“WHEN RALPH LAUREN WAS TALKING TO ME…”: LOCAL CHILD MODEL SHARES AN INSIDE LOOK INTO INDUSTRY
Originally published August 15, 2016.
You may recognize her from the over-sized posters hanging around Target or the “Are You There” Verizon commercial she’s featured in but Violet Knobel is best known for being a kind honor roll student. Some kids spent the summer with sand between their toes. Area resident Violet Knobel did that as well as stand and pose for many of the top fashion brands in the world.
“After two years of her asking us, she got to an age where my husband Tommy and I spoke about driving around in circles to after-school activities or doing what she really wanted which was taking her to New York to try modeling,” said Melanie Knobel, former model and founder of Asbury Park media firm Knobelwoman. “We signed with the Wilhelmina agency and her career kind of began blowing up very quickly – all, ironically, while I tried preparing her for lots of rejection. We never thought it was going to become what it has.”
Violet Knobel immediately booked her first job, a fashion show for Oscar de la Renta, and after her commanding ‘2010-style’ runway strut, her mom says she knew she was in trouble. Soon she was part of seasonal campaigns for J.Crew, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Gap among many, many others and her parents found themselves driving her into New York City five days a week. In 2014, ABC News named her one of the “next generation of supermodels.”
“My favorite job was a video for Converse because we got to draw on the sneakers and there was a confetti cannon and a swing on the set,” said the beautifully extroverted Violet Knobel. “I love working with the photographer Lee Clower because he shows all of us how he uses the cameras and explains the lighting. He teaches us while we are working.”
Over the past four years, this mini Christie Brinkley – in fact, Violet Knobel met the timeless blonde modeling icon a handful of times – has worked with Alicia Keys, Sir Paul McCartney and Jessica Alba. She’s gotten advice from Ralph Lauren personally and been in architectural landmarks most people dream of. She can identify by touch the difference between couture clothing and ready-to-wear.
But her biggest takeaway has been a priceless look inside the multi-billion dollar fashion and entertainment industries.
“It’s really cool to see everything that goes into making a poster or ad campaign,” said Violet Knobel, who points out she could not have done this without the support of all her teachers. “I could go to college to be a set designer, photographer, producer or director. Before I started doing this I didn’t know those types of jobs existed. Also, I’ve gotten to meet people from around the world and learn about different cultures and eat new food. I tried smoked salmon for the first time and a Brooklyn friend’s grandmother made a Russian dessert for us that I loved.”
Overall, the early exposure to a world beyond the Jersey Shore has been the most gratifying part for this seventh grader’s parents. They are extremely proud of the way she approaches each audition and how considerate she is to everyone. But both parents stress no one should get their child involved in modeling for financial gain.
“Parents think this is an easy way to pay for college but that’s not how it is at all,” said Melanie Knobel. “For a full day’s work the pay is anywhere from $500 to $1500 before the agent’s cut and taxes. That doesn’t include the gas and toll expenses for every audition and sometimes there are four auditions for one job; imagine walking into a big room with 100 other kids trying for one job. Then, if she does get the job, it’s driving in for fittings and meetings. There are days that I’m about to get on the parkway and think ‘Should I go south and spend $50 in Atlantic City or should we go to New York for the audition?’ The gamble is similar.”
For those interested in following in Violet Knobel’s footsteps, finding a legitimate agency to work with should not cost you anything. Her mom took the photos with an iPhone that they initially submitted to find an agent.
“You don’t need $1000 worth of photos when you start out,” said Violet Knobel. “I was with my agent one day while she was looking through new submissions and she told me that people can’t send in selfies but a iPhone photo in outdoor lighting with a simple background is totally fine. Good agents don’t want fancy, they just want nice. And if an agent calls you to meet, you want to feel comfortable with them. We met with a bunch of agents before choosing Teri at Wilhelmina.”
What’s next for Violet Knobel? More photo shoots, commercials, scenes in the upcoming Netflix film “Little Boxes” and a starring role in seventh grade.
“The only thing I do to prepare for a job is brush my hair,” she said laughing. “Also, talking to my mom keeps me calm.”
This unique moment is ultimately a labor of love for her fantastic family, especially her super-supportive brothers, Thomas and Campbell.
“Sometimes I think it’s all a dream,” said Violet Knobel. “I know I’m lucky to be a part of this now but what I really want to do when I get older is work in the medical industry as a prosthetics engineer to help people.”
You can’t get more beautiful than that.
Visit Violet’s website and style blog at violetknobel.com.