Caribbean-born Shaw Bernard, CEO of STRUT Models

Orlande Fleury interviews Trinidadian CEO Shaw Bernard for Caribbean Life. Here are excerpts.

In our commitment to promoting and supporting the diverse work of successful Caribbean individuals who thrive on the business and entrepreneurial spectrum. We were able to interview Caribbean-born Shaw Bernard. Shaw Bernard is a Chief Executive Officer, runway coach and mentor. In addition, Shaw is a mother, activist and founder of a successful boutique modeling agency called STRUT Models. Located at 53 Bridge Street, Brooklyn, New York 11201. The modeling agency is made up of passionate and highly experienced industry professionals who are committed to providing their models with a personalized style of exposure and success. STRUT Models prides itself on providing quality service and offering high caliber talent to its clients.  

Shaw was born in Trinidad and Tobago and moved to the United States at the age of 14.  She is a former model with 20 years of experience in the fashion industry, Shaw has made it her mission to promote diversity, individuality, and inclusivity in the modeling business. Although historically and politically, fashion designers, photographers and clients despise the idea of ​​hiring more black models. Diversity and inclusivity have therefore always been an issue in the fashion industry.  However, Shaw didn’t let these adversities deter her from her desire to conquer and influence the fashion industry. She started modeling in her early 20s and has modeled for brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Jovani Fashions, Ellery and more. After two decades of modeling experience and garnered astronomical success, Shaw has decided to start her own modeling agency. Her drive and motivation to start the agency stems from the lack of diversity in the modeling world.

 Shawn stated, “My first introduction to the modeling industry was not pleasant. When I started, I experienced extreme racism and it was a time when modeling agencies would only sign one black model. Therefore, there weren’t as many employment opportunities for black models. In addition, clients of the agency would specifically say that they would not hire black models. As a result, agencies will sign the 1 token black girl.  Racism and lack of diversity in the modeling industry are rampant. I always say that I could have had more success as a model, work with more brands and appear in more fashion shows. If there was more acceptance of black models in the beginning of my stage of modeling. However, we are now in the age of diversity and many industries have made strides towards inclusion. I think more changes are needed and I am open to having conversations that will bring about change in the modeling industry.”

“Therefore, I am dedicated to promoting STRUT Models as a pioneer for diversity in the industry. Also, I think it is important to have people of color in decision-making positions.”  

According to Shaw, the inception of STRUT Models began in April 2013. The agency represents a wide spectrum of talent such as Black, White, Indian, etc. Moreover, it has evolved over the past 9 years, starting as a modeling school, a mother agency and now a full-service booking agency. STRUT Models is the only agency in New York City that is 100% owned by women and black people of Caribbean heritage. [. . .]

Shaw has a deep passion for the fashion industry and is pushing to introduce the next generation of models to the fashion industry. In the past 9 years Shaw has been instrumental in finding, developing, and managing the careers of aspiring models. In addition to helping them launch their careers. In one year as a booking agency, STRUT Models now represents over 100 models nationally and works with top brands and casting directors. [. . .]

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