Fascinating People…Meet Margaret Merritt, Director of THE AGENCY ARIZONA

When I was a little girl, after realizing I probably wasn’t going to marry royalty, I decided I wanted to be a model.  My friends and I would play dress-up and walk around the house like it was a catwalk, adorned from head to toe in our mom’s dresses and accessories, make-up smeared all over, convinced we were too glam for words.  Sound familiar? A lot of us had similar dreams, but took life’s path in a different direction.

There are, however, those divinely gifted fashionistas, who actually go on to become models. An even more select few however, blessed with vision and an incredible eye for the artistry of fashion, as well as a head for business, open a modeling agency. One here in Phoenix, pursued that path and has found great success and happiness.

Meet Margaret Merritt, Director of THE AGENCY ARIZONA, Phoenix’s premier modeling agency.  Originally from Dallas, Margaret began her career early, working at the Dallas Market Center. She explored her creative side by studying and performing with the Dallas Ballet and also earning a Bachelors Degree in Fine Arts. Later she became an agent for the Kathy Muller Agency in Hawaii, even scoring a couple of dates with Tom Selleck!  Eventually Margaret made the move to Phoenix. Once here, her experience led to a position with the Robert Black Agency, before joining Saks Fifth Avenue as Director of Fashion PR.  Finally, Margaret moved into the position she holds now, Director of THE AGENCY ARIZONA. Margaret also produces and styles shows for prominent clients including Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Westcor.

According to Brian Hill, Executive Director of Phoenix Fashion Week, “Margaret was the first agent who would work with Phoenix Fashion Week and take us seriously in the early days. Margaret has been a great supporter of Phoenix Fashion Week and a mentor to me. She’s taught me so much about the modeling world and helped us to create truly professional shows. She’s been a great friend”.

I caught up with Margaret via my new iphone. Here’s what we chatted about.

Q. Phoenix isn’t generally the first place you think of when talking about fashion. What was your biggest fear about opening your own agency here?

A. Well, I never planned on opening an agency here. It just fell into my lap…so I never had any fear about it.

Q. Can you give us some insight into what your day is like?

A. It’s like…multi tasking on steroids. Every day is different. It may include casting, event planning, bookings, placements, test shoots, checking job locations, doing market research, interviewing models, styling, meeting clients, planning projects, and watering plants. We’re always busy and it’s always fun. I travel a lot.  Our services include a full service production company and our clients and models can be in various locations.

Q. What makes you know that a shoot or show will be great?

A. Honestly, you never know. When you think it’s perfect, something happens …or it’s a nightmare going into it, but it ends up going off flawlessly. That’s show biz!

Q. What do you love most about what you do?  Hate most?

Merritt with The Agency Arizona models

A. I love building relationships with clients. There isn’t anything I hate about it. I love what I do.

Q. How do you determine who to rep?

A. It depends on what we need at the time, which division they’re right for.

Q. When looking to hire employees, what do you look for in terms of qualifications or skills?

A. We rarely need to hire anyone into a management position. New hires are almost always interns. They need basic computer skills, an understanding of programs like Word and Excel, social networking. They don’t need to have a strong understanding of the industry, they’ll learn as we go. A good head for business is great, and definitely, good communication skills. Interns move up, but it’s important that they understand that if they want a job with us, it’s going to start out with answering phones and running errands. Many of our interns have gone on to find great jobs in New York and Los Angeles.

Q. What should every model know? And never leave home without?

A. A GOOD ATTITUDE!  A project, wherever they are, will let us know in advance what will be provided and how they want the models to look when they arrive. Often, they will be expected to arrive with clean hair, no make-up and clean, unpolished nails, and stylists will create the desired look. Otherwise, we’ll be advised in advance. Models might want to bring their own nude thong and bras, a shoe bag with an array of shoes including day and evening styles in a variety of colors.

Q. What fashion trend would you like to see disappear forever?

A. 80”s mall hair.

Q What completely cracks you up?

A. Currently,…Honey Badger.

Thanks, Margaret.

You can contact Margaret Merritt at THE AGENCY ARIZONA, 4725 N. Scottsdale Rd, Suite #110 Scottsdale, AZ, 85251. 480-947-5588, www.theagencyaz.com

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Article by Liz Riley for Phoenix Fashion Week


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