We recently interviewed Caralyn Mirand, a plus-size model and entrepreneur, who embodies the Inkredibly lifestyle with her successful image consulting business in Buffalo, NY. Below are her answers to questions about modeling, image consulting, and what it’s like to run her own business.
How did you get into modeling?
My modeling career began back at the end of high school. One night when I was supposed to be working on college applications, I saw something posted online about Tyra Banks’ Fiercely Real Model Search. I submitted a picture and went back to my application. It started as a sort of joke, but then I got a message asking for more pictures. In the end, I wound up both finishing my college application on time and becoming a finalist on the show, and the journey had begun.
I started my career while going to school full time at Clarkson University and upon graduation, I had a choice to make. I wanted to keep pursuing my passion for modeling, but I also wanted to move back to my hometown of Buffalo. I’m a hometown girl, born and raised, and I knew that while New York can be fun, it could never really be home.
In the end, I was able to do both. I travel for work, but my home base is still the city I grew up in and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m here to show that you don’t need to give up your hometown roots to be successful, confident, and to look and feel as beautiful as you are on the inside.
What kind of modeling do you prefer?
As a plus size model, I work as a commercial mode, which means that I do online e-commerce images, promotional pictures, catalog, print images (to be hung in stores), and campaigns.
Do you get to keep some of the items you model? What’s your favorite one?
I am actually asked this questions a lot! It makes me laugh because I very rarely get to keep the clothes! Once in awhile a company will send me a free item here or there after the shoot, but I rarely get to keep anything. Surprisingly enough, most of the clothes that I wear do not fit correctly and they have to be altered and pinned.
Do you still model in addition to running Buffalo Beautiful? If so, how do you split your time between the two?
Yes! I am constantly traveling back and forth between Buffalo and NYC on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Most of my modeling jobs are in NYC but I also travel to Philadelphia, Miami, LA, and Mexico for work. I never know where work will take me next! When I am gone for a work trip, I am usually gone only one or two nights at most. This gives me time and flexibility to work on Buffalo Beautiful when I am home. Every day and every week is different for me. I usually take my schedule on a week to week basis, then plan my time accordingly.
Anyone who has watched, for example, America’s Next Top Model, knows that competition is fierce and there is a huge pressure for these girls to stay extremely thin. How is that different in the plus size modeling industry?
No matter what category of the modeling or fashion industry we are talking about, it is all very competitive. Within plus size modeling, I still have to stay within certain measurements and size requirements just like straight size (thin) models do. Plus size modeling is more popular now more than ever, so there are more plus-size models than there have ever been. Competition is extremely fierce, just in a different way.
Would you say there is a healthier view of body image than in non plus size modeling?
Yes and no.
Yes, because we are selling clothes to the majority of women and there is more of a realistic expectation, rather than an idealistic expectation. Average size for women in America is a size 14. However, straight size models can take photos a lot easier than fuller figured models can. Plus size models need to be much more aware of their angles, their movements, and how they are posing in order to flatter our figures in the best possible way.
No, because we are still being told to lose weight, gain weight, dye or cut our hair, etc. We are still constantly having to be aware of our bodies, sometimes leading to insecurities. Constantly being judged, hired or fired based on your looks can wear on a person. I deal with this by reminding myself that this is a business, I am being hired to sell a product, and it does not determine my self worth.
There is a social trend now regarding body image and a lot of campaigning being done to change the socially acceptable body type. It was once curvy, then very thin, and now it seems like “fit” is the body type that is “in.” Obviously, not everyone will be able to conform to the latest beauty standards because every body is different.
How do you help your clients feel comfortable in their own skin and accept themselves despite all of the social pressures?
I typically work with my clients one-on-one to determine where their “pain points” or areas that I can help strengthen. I work with people of all walks of life and age ranges. My 70 year old female client is going to have different needs than my 23 year old male client, or my 14 year old girl client. We start by learning the ABC’s…. How to accentuate the positive, balance the figure, and camouflage the not so favorite parts of ourselves. Every client need is different, which makes it an exciting challenge because I get to create an action plan that will work for them.
Do you watch What Not to Wear? What do you think of it? Is your job anything like that?
Yes! I absolutely love that show! I’ve probably seen more episodes than I’m willing to admit 🙂
In some aspects, I would say that my job as an image consultant can very much be like that. I work with people and teach them the tools they need to shop for their body types. However, I am NOT in the makeover or makeunder business. My purpose is to inspire people to become the person they want to be, from the inside out. I genuinely love making people feel good about themselves and teaching them how to look their best. It’s not about changing the way someone looks. Instead, it’s about showing the person how to feel confident and beautiful in the skin they’re in.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
My favorite aspect of my job(s) is that every day is different. I get to travel and work with creative and inspiring people every day. I also enjoy the process of “before” meeting “after,” and watching doubt transform into confidence. I like being able to look back and see the emotional growth that’s occurred during the process, allowing each client’s unique brand of personal beauty to shine out from within.
On your website you call yourself a “hometown girl,” and that’s a big reason why you decided to base your business out of Buffalo, NY. Do you think you will ever expand your business to other cities?
Yes. I am born and raised in Buffalo, and my heart and family is here. I am very passionate about this city and the people in it. Buffalo is certainly on the rise now — more than ever. I actually have clients all over New York State. I am definitely willing to work with people outside of the Buffalo area to expand, just no plans yet!
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