Hard work makes modeling dreams come true

Hailey Cartier travels the world in her modeling career - SUBMITTED
Hailey Cartier travels the world in her modeling career
— image credit: SUBMITTED

Spending lazy days at the lake, relaxing with friends – those items top the list of things to do during the summer for most teenagers. For Hailey Cartier, spending a carefree summer in the Kootenays was a rare treat this year.

For the past three years, the now 17-year-old student from Cranbrook has been traveling halfway around the world in her time off, working as a model in Asia. Even if she was not busy, she had to pay attention to her activities. Cartier recalls a vacation spent in Mexico with her family with her sitting in the shade, slapping on layers of sunscreen and pulling a floppy hat into her face for extra protection – as she was waiting for a call for another modeling job.

“In Asia, they like fair skinned girls and also when we’re modeling clothes, they don’t like tan lines,” Cartier explains her extra caution. Despite the sacrifices that come with the job, Cartier does not regret her choice. She admits that she always wanted to be a model, but it took some hard work to get there.

Cartier’s first try did not get her very far. At a talent scouting event in Cranbrook, the excited young girl was told she could not be a model, but might have a chance in the acting field. She took that opportunity and shot a series of commercials, including one for the Calgary non-profit group Mustard Seed when she was in Grade 5.

Cartier’s next chance came when her parents had a chance meeting with a modeling agent while on a spring break trip. The family sent some pictures of Hailey with the agent and she was accepted by the agency. At age 14, Cartier and her mother Brenda flew to Asia for the first time, not sure what to expect, but ready to explore. They were in for a culture shock.

“I thought that it was going to be so glamorous,” Hailey Cartier remembers. Reality set in quickly for the pair from Cranbrook. They lived in a small apartment, each day the models were crammed into a van and shuttled from one casting to another and they needed translators to communicate. The Cartiers, however, had a great time, drinking in the experiences.

Before leaving Canada, the modeling agency in Vancouver had prepared Hailey Cartier to not expect too much from this trip, pointing out this was meant to be mainly a chance for her to learn things and meet some people. The trip turned out to be a professional success as well, as Cartier got to be on three magazine covers, a catalogue cover and participated in more than a dozen more shoots.

Since then, she has been back to Asia regularly, working in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and even Mainland China. Cartier has been in countless magazines, live runway shows and even television commercials. Her last big campaign included photographs and a television campaign for the internationally renown hair product line of Vidal Sassoon.

One of the requirements to get the job was that Cartier had to cut off her long locks for an ultra-modern hairstyle. While it was a sacrifice, the young model made the best of it. “I brought my hair, my ponytail, back to Canada and gave it to the cancer society,” she states.

Models always have to be ready for the next call, the next job, so they have to stay in shape. This means eating right and working out. For Cartier it is simply part of a healthy lifestyle to have the energy to do  this demanding job.

Her experience over the past years has shown Cartier this is still a career she wants to pursue in the future; she enjoys being in front of a camera, seeing the world and meeting new people. For this year, however, her main focus is Grade 12 and graduating from Mount Baker Secondary School in Cranbrook.

“I have missed a lot of school over the last three years,” Cartier admits. Nonetheless, she realizes the importance of education and with the help of teachers and counselors at Mount Baker and Parkland Middle School before that she has been able to stay ahead. “I always have to bring homework,” Cartier says.

“I definitely couldn’t do it without my family and friends,” Cartier emphasizes. When she first started modeling, she did not really tell anyone about it. Over time, she has found, people became quite interested and started asking questions. The reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. “I have a really good set of close friends and they’re so supportive,” Cartier states.

As her portfolio builds and she gains more and more experience, Cartier hopes to get more and more opportunities in the modeling world. She really likes Asia because of the friendly people and it being such a beautiful and sage place. Eventually, she would also like to work in Europe and North America. “My biggest goal is to do Victoria Secrets,” she admits. “The models are not just beautiful, they’re healthy, they know what they want to do and they’re very smart.”

For other young girls – especially from small towns – who have dreams of becoming a model she has this advice: “The one thing to watch out for is to go with a good and reputable agency and taking the time to check them out and make sure they have experience,” said Brenda Cartier. “It doesn’t matter where you come from. If you want to do something, you can do it. If you work hard enough and stick to your goal, it will come true.”

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