With the evolution of the modeling industry and the social media boom, models have come to occupy a new role—oftentimes inadvertently—that of influencers. The benefit of this is that it lets models showcase not only their looks, but to share their personality, who they are on a deeper level, and to also promote what they're passionate about. Canadian beauty and industry veteran Ashley Smouter is using her platform to champion causes dear to her heart, while leveraging her unique position to be a positive influence and light for her impressive following of nearly 600K. We joined Ashley via Zoom for a little Q&A...
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
A: I was born in Toronto and raised in Oakville, Ontario, Canada. After high school I went on to get a degree in psychology and sociology. I later took a break from modelling to get my bachelors of education, before returning to the fashion world full time.
Q: How did you get your start in the modeling industry? Did you always want to be a model?
A: I was scouted when I was quite young, 12 or 13 years old. I was excited about it, but my parents were cautious and thought I was a little too young to get started. I eventually signed with Elite Model Management in 2008 and have worked as a model full time since then.
I always loved fashion, and hoped one day I'd be a model. I am thankful I was given that opportunity.
Q: What do you consider to be your greatest asset, and what is most important for a model in the industry today?
A: My greatest asset is definitely my determination! Early in my career I was very fortunate to get a lot of bookings and positive feedback from clients, but as your career continues there can be obstacles to overcome. There's also a continuous line of new models coming in the door so you have to be very determined to see your goals and go get them. It's hard work.
Q: What sets you apart from other models?
A: I'm a chameleon! Fashion is always moving and I move with it. I've never been stuck in a single place, or with a narrow thought of who I am. I'm constantly moving and finding new ways to build my brand.
Q: What's your favorite part about your job?
A: There are a lot of things I love about modeling. It's such a creative space and sharing that space with other creative minds is lots of fun. Over the years I've learned so much from stylists, make up and hair artists, photographers, clients, and other team members. It's always evolving. I also really love the feeling of doing something "new" everyday. Whether it's a new location, new style (editorial, beauty, castings etc), a new team, there's quite a variety and change in each day. And of course seeing the world! I have traveled the world as a model and some places I've gone I'm not sure I would have if it wasn't for this job.
Q: Who is your dream client/what's your dream modeling job?
A: I would love to collaborate with a designer and create a line of faux fur coats. And then of course model them.
I'd also really love to work with Vogue. I did early on in my career when I was working in Milan. I would love to again.
Q: How do you feel about social media and the role it plays in modeling? Do you see it as a positive or negative?
A: In the beginning, I found it hard to navigate. It took me a minute to find my voice on the platform. It was also very different from what I was used to. I had to shoot my own content, instead of having photos taken of me. So it was a learning experience.
I like where we are now with social media. I think it gives models the opportunity to showcase more of their personalities, interests, and other skills. We can show our workouts, meals, fashion tips.
Q: How do you use your platform, for your career or otherwise?
A: I LOVE animals. Social media has given me a platform to speak to animal welfare and help with different animal and environmental charities. I am also vegan. I spent time (especially during quarantine) posting different vegan recipes. I've received a lot of positive feedback from my followers who may have otherwise not even considered a vegan meal.
Q: Is there anything specific you want to teach or promote to younger models or even other people?
A: Faith in yourself! It can be a challenging road sometimes, but being optimistic and having faith in yourself, even if others don't, ALWAYS pays off.
Q: What are your next career moves or goals?
A: I am launching a YouTube channel! It's going to launch in mid-December. Lots of fun stuff on there that I'll post on my Instagram.