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Hotseat - Michelle Anushka Christian

829_hotseatWhere did you grow up?

I grew up in Philipsburg and attended St. Joseph School and later Milton Peters College. My fondest memories of growing up on the island are the times I got to join my mom on her bookings for pageants and weddings. The girls were older and I loved to see their transform with clothes, hairstyling and make-up. It was fascinating to me.

How did you get involved with modelling?

In high school, modelling got very popular on the island, and many modelling groups started forming. In 2006, I attended a catwalk workshop given by a woman who has a modelling agency in St. Kitts. After the workshop, she casted me to walk in the St. Kitts fashion-weekend; it was my first real show with real designers and makeup artists. I was the first plus-sized model they hired and it turned out to be a very encouraging experience so I decided to really pursue it.

What did you do after high school?

After high school at 17, I decided that I wanted to study Tourism and Leisure Management in Holland. I chose that study because I thought it was spot on with what the island was all about. I knew I could branch out in different directions when I was done. When I wasn't in school, I was modelling.

How did you build yourself as a model in a new country?

I was on my own and I did not know anyone. The first step was to build my portfolio. I reached out to photographers, mainly online, and sent them messages and a few good pictures I already had. I presented myself as I was – a plus-sized, dark skinned model from the Caribbean. More people gravitated to me that way, as they could see exactly what they were getting; I also filled a certain niche. When my portfolio was filled out, I sent it to casting agencies. With a portfolio in hand, casting agencies take you a lot more seriously. I was added to various databases and stated getting responses.

I got bookings to magazines, websites, promotions, boutiques and other stores. I would always be open-minded. It is better to not limit yourself too much, though I would not agree to erotic nudity for example. During shoots, I started helping out with hair and makeup. I had learned so much from my mom about both that it came quite naturally. I saw pretty quickly what the models would need, and more photographers started asking me to help during shoots in that department as well.

What advice do you have for other aspiring models?

Focus on positives. I've always been comfortable with my body. I'm different than other girls and I need to work with it. I'm really good at walking and posing for example. No matter your body type, if you are plus-sized, very tall, have natural hair or big boobs, you can always work it and fill a niche. There are many types of models. Just own it! I think it is also smart to lean more from people that are in other parts of the world. I met people from all over in Holland and saw how they did things. I learned a lot and gained confidence. If you can't go; open up your circle online.

What did you do after graduating?

After graduating in 2012, I decided to move back to St. Maarten. When you move back it is a bit like starting over; I had to get accustomed again. I got a few jobs at various places, but eventually started working more and more in my mother's salon. Due to my study, I learnt the business aspect and know a lot about make-up and hair due to my experience. It was only natural that eventually I'd be working full time with my mom at Michelle's Glamour Salon. Together, we made it a full service salon, with makeup, blowouts, eyelash extensions and other new services. We do pageants and weddings too.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love helping women feel good about the way they look. It is easier to feel good about yourself when you look good, it goes hand in hand. It is fun to see the transformation and teach people new things to make them feel and look great daily.

Tell us about the beauty blog you recently started.

I wanted to be earning money in other ways and to work for myself. I have friends who are stylists and give courses online, all through video. I thought that would be perfect. I can use my beauty experience and specialties, share them online and do personal consultations. On my beauty blog, I am focusing on makeup for businesswomen; I feel they often are not specifically catered to. My blog includes tips, newsletters, weekly videos and more. In 2015, I am launching a special course program that can be altered to specific needs and pricing. You can call me at 559-5054 to find out more.

What do you want to achieve in the future?

I ultimately hope to expand the salon and have several branches. I want my website to grow and be seen by an international community as a known figure in the beauty industry.

What three people (dead or alive) would you invite for dinner; what would you serve them?

I would invite my three grandparents, one of whom I never met and one who passed away when I was younger. I want to see what they are like and hear all their stories. I'd actually hope that my grandmother would cook for me; I remember that her soup and dumplings were amazing!