Ulla models, founded in 1978, is Amsterdam’s longest-running fashion agency.
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Three decades later, current owner Claudio Minnai got the opportunity to take the reins and didn’t think twice. Other than the name, not much has remained the same since. Minnai revitalized the agency and brought it back to its glory days. Better yet, he brought it to heights it had never reached before.
“I was not familiar with the fashion industry at all, but I immediately envisioned how I wanted the agency to operate”, Minnai states.
His first decision as the new owner was to get rid of the international board, choosing instead to focus on pushing local talent to an international level. “I honestly didn’t want to create competition within my own board for just a few more bookings”.
Being mother agent to all Ulla-represented models was not the only idea Minnai had for the agency. He also invested in personal development. “These young boys and girls often need more guidance to work internationally than one might think. We don’t just throw them in at the deep end. The booking division develops our new faces by looking at who they are as an individual to give them their best shot at a successful career. We don’t leave anything up to chance.”
Ulla Netherlands recently relocated to what could be considered as ‘the Brooklyn of Amsterdam’. The Belgian office, which opened in 2012, will soon be moving from Brussels to Antwerp and will be housed in a Berlin-style warehouse. Some anticipatory ‘chess-moves’ of Minnai. Many thriving businesses have luxurious offices in popular areas. Minnai thinks this is unnecessary. “The success of an agency isn’t based on the building. It depends fully on the team and I’m very lucky to have such a great one. By moving the offices to industrial areas that are slowly developing into art districts, I have given them an inspiring work environment and created space to grow.”
And space to grow is needed. The two Ulla branches and their sibling, REBEL Management, are now firmly rooted and ready to keep growing in the years to come.
Some final advice from the man behind the vision: “Run from people who make many promises. In this industry there are no promises. The only one you can make is that you will do your absolute best.”