Diary of a supermodel: Francine James
Over the past few weeks, Pulse supermodel in the making Francine James has been setting Europe on fire, moving from city to city as she completes major assignments for numerous clients in the world's fashion capitals.
James continues to capture the attention of agents and clients, all of whom are convinced that she is the real deal - the next big thing in the world of international modelling.
Today, Flair takes a look in her diary as we follow her throughout Europe and bring you regular updates.
This week, we start at the beginning, when she arrived in Paris for the Fashion Collections earlier this year.
Paris - My Dream
As a young girl, it was always my dream to go to Paris. I never expected it to actually materialise - not even when Mr Cooper did a model search at my high school (Camperdown) and told me I could travel the world as a model.
I really wasn't so sure about modelling and it took some convincing to make me believe that it was a career option for me. I was always focused on school, study and church, and modelling seemed far-fetched from my day-to-day life.
Eventually, I entered Pulse's model search and won. I was chosen to shoot for the international travel magazine Suitcase, which was featuring Jamaica. I was on the cover and my family and I began to think that maybe modelling could work for me. Mr Cooper was absolutely sure and kept encouraging me. So did Romae and everyone at Pulse.
So, imagine my joy at being told earlier this year that Pulse was sending me to Paris to start an international career as a model. It was a mixture of nerves and joy, hoping for the best, but fearing the worst - that nobody would like me, or choose me for their brand. I knew I would soon find out.
It was very tough at first - bitterly cold, as I had arrived in the middle of winter. I spoke no French and I am not particularly outgoing. It was hard meeting all these new people from different cultures - always having to know what to say, how to react, how to smile and be courteous to everyone: stylists, casting directors, clients, photographers, bookers, everyone!
Romae would tell me that I had to be on point at all times. I could never know which of the individuals that I would meet would be the influential ones, the decision makers, the ones who would get me on the cover of Vogue. I had to be polite to everyone. Plus it's always good to be pleasant, to develop my personality, although my background was a sheltered one.
Now, in my travels through Europe, I have learnt to be self-sufficient as a 'new face' in a very competitive business. I have been lucky as I have been working constantly since I started in Europe. With no family or friends here, I only have the love and support of my agency, Pulse, as well as my family in Jamaica.
My family call and WhatsApp me constantly. Thanks also to my new family, which consists of my bookers here in Paris. They also encourage me. When I arrived in Paris, Rama Diakite, my Paris booker, told my agency Pulse "OMG, she is stunning; so beautiful!"
But let me go back to my first few days in Paris and the shows. I arrived late for the collections, as it took sometime to get everything together - work visa, airline bookings, etc. I missed some of the early castings and ended up being booked for a few shows towards the end of the week. These included Vanessa Seward and Olympia Letan. It was a madhouse trying to catch up, doing the whirlwind of auditions, as late as I was.
The competition I faced for jobs was frightening. Every girl at the auditions was tall and amazingly beautiful. Would I ever get chosen for jobs? My first two weeks were hard and frightful, but I survived. God has been my guide and, so far, he has pulled me through.
Next, it's on to Milan!