Ulla models, founded in 1978, was Amsterdam’s first fashion agency. 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, brought it to heights it has never reached before.
“The fashion industry was a foreign concept to me, but I immediately had a vision of what I wanted”, Minnai states. His first decision as the new owner, was to get rid of the international board. He believes that focusing on local talent is far more rewarding than trying to push an international model in such a small market. “I honestly wouldn’t want to create competition within my own board for just a few more bookings”.
Being mother agent to all Ulla represented models, is not the only idea Minnai had for the agency. He believes in personal guidance. “These young boys and girls often need more time than one might think to go international. I don’t just throw them into the lion’s den. The bookings table 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 luck.”
Ulla Netherlands is located in what one could consider the Brooklyn of Amsterdam. The Belgium office, which opened in 2012, is soon moving from Brussels to Antwerp and will be housed in a Berlin-style warehouse. Some anticipatory ‘chess-moves’ of Minnai. Many thriving businesses have offices popularly located. Minnai finds this unnecessary. “The success of the agency isn’t based on a building. It depends fully on the team and I’m a very lucky person with mine. By moving the offices to industrial areas slowly developing into art districts, I have given them an inspiring work environment and have created space to grow.” And space to grow is needed. Not only in the literal sense, even more so in a future perspective. The two Ulla branches and sibling REBEL Management are a fact and the next step is already in preparation to be made in 2017.
Some final advice from the man behind the vision: “Run from people who make promises. In this industry there are no promises. The only one you can make is that you will do your absolute best.”