Have you ever wondered what starting out in the model industry is like?
Kukua Williams is a new face to the industry. After being scouted at a festival back in May this year, she’s already done editorial shoots for Off Black magazine, British Girls magazine and the highly influential site models.com.
This month she is gearing up for her first show season at London Fashion Week, where she's hoping she will get booked for some even bigger shows. We spoke to her ahead of the most exciting event in the British fashion industry.
Since the age of 14, Kukua has always flirted with the idea of modelling but never tried to properly pursue it.
“I am from a single parent family so didn’t have much money growing up. My mum said if I ever wanted to pursue modelling, to wait until I am older and get scouted.
“I had kind of given up on the idea until May this year. I was at Love Saves the Day festival celebrating the end of uni and I got scouted. It was a surreal experience because it was the last thing I expected to happen.
“Timing wise it was perfect, because I had just finished uni and was still undecided on what I wanted to do after.”
Despite only being recently scouted as a model, Kukua has always closely followed fashion and grew up watching shows such as America’s Next Top Model.
Although body positivity campaigns have been a hot topic for inspiring women to love themselves, Kukua says that there is still a lot of work to be done for all body shapes and sizes to be fully accepted in a high fashion environment.
“Being in an industry where the main focus is how you look, is very intense and can really test your mental strength at times.
“I was naive to believe that recent campaigns featuring plus size models had changed the “size 0” body standard in the industry. Unfortunately this is one thing that I have found not to be true - I have heard stories from girls who have been told they need to lose weight to maintain certain dimensions.”
But there are plenty of exciting opportunities and experiences that come with working in the modelling industry. Kukua says for her, the best thing is the fast-paced nature of this type of work.
“In busy periods you are going from casting to casting and being fitted in high-end designer clothes.
“Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I’m in this position. Hopefully as my career progresses I’ll travel a lot more to even more exciting places.”
Kukua grew up in Huddersfield, but her new career path has introduced her to the busy city life of London. Although this is her biggest move so far, she is hoping there will be lots more travelling as her career progresses.
“I didn’t expect everything to happen as quickly as it did. When I finished university in Bath I moved all my stuff home and then had to be in London within a week - and I haven’t left since!
“I haven’t travelled abroad with the job yet, but Milan, New York and Paris are places that are often talked about.
"I would love to still be modelling full time 5 years from now but you have to be realistic. I really enjoy what I’m doing and you can make good money from it, but you have to keep in mind that there are very few models who make it to the top level.”
So, what are Kukua’s tips for anybody wanting to get into the modelling industry? Keep it simple, be open-minded and stay humble.
“If you want to become a model just keep it simple, they are looking to see you as natural as possible.
"Don’t be afraid of rejection as it is something you will have to get used to. Be open to change - if they want you to change your hair or appearance they usually know what they are talking about!
"And finally be humble. If you are liked for your personality it can get you a long way - you would rather have friends in the industry than enemies.”
You can follow Kukua on Instagram to see all her new ventures for yourself. @kukuawilliams
Tagged in Fashion Week