Name: Alyssa Ackerman
Claim To Fame: Ackerman is the founder of Booked ‘N Busy, a digital media platform offering millennial women g mind and money education. She has also been featured in a multi-page spread in Mordant magazine.
Alyssa Ackerman began modeling as a midwestern teenager. “I started when I was about 18 years old when I lived in Chicago,” she told HelloBeautiful. She enjoyed shooting with local photographers but she wasn’t convinced about her potential to get signed to a major agency.
Standing at slightly over five tall Ackerman didn’t see her frame reflected in those who rose to the top of the industry. “By the time I was about 20, I actually stopped because I didn’t have the confidence and I didn’t believe that I could actually get signed or book jobs due to my height or my body type,” she said.
She was unaware of the opportunities in the commercial and beauty sectors of the modeling world. “I just wasn’t really educated on the industry in itself, especially living in Chicago,” she continued. “There, there were opportunities to model it wasn’t as accessible as it is in places such as New York or Los Angeles. So I wasn’t entirely educated on the industry itself. All I knew was what I seen on America’s Next Top Model.”
Ackerman opted to give her pursuit another chance a few years later. “I ended up picking it back up when I was about 22 so about two years later,” she said. “I just loved being in front of the camera and creating. So I picked it back up and then when I picked it back up, I actually started booking jobs more so through Instagram and just word of mouth.” Getting paid work helped boost her confidence. “I started booking some pretty good jobs in Chicago. I eventually got signed to an agency.”
After a year she wanted to find out if she could compete on a larger scale. “When I was 23, I moved to New York to pursue my modeling career on top of entrepreneurship,” she said. “It was difficult when I left, I actually didn’t tell anyone I was leaving. It was very spontaneous and I just got up and I did it.” She didn’t even tell her mother about the unexpected choice. “I had just told my mom that I was going to visit my best friend for awhile. So a week turned into two weeks and two weeks turned into a month. And then the entire time she’s wondering, when am I coming home,” she recalled.
Ackerman moved to Elmhurst, Queens and commuted into Manhattan to seek representation and begin fundraising for her digital media platform Booked ‘N Busy. “I just started going HAM to build my portfolio. I went extremely hard to build my portfolio. I worked at a ton of odd jobs,” she said. Because she did not have outside financial support apart from her apartment which she put on AirBNB when she left, part-time jobs were necessary to sustain herself on the journey. She hopes the transparency of her site will inspire others to see they are not alone by working a 9-5 on their way to the top, and rethink their relationship to money. The company recently partnered with American Express. “I wish I knew that you still need a steady source of income while working as a model,” she said. “I feel like a lot of aspiring, not only models, but even just creatives in general, they, you know, we kind of have this idea that once I’m represented or once I book one big job, like I’m going to continue booking big jobs, or my agent is going to continue to go this hard for me and really don’t have to work anymore. But that’s definitely not the case. I’ve worked for huge brands like Nike, DevaCurl, Ulta, but a month later I’m not booked at all,” she revealed.
“I was honestly just finding myself and trying to find out where I fit in the professional world,” she said. “I had so many jobs.” Holding several management positions in the beauty service industry including stints at “European Wax Center,” “a beauty studio for eyebrows,” and a “hair salon,” helped her gain perspective that would be useful in her modeling career. “Those experiences prepared me,” she said, “All of my positions, more leadership roles, and it really helps me to not only think independently, but inspire and encourage other people around me and to be able to move quickly on my feet and to make decisions for myself.”
She made the decision to actively pursue finding an agent and it paid off. “2019, I finally was signed to EMG models,” she said. The accomplishment was a long time coming. “I built up my portfolio and I was submitting online. To be honest, I was submitting from agents, to agencies from July 2018. When I first moved here all the way up until May, 2019. I created like this master sheet of agents, every single agency in New York. And I would hunt the agents down on Instagram, on LinkedIn, on Facebook, word of mouth. I would find these women and men and I added them to this master spreadsheet. And I would email them like once a month, sometimes even twice a month. And I would just submit myself as much as possible. And so finally someone got back to me,” said Ackerman. “EMG finally took a chance with me in May (2019) and that’s when I was officially signed.”
She learned throughout the process that being added to an agency’s roster was just an invitation to work harder.
“I felt really aligned and I also felt relieved like, okay, this one chapter is now closed, but what’s next? Now another level of hard work is about to unfold.”