Good talked to Milkshake Models founder Keelan Bowkett – a total powerhouse and girl boss, who set up her own modeling agency that challenges beauty stereotypes and celebrates Kiwis – all shapes and sizes – regardless of the traditional modeling status quo. The latest campaign Bowkett’s ‘anti-agency’ has launched is the Bonds Orginals campaign, with women of all shapes and sizes donning the simple, yet sophisticated collection in their own, unique way.
Interview Natalie Cyra
What inspired you to start Milkshake modeling agency, challenging beauty stereotypes and celebrating Kiwis all shapes and sizes, regardless of the traditional modeling status quo?
I was inspired to start Milkshake because at the time I felt our agencies didn’t represent how beautiful and diverse of a country we are, I wanted to create an agency that reflected us and the beauty I see every day. I was also inspired by some of the agency’s overseas in London and New York that had already opened with a similar vibe of representing real people, creatives, influencers and people from all types of backgrounds. I just thought we needed something like that!
Where do you think society and the industry is with changing its views and attitudes to female body perceptions and image? Are we heading in a positive direction or is there still a lot of work to be done?
I’m a bit of an optimist by nature, so I definitely see us heading in a positive direction. In saying that, I think there is still lots of work that can be done. I think New Zealand as a society, we are pretty open minded and are ready to see more than what we see in our media at the moment. As an industry (and companies), we need to realise people want to see more relatable representation in our advertising.
Furthermore, what is your stance on where society is with gender equality?
When I first started Milkshake Models, I definitely felt like that there weren’t many women in business that I could look up to or aspire to be like. I guess that’s another reason why I started the agency, in hopes that maybe there is another young half-cast Maori girl out there with this weird idea that maybe in some small way could make the world a little bit better – that she can do it – and she can be kind while she does it. I hate the mentality that women in business are these hard-asses who will stomp on anyone to get to the top. Cool for those woman, but I just am just a little tired of that idea. It’s cool to be kind!
There are more and more ‘girl bosses’ out there changing the traditional business model – how exciting is this for you?
So exciting! The future is female honeys!
Who is your personal inspiration in the industry?
The people that inspire me the most are honestly around me. I’m pretty lucky to be surrounded by an incredible bunch of creative, kind, genuine and incredibly talented females and males. They are constantly inspiring me to be the best I can be. And I only hope that I do the same for someone else!