The Woman Behind Phantom Models

The Woman Behind Phantom Models


The eponymous name in model management in Singapore, Phantom Models, has been the leading modelling agency in Singapore since its inception in 1993. The face behind the name is none other than Esther Lim, an ex-model herself, whose agency boasts models, talents and artistes, men, women and children. It was a no-brainer why Vanilla Luxury chose to work with Phantom Models for our very first fashion shoot for the magazine.

We sat down with Esther to better understand the passions and driving force behind this unique business and some key points to bear in mind in order to survive in a demanding industry like fashion.

Vanilla Luxury: It’s been 22 years, wow! How did it all start?

Esther Lim: It all started when I was a model at the age of 14. I did several TVCs for McDonalds, KFC, Ginvera shampoo, Yakult, Shiseido, Thomas Cook Mastercard and many more and the passion for modelling was born from these experiences.

What are your criteria for picking models and talents, who essentially, are representing your brand?

There are several types of modeling categories and each category has different requirements. The 5 modeling categories are:

Runway / Fashion Models: Most models on the catwalk are at least 5'8 and above. Men are mostly between 5'11 and 6'2.

Commercial / Print Models: Most commercial female models are at least 5’6 and above, but a beautiful face coupled with a great personality are the most important features for commercial models.

Promotional Models: Models who are able to interact directly with clients. They are generally attractive with likable personalities that help promote their brand.

Kids: Kids of all ages are welcome to model. If a child has a great smile, a great personality and is not shy and likes to have his or her picture taken, then all the better.

Real People: Talents who have a more "real person" look or even a "character" look.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions in the modelling industry?

Most people think modelling means you have to be tall and skinny, but there are other types of models - non-runway - who model for print, promotional ads and are spokesmodels.

What are some of your aspirations for your models and talents?

I think there are 5 main points;

Professionalism: The key to successfully modeling is the mindset. Modeling is so much more than physical appearances. Professional models are the ones who know how to work with the camera; they are the individuals who need little direction and throw solid poses, one after another. It is a skill that can be mastered.

Confidence: The key factor in a model is their ability to convey confidence through their poses and facial expressions. A model that is poised and assertive rarely has to ask “Ok, where do I put my hand now?” “How do I look?” “Is my hair ok?” Confidence leads to lack of inhibitions and that translates into solid pictures. Even if someone is inexperienced hang-ups and reservation rarely result in quality poses. It’s important to let go of the mindset of a beginner. A model might argue that they aren’t sure what their angles are, or how they look most flattering. But these exact thoughts are what keep models from truly experimenting and finding these angles. Further, confidence will override any sort of lack of experience.

Experience: Experience is key and is inextricably linked with the confidence a model brings to the table. Practice day in and day out to master the craft. Watching YouTube videos, practicing in front of the bedroom mirror and find pro models willing to help out are great places to start.

A good working attitude and personality: When clients have a few models to choose from, the majority of the time they will pick the models easiest to work with. Models that are cool, calm, friendly and easy going who can take instructions and communicate well with clients . A pretty face will only get you a foot in the door. Talk to the client to get a feel of their personality and what they need.

Has social media changed the way models are hired? Does a model’s social media influence increase their booking success rate?

Yes, definitely. It is a great way for branding themselves - to become known.

What advice do you have for fellow female entrepreneurs?

A successful business is when you can generate value to your customers. There are 4 key essentials one needs to possess in this demanding industry:

Patience: When things are not going well you need to give yourself the patience to shift and adapt and find an alternative solution.

Perseverance: Keeping an open mind, you give yourself the flexibility to find solutions in places you might overlook.

Passion: Having the passion and believe and enjoy what you do. Being disciplined and focus on what matters.

Continuously setting goals: You will face a lot of hurdles where you will overcome some and trip on others. You will learn lessons from being defeated and gain confidence from victories and through it all you work hard, compete and stick with it.

Contributor: Vanilla Luxury Editorial Team