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Therese Bengtsson is apart of the new movement here in NYC of model-run-for-models businesses. As founder of ethical modeling agency Role Models Management, based out of NYC and LA, Therese is on the cutting edge of the new movement in fashion. No longer is the campaign just about a face; it’s about a lifestyle and a personality too. The face behind a brand must authentically represent the lifestyle a brand is trying to sell. This is where Role Models comes in. Representing talent such as Carolina Fontaneti, models are certainly beginning to understand this new wave as well.

Therese was happy to sit down and share the following on femininity, the future of the fashion industry, spreading positivity and more:

Tell me a bit about your personal background as a model and how it has affected your outlook on life and femininity.

I started modeling quite late in my life and I think that has had a big impact on how I look on the industry as a whole. I actually wanted to become a model so that I could “become someone” and through that use my influence to inspire people and make a difference, so the whole fashion and glamour part of modeling has never really been my thing. I’ve always been a tomboy growing up and truth be told – heels scare me. Finding myself on a runway at the age of 24 was definitely a whole new world.

Looking back, I know that modeling has changed me a lot; I’ve been forced to develop a new relationship to myself and my body. Modeling can be a ruthless world and it’s so important that you learn how to love yourself and your flaws or you will get eaten alive. I remember feeling like I had to be more feminine at first, but what I really learned is that I was actually a lot more feminine than I thought and that embracing your inner Goddess isn’t just about wearing heels and drown yourself in layers of makeup. You can wear sneakers and embrace the “natural” look and still be as feminine as ever. Modeling really taught me that. Our femininity isn’t so much about how we look to the world but how we feel we look to the world.

Why did you start your own agency?

When I got signed with an agency in New York and still lacked that “voice” to be able to make a difference, I knew I wanted to do something of my own. I knew that there must be other models out there that felt the same way, that wanted to be authentic in their work and to promote brands that they loved and believed in.

I started Role Models Management in early 2017 with my partner Val in LA and it turned out I was right; there are a lot of models out there that feel the same.

What are the major challenges you face in a day to day basis in running your own agency?

You deal with a lot of people, everything is very last minute and you never run out of things to do. Being a perfectionist I always want the website to look better and I probably have a dozen new ideas each week. That being said, it’s a lot of fun and I’ve already learned so much. I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for Role Models and our wide board of models!

Where do you see the fashion industry going in the next 10 years – your best guess?

Oh baby there’s a lot of fun to look forward to, let me tell you that! We’re already starting to see brands becoming more aware of their impact and the cruelty that often goes into the clothes we wear. A lot of brands are already actively making changes. Adidas is making sneakers out of ocean waste. Stella McCartney is developing a new kind of fabric; leather is being made of pineapple and mushroom. More and more brands are reusing old materials and giving new life to clothes that have already been made. We’re only going to see more of this progress as the awareness of the consumer grows. In my opinion, the brands that do not make efforts to change for the better will be left in the dark. It’s an exciting time to be part of fashion!

What is your agency’s philosophy? Why is this important to you on a personal level?

Our philosophy is to build and empower strong models who have the ability to be a positive influence in this world. We’re making our own army of Role Models. We also want everyone to feel like we’re in on something important, together, and that this is not a win-or-lose game. As long as we believe in and fight for a better tomorrow we’re all winners and that’s the philosophy that makes it so much fun to work these long hours every day. I’m so fortunate to be able to work with passionate, like-minded people and to see the world shift around us as we continue our work.

Who is your role model. Why?

I’ve had many role models in my life and they’re always changing, but right now I must say Cameron Russell. She is inspiring in how she uses her voice and you just know that she is so passionate about everything she does. She cares about people, she cares for our planet, and she has the courage to in a world of social pressure just be herself. To me, Cameron is the definition of a true role model.

How would you describe your personal style?

My personal style can be explained in 3 simple words – sneakers, black and denim. I currently live in San Francisco and I walk basically everywhere so sneakers are a given. I don’t have the patience in the morning to spend hours getting ready, so if I can throw something on that is comfortable and still look fairly chic, that is what I’ll do. The answer is usually black and denim.

Hey Change is your successful podcast which you only launched a few months ago. Please tell me a little bit about why you chose to branch off and host your own podcast.

I started Hey Change because I wanted to inspire people to be more curious and more willing to embrace change. I believe that a lot can be done in today’s world if we’re just a bit more open to new possibilities and also if we just ask the right questions. I’ve long dealt with my own difficulties with change and it was mindblowing to me the where you can find yourself if you’re just willing to let go of the old and give it a try. My aim with Hey Change is to interview people with new ideas about our society. As I learn all these new things, I can share them with my audience and together we can grow; Hey Change – Finding Happiness in New Realities.

Who is your target audience? What effect do you hope to have on your audience?

My target audience is anyone who wants to be inspired to try something new such as people who are curious about life and new adventures. Also those who want to get their boost of positivity in their life should tune in. I believe that we are surrounded by too many negative news sources in our world, and I don’t think it’s heading us into a better future. We need to stay optimistic and see possibilities over problems. Likewise, we need to be hungry for new knowledge and change.

Where can we download Hey Change! ?

You can download Hey Change in iTunes and find it in Soundcloud or you can go to the website – www.heychange.net

How do you take your coffee?

Strong, black and hot. I hate when it sits for too long and it’s starting to cool off, I want to drink it right away. Lately I’ve also started to rarely drink it with a bit of almond milk (maybe it’s the California lifestyle rubbing off on me).