and immediately turn around and head home. With my family living a few hours from the city, it was usually my only place of rest on this cross country commute.

This particular trip was a rough one. It was the dead of winter and there was a terrible snowstorm brewing. I had brought my grandfather who lives with me in Tennessee on this trip. Unfortunately, he is elderly and was unable to help with the driving, but it was nice to have some company during the difficult drive. By the time that we got there the weather had turned for the worse. Once again, we were late to the shoot and we were blind sided by the difficulty of the city in the extreme weather. Luckily, I had Nina Lubarda there to help make it work. She gave me the support to gather my courage and make this happen. Often I had to tell myself that this is what we signed up for, and this was such an amazing opportunity.

This particular booking was unique. It was actually a paid fitting and then the shoot would follow immediately , if you were chosen. When we walked in to the studio, a lady welcomed us with a warm smile and directed Cassidy in to the fitting area. The studio was a big open room. I had never seen anything like it and was anxious about the fitting. We had come so far, and there was a chance that she wouldn’t even be a part of the shoot. I was sitting next to a model mom who was explaining to me that they had been waiting for hours. She explained that this was not normal, but the weather was throwing everything off. She asked me who my daughter was and who represented her. I told her that it was Future Faces of NYC and told her about Nina. She proceeded to ask me about my contract, it made me a little uncomfortable to talk about such a personal thing, but being the outgoing person that I am, I was more forth coming than I should have been. When she started to get inquisitive about the details, I just told her that I didn’t want to discuss the specifics of my contract. I gave her the excuse that my husband was the one who read it and that I was not very familiar with the specifics. Shortly after that, her daughter was released because she was not chosen for the campaign. Later, I had called another model’s mom to ask her if this was normal for people to ask about contracts. Her advice was to focus on Cassidy and not to bother with any one else.

This was my first dose of reality. At this point, I realized that our lives would never be the same and that we were going to have to adapt to The City quickly, before it was able to swallow us whole.

The first shoot last three hours. When we were done with the shoot, we went back to the hotel room that we had rented out of necessity due to the cold. As we were leaving I asked Cassidy what her thoughts were about her very first modeling job. I knew that something was up because her little face was beet red. She informed us that it was “awkward” because she had to “hold hands with a boy,” and she felt guilty because her father told her that she was not allowed to hold a boy’s hand. I had to stop myself from laughing and let her know that it was okay, as long as it was for a shoot.

That evening at the room, we didn’t want to leave after the long day and deal with the cold, so we ordered pizza to our room. When I called the pizza place to order the food, I was told to go and wait for the delivery boy. When I walked downstairs, I was shocked to find that this kid was riding a bike to deliver pizzas in a snowstorm. It was rather strange, amusing and I couldn’t help but feel bad for him.

The next morning we woke up bright and early to get on the road before the street parking was no longer allowed near the hotel. Luckily they did let us get away with taking a little longer because of the snow.

On the way back I had nineteen hours to think about everything. It really began to set in what exactly I had gotten myself into. I realized that this was not only a challenging industry, but also fast paced. I also realized how different the culture was and began to prepare myself for the journey to come. Now with over a dozen campaigns (booked by Nina Lubarda’s knowledge, and dedication and Cassidy’s representation by Nina Lubarda Model Management & Future Faces NYC) under our belt such as Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, H&M, Old Navy, Little Miss Matched, Ruum, Joe Fresh, several editorials, and a Google commercial, it is still a constant struggle to adjust and to make it work, but this is her dream, and I am proud to make it possible for her.

https://www.facebook.com/cassidyfuturefacesnycninalubarda

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We Head to The City

A lot of people have asked me over the past couple of months how I found a modeling agency. Well, to be honest, I didn’t. Google did the searching for me. I searched top modeling agencies in New York City and found Nina Lubarda’s agency Nina Lubarda Model Management – Future Faces of NYC. I contacted her and she informed me that she gets hundreds of submissions regularly, and that it probably would take up to two weeks to get a response. That was the day that I went to Melissa’s house and took the pictures that started her career. After taking and editing Melissa’s pictures, I went ahead and submitted them. I was satisfied with myself for at least getting the pictures submitted. I thought to myself, “Well, at least she will know that I tried, even if nothing comes out of it.”

I was not even a block away when I received my first message from Nina. She told me that they loved her look. She wanted her to be in New York City  immediately to go to Joe Fresh. I was in shock. I had no idea what a “Joe Fresh” even was (by the way, it is a designer for anyone who is wondering). She wanted us there the same day. I laughed nervously and explained to her that I live in a suburb east of Memphis, Tennessee… nineteen hours away. Not only was it physically impossible for me to be there the same afternoon, but also that I was not interested in battling the traffic so close to the Macy’s day parade and Thanksgiving. I explained that the holidays are a time to be with my family and this is what is most important to me. She was very understand and kind about it. We spoke almost daily as we waited for the chaos of the season to roll past. 

Finally, it was time to go and meet Nina for the very first time. We had spoken for so long that I was excited to meet her, and at the same time I was also incredibly anxious about what was going to happen when we got there.

Two days before we are going to leave for our very first trip to New York, I was talking to Nina and trying to figure out the logistics of where and when to be at the shoot. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed that Cassidy was pretending to curl her hair with a comb. She came up to me with a look of panic in her eye that I had seen often on the face of my rather dramatic little girl. She had twisted the comb to the point of tangling. I immediately dismissed her and told her to wait for me to finish talking on the phone. A few minutes later I get up, stretch, and walk over to find Cassidy and deal with this comb nonsense.

I walk in to her room and my jaw drops like a character from Looney Tunes.

Cassidy has CUT the comb out of the front of her hair!

It was awful. I was in panic mode. We had only two days until we meet an agent in New York City and sign a modeling contract. At first I tried to just comb it over. I hoped and I prayed that no one would notice the awkward chunk that was missing out of the front of her hair. I was so scared that I never even told Nina about the “bangs” that her newest client has just acquired. What was worse is that Cassidy did not even have any head shots at this point. Nina was going to take the head shots for us when we got to The City. These are the pictures that Nina will be submitting to the clients.

Fast forward two days… We are driving to my home town in Dover, Pennsylvania. This is the first time that I had ever made a cross country trip without my husband. My mother in law agreed to come with us to New York. She had lived there when she was younger and I was hoping that she would be a help in navigating The City. When we got to my parents’ house in Dover that night, my GPS told me that we were only three and a half hours away from The City. This left me with only a couple of hours to sleep. I woke up after my little nap and picked up my mother in law.

We made decent time getting to city. We left early enough to leave plenty of extra time to find where we are going, get parked, and make the photo shoot… or so we thought. It turns out that driving in New York City was a whole new ball game from what I had ever experienced.

Only a few miles outside of the city we were stuck near the Holland Tunnel and completely boxed in by cars. I should note that I am not a particularly aggressive driver, and that this was something on a level that I had never even imagined. My mother in law was yelling at me to get out there and just go for it. So, I did… an hour after I probably should have.

Finally, we arrived at the location for the photo shoot. At this point we are already over an hour late for our very first shoot and Nina has still not seen Cassidy’s hair.

I dropped off my mother in law and daughter at the door to rush and find a place to park. After a mini panic attack or two, I finally found a parking garage. I had never even heard of parking being that expensive, let alone my version of valet parking, which is customary in The City. At this point of frustration, I didn’t even care anymore. I was a ball of nerves and anxiety was flowing out of my ears. I go to find Cassidy and my mother in law. We walk in to greet a Nina. Immediately she realizes that Cassidy’s hair is cut. The look on her face was priceless. Luckily Nina was incredibly understanding and immediately took charge of the situation.

Not only was I late, but I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen, and for a mother, that is a scary feeling. This was our very first experience at an actual photo shoot. This is the first time that I had ever even seen anything like this. It was such an amazing feeling to watch my little girl on set. Nina had fixed the hair and I no longer felt as anxious. The confidence and charisma that Cassidy displayed left me in awe, and finally, at ease. It was like none of the other things mattered anymore. Here she was, in New York City, getting the opportunity to look her dreams in the eye. For as long as I can remember, she has never let anything stand in her way, and this was no different.

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Afterwards, we had two hours until our appointment to look at the agency’s contract. At the insistence of Cassidy we took a taxi. She had never been in one before and was excited to get the opportunity to see the city. To her, she was in a brand new world with unlimited possibilities. The stress was so far away from her world of innocence and wonder that it was refreshing; it was even invigorating. We headed to grab lunch at a little cafe near the agency. Nina explained everything and we read the contract thoroughly together. She was already making me feel like a part of the family, which helped me to make the decision to sign.

At one point, I was looking out of the window and just staring, mesmerized by the busyness of the street below us and the huge buildings. I was in amazement that this was really happening to us. It did not even seem real at that moment.

After we signed the contract, we left the city and dropped my mother in law off in Pennsylvania. From there we went straight home. In only forty eight hours I had left my home in Oakland, Tennessee, commuted to New York City, survived it, and was on my way home again. There was so many things to think about.

Honestly, it was seeing how confident and ready Cassidy was, that gave me the courage to put myself and my fears aside and embrace this dream of hers.

Our Life Before

     Even though this whole experience officially began that day at Melissa’s, there is so much more that went in to that day. First, I think that it is important to get to know a little about Cassidy Eveler. If you ask anyone who knows her, she is definitely one of a kind. She has this personality that just exudes confidence, and a brand of innocence and kindness that is so rare in such a demanding industry that it really makes her unique. She has never met a stranger. As soon as you meet her, she seems to see the good in everyone. When she was younger, she would put on a “dinner and a show” for anyone who would watch. She would make us a PB&J and give us hand-written tickets. She would dim the lights and walk down the stairs with a swagger that will one day make Beyoncé do a double take. She would use a pink play microphone and belt out her songs while her friend Ella would back up sing and dance with her. She has never once shown an ounce of fear in front of a crowd. When she was nine she first sang in public at a local festival here in Oakland. She sang “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. Ironically, she never knew that only a few months later it would be her making the climb to New York City for her first fashion shoot… for Nordstrom none the less, but more on that later.

Her first pageant was the local county Cotton Festival. It was August 24th, 2013. I had no idea about beauty pageants, and I just happened to be at my friend Tiffany’s house talking to her about getting my son getting involved in karate. It was just a normal night of the simple life. Tiffany’s daughter had been doing pageants for a couple of years. After Cassidy saw Tiffany’s daughter get her dress prepared for the pageant the next day, she immediately had set her mind to the fact that this was something that she wanted to do. I was not so easily convinced. I had no experience with anything like pageants. I am a tomboy from Pennsylvania, and when I was her age I could not have cared any less about those kind of things. Tiffany was one of the pageant moms that was helping to decorate. She suggested that I accompany her that evening to the hall where the pageant was going to be held, “to just check it out.” We went that night. Tiffany showed her where to walk and what to do. I was hesitant about spending money on the late fee, plus the entry cost, and the dress/prep. When Tiffany offered to do her make up, we were able borrow a dress from another friend, and the pageant officials agreed to waive the late fee, there was really no reason to say no. I knew that she was beautiful, but what mother does not think that about their little girl? She was already nine, and most of these girls had been doing them for years, but if it made her happy, and it didn’t cost me an arm and leg, then why not? I didn’t even know that she had won when they called out her number. It was Tiffany who smacked me on the arm and said, “She won, your daughter just won!” After all, I had never been to a pageant before that night. It was a county wide contest, and it was not very common for a girl from Oakland to even win. In the span of twenty-four hours, she had entered her first pageant and became a beauty queen.

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Over the next couple of months, we did several more pageants, some she won and some she didn’t. At the time, it was all for fun, and I really never thought that it was anything but an extracurricular activity.

On the way home from one of the last pageants that we did, we heard an infomercial on the radio about an agency that was marketing for possible spots on the Disney Channel. As soon as Cassidy heard, “Does your kid want to be a Disney star?” she insisted on going. After a little bit of research, I realized that it was more or less a paid school, and that it was not something that we were wanting to get involved in at the time. I didn’t really think much more on the subject until Tiffany kept insisting that she had the features to be a model, and when I told my husband about it, he was also supportive.

I started to consider looking more into what this would mean for her.

She liked the pageants, but she really wanted to sing. Her dream was to be an entertainer. Over the next month, with the support of family and friends, the persistence of a child’s dream, and the opportunity to sign our first contract, we would be packing our bags and heading to the big apple. 

How and Where it all Started…

Okay, wow, where to begin! It’s been a crazy fifteen months. As I sit here and listen to music, I am reminiscing about everything that we have been through. What a perfect way to write… when you’re in a relaxed mood, just sitting back and taking a look at the bigger picture. One thing I will say is that this blog will be real, emotional, and exactly what I felt and how I am feeling. Nothing will be held back.

I’m a wife and a mother of two amazing children. I must say that I’ve been pretty blessed, even though I may sometimes take it all for granted.

Fifteen months ago I would have said that life was pretty good. I had what every family hopes for in life: a husband, Jason, two children, Carter and Cassidy- some of you may know them, and some of you may not- a house, friends, family, and all of the material necessities. It seemed like I was on an all natural high in my life. I would never have thought that I would be where I am today. We were the all American family, right? So why would I throw all of this up in the air to become a part of such a demanding industry… in New York City, thousands of miles away, no less.

Cassidy had been begging me for years to get to know and be a part of the entertainment industry. I, of course, am a protective mother and thought, “Entertainment? Heck no!” I put it off for a long time, and finally came around to say,” Okay, if this is what God has planned for me, then let’s do it.”

I was leery, nervous, and just about every emotion that a mother can feel when her nine year old tells her that she wants to become an entertainer. I can remember sitting in my friend Melissa’s kitchen, confiding to her about how scared I was about it. So what did I do? I told Cassidy every negative aspect of the industry. I explained about how we will be judged and how mean people will become  if and when you are successful. It was my last ditch effort to convince her that she can change her mind. Melissa knew that I was rambling on and on about it. Everyone definitely thought that I was crazy, and maybe they were right. All that I wanted to do was protect my baby from the world. She assured me that this is what she really wanted. So I agreed.

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Melissa agreed to take the pictures, although she is an amateur, I would say that her work is great. After all, that is what began all of this. We went to her computer that day and looked at those pictures, and I will never forget what she said to me, “She takes a good picture!” Little did I know that this was the beginning of her new career as a model. Since then, we have toured the world taking pictures of her. I thought what any mother would think, “Thanks for the compliment,” but it really meant that my life was about to change forever. To be continued…