We had the good fortune of connecting with Vanessa Lawson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Vanessa, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When I started Porte Model and Talent Management Agency (PMTMA) I was currently working on a custom clothing brand that I started. I recruited models who had no representation but fit the inclusive and diverse look I was going for. After a couple of photo shoots I started to overhear a common conversation: the lack of representation in Minnesota for diverse models. The models I worked with were talented, dedicated, and uplifting towards their peers. They did not meet the height, and sometimes size, requirement but nevertheless they were very photogenic. I then started to realize that what was being said was true. There really weren’t, at this time, agencies that were truly driven by diversity and inclusion. I knew the potential that these models had and I wanted to help them along their journey. Thus, PMTMA was founded in December of 2018 to help develop and manage new and diverse talent.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Porte Model and Talent Management Agency (PMTMA) is a young, hungry company based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. PMTMA is focused on inclusion and diversity. Our primary purpose being to fill a gap in the entertainment industry while fostering fundamental growth in the newest and freshest faces of Twin Cities talent. Embracing all backgrounds, creeds, beliefs and people, Porte’s mission is to redefine the standard of beauty. PMTMA not only manages talent but also aims to educate aspiring talent and models, while developing their skills beyond what they thought possible.
Building an agency has not been easy. There have been a lot of bumps in the road but they came with valuable lessons that has only made PMTMA better. The best thing I have learned is to always get back up and keep moving forward when you are faced with a challenge that might cause a delay or knock you down for a moment. I always say to myself “it will grow and you will learn” when I am unsure about my “small” business and my abilities as a leader. I also think giving yourself grace to be human and make mistakes is also a great way to face your obstacles. Understanding you will not be able to make everyone happy and not everyone is going to like you or what you do, which is okay. Other people will also hold you to your past mistakes but they’re just as imperfect as we all are so do not sweat it and just continue to learn as you grow.
What I want people yo know about PMTMA is the mission of bringing more diversity and inclusion to the modeling and entertainment industry. PMTMA strongly believes that representation matters and seeing everyday people in ads and campaigns is good for businesses and our society as a whole.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I am not big on the night life but I am a foodie! I would recommend places like Side Chicks, Soul Bowl, The Breakfast Bar MN, Sammy’s Avenue Eatery, Pimento Jamaican Kitchen & Rum Bar. If they really wanted to check out a fun night light event I would recommend and Elevate Your Network event at the Exchange downtown Minneapolis to boost their network in MN. If they wanted to connect with more business entrepreneurs I would take them to “Camden town” in Minneapolis.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I definitely would not be where I am today without the help from multiple people along my journey. PMTMA is still working its way up but the foundation that was helped to be laid could not have been done without the mentorship and love from Kprecia Moore, Jabari Holloman, Lamar Ballinger, Houston White, Precious Wallace, Denise Garsinii, Clarke Sanders, Thomas Unise, Lisa Nghiem, Steffen Sharikov, Marqueze Parker, Marcus Miranda, and countless others. Nor the assistance from various models, parents of models, photographers, videographers, web designers, PRs, branding strategists, music producers, hair and makeup artists, runway coaches, friends, and family. Everything you’ve done to help push PMTMA forward has not gone unnoticed and I thank you for every bit of help you’ve given.
Clarke Sanders (PMTMA Logo) Photographers: Steffen Sharikov, Thomas Affolter, Lamar Ballinger, Mitchell Piepho