Apparel alumnae host model casting call at Portobello Road

Mariah Wellman

An open model casting call hosted at Portobello Road on Thursday, Sept. 5, brought together fashionable alumni, as well as other past and present ISU students, to scout models for upcoming events.

Talia Jensen, ISU alumna and owner of Portobello Road, was approached by two other alumnae of the apparel, merchandising and design program to host a model casting.

Kassaundra Kennerly, of Khaotic Radio Station, and Nekia Thomas, of Nekia Marie Online Boutique, both wanted to put together an open casting call for models in the Ames area and looked to Jensen to host the event.

“I came in to Portobello Road to shop, actually,” Kennerly said about her first visit to the boutique. “I really liked the layout; the clothes were cool, and they weren’t like the other clothes in town.”

Jensen said Portobello Road is not only a place to shop for unique clothing, handbags, accessories and gift items, it’s also a place that has potential to be something more.

“I feel like we had talked previously, and Kassaundra came by and asked if I wanted to host,” Jensen said of Kennerly’s inquiry about hosting the event.

Jensen said setting up the store for events is her favorite part of the business and that she likes creating the aesthetic and the atmosphere for people.

“Not everyone likes to shop and not everyone likes clothes, but events still bring people into the store to see what else I have to offer here,” Jensen said.

The purpose of the model casting call was to hire models for Thomas’ website, as well as a show Sept. 22.

“It’s called the Fashion Dollhouse Sip ‘n’ Show,” Thomas said. “It’s sort of a preview of my designs that I will be offering, as well as giving exposure to another entrepreneur, a graduate student from the university, who will be putting on a hair show to compliment my fashion show.”

Thomas started her website after graduating from Iowa State in May. “My boutique is more of an edgy sort of look,” Thomas said. “It’s a boutique for statement fashion, offering ready-to-wear clothing and pieces, as well as custom fashions and hand-made accessories. I also now do bow-ties for men that are made of 100-percent high-quality silk.”

When planning out the event, the women decided Jensen would stay up front to host and greet customers and potential models while Thomas would ask the potential models questions, complete the measurements and judge the walk, and Kennerly would take the headshots and assist Thomas with other tasks.

The casting process went quickly and the women tried to make sure the potential models were as relaxed as possible, in order to get the best results.

“When the girls came in we took a couple of headshots, and we also asked the girls who saw the flyer to submit an online form that included some basic information,” Kennerly said. “After the headshots, we had them do a little runway walk, strut their stuff a bit and strike a couple of poses. We tried to keep it fun so they wouldn’t get too nervous about it.”

Tyra Watson, junior in apparel, merchandising and design, came to the model casting on a whim. “I’ve never modeled before, but you have to start somewhere,” Watson said. “I’m going to have to learn how to strut my stuff, and I’m definitely crossing my fingers

The alumnae agreed they would all consider hosting an event like this in the future. “Since the turnout proved to be more than we all thought, and I met so many great girls and made awesome connections, I think the event was really a success,” Thomas said. “I would do it again in a heartbeat.”