Modeling agency Azzurro in Helsinki is quiet in the morning. The owner of the agency Tomi Jäderholm is concentrated on studying new photos of Karina Minayeva. Karina, 17 started modeling already aged 13. The profession has been her dream ever since she was a little girl.
Azzurro has in their books 200 – 300 models depending a year. As the agency is specialized in finding models for all advertisers, they have in their lists models with different looks and profiles. Many differ from traditional or standard look that is expected from a Finn. The wishes from customers have changed over the year, the owner Tomi Jäderholm explains.
“When we started back in 1994, the classic Finnish look was still very much in demand. Nokia and their international success story changed a lot of things. Suddenly other international companies started to ask for international faces to use in the advertisements.”
Tomi Jäderholm says that now advertisement aimed at a Finnish audience has a more varied range of people. Food production company Felix received a lot of feedback, when its advertisement included a girl with African look expressing her feelings about being a Finn. On the other hand many advertisers don’t mind feedback, but want to represent multicultural and international ideals instead.
Cultural diversity and modeling
Karina was born in Crimea and moved to Finland as a child with her parents. Karina’s parents are half Ukrainian, half Russian. Karina herself grew up in Finland, and says that she cannot answer, when someone asks whether she is Russian.
“If someone asks if I am Russian or Ukrainian, I am lost. I go to school in Finland, but I speak Russian. I have lived in both Russian and Ukrainian cultures.”
Karina has received the odd comment on her Russian background. Some have said that a certain bold attitude is linked to being Russian. There are other stereotypes too, but Karina says that she has not been forced to justify her background, it has more been an asset.
“I switch very naturally between cultures, my ability to transform is a great advantage in modeling. Also under stress I am able to adjust maybe better than someone else”, Karina describes.
What is beauty?
Scandinavian look is fashionable now, says Tomi Jäderholm, but most important aspect is personality. Dealing with beauty every day, Jäderholm is still puzzled when it comes to the question who has the right to be beautiful in Finland.
“There are no qualifications for beauty. Often just the fact that you feel comfortable in your own skin makes you glow – and look beautiful.”
Model Karina says, that in order to get modeling jobs, it is best to be yourself.
“As a model it is good to have looks that are unique. Being a successful model means that people remember you. The client picks you, because you are different”, Karina says.