Covid-19 suffocates beauty industry


AS A result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the beauty modelling business has become expensive to sustain and it’s becoming even harder for aspiring local models to launch their careers.
Director of modelling agency Size4, Wilbert Rukato, said while in the past modelling agencies would scout and sign models on the spot without asking them to pay anything, they now have to fund their own photo shoots, pay
for modelling training, Z-cards and even do self-promotion, especially on social media.

“Sadly because there are fewer modelling job guarantees on the market, any local models considering entering the industry must be prepared to sponsor themselves, especially at the very start because without all the necessary
modelling tools, entry into the industry is virtually impossible,” Rukato said.

“Of course some established agencies still sign models on a whim but that privilege is now mostly reserved for models with the undeniable potential to conquer the international scene where modelling is still vibrant
and it’s important to note that access to the world stage is no longer a major issue for the deserving.”

Rukato said the Covid-19 pandemic worsened the industry’s vibrancy, which was already suffering.

“The modelling industry was already going through a bad patch prior to the Covid-19 pandemic travel restrictions and everything that came with it.

“During the height of the pandemic we all switched to doing business virtually and the industry slowed down

According to Rukato, 2020 has been a wasted year in the modelling industry.

“There have been no major modelling events in 2020, no major advertising campaigns, big events such as the Castle Tankard Fashion Show and OK Grand Challenge or even the various agricultural showcases.

“These are events where models regularly paraded their talent. Various fashion brands did not take place and model agencies and local models have had to consider sourcing income from other business ventures while exploring ways to stay afloat.”

Rukato said the Covid-19 pandemic had brought about a new normal which is costly to the already financially struggling local models.

“Versatility and doing business digitally has become the new normal in line with current trends and these factors, including what is already known, that the modelling industry is a very niche industry.

“Models are not signed based on looks alone, a model has to be very photogenic, have proper body dimensions, be healthy and fit, have training and grooming and most importantly look good on visuals such as Z-cards and

“All of the above attract inescapable costs and sadly a lot of models are not sufficiently funded to take care of these,” he said.

The Size4 Modelling Agency founder and director is appealing to the government and the corporate world to intervene to keep the industry afloat.

“All local model agencies are essentially self-funded entities and the road often gets hard, especially when there are no modelling jobs going around.

“To make matters worse, while agencies in Zimbabwe always provide models to national pageants, agencies are
never paid for this very important service as happens in developed countries, even if they come up with a winning model.

“Countries such as Singapore thrive on events and tourism and the government there is deep in partnership with communities and business and that formula works well there,” Rukato said.

Rukato said the local modelling industry is sustained by passion.

“Often times, agency heads  run their entities purely based on their love and passion for the industry but this business model is not sustainable especially when one has no other avenues of income generation.

“Owing to this reason, agencies in Zimbabwe and other African countries ask the models to self-fund their projects from the initial stage while the agency takes care of model management, guidance and mentoring. So essentially, a model that cannot self-fund herself or himself is likely to be doomed.”

Though the future looks gloomy, Rukato is hopeful 2021 will be better.

“Hopefully 2021 will bring better fortunes, but as of now the cost of doing business is high yet we remain inspired, still encourage new models to follow their dreams but taking into account all the costs and changes that have taken place.

“Already there are brand new flagship international pageants on the horizon, new brands putting out feelers for models. The 6future is not exactly bleak.”

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