Victoria’s Secret model and founder of LAPP the Brand, Leomie Anderson stopped by the ESSENCE Girls United Instagram channel to chat about her modeling career, working with Victoria’s Secret, and starting her own brand. Here’s what we learned:

How she got into the industry:

“I was 14-years-old and I was coming home from school and this guy came up to me and asked, “Have you ever considered doing modeling?” In my head I was thinking, stranger danger. [laughs] The next day he came back and gave me his business card to give to my mom, he was a professional scout. I still never called because it wasn’t something I wanted to beforehand. Three months later someone from the same agency came up to me. So I was thinking two people from the same agency, maybe it’s a sign and that’s how I ended up getting signed.”

Her thoughts on getting discovered:

“The story is different for everybody. I feel like in this day and age, there are so many ways you can get scouted. We have all these different platforms to be able to reach to people and show people who we are as well. Now is a great time to get into the industry and be known for more than just your face because there are so many different ways people can get to know you.”

Dealing with criticism in the modeling industry:

“Criticism and rejection is a really big part of the modeling industry and you learn from a very young age that it’s something that you’re going to deal with over and over again. You kind of develop a tough skin. I think that one of the things that helped me is I always understand when someone is coming from a place of constructive criticism because we sometimes need to hear tough things in order to grow. I started to learn how to differentiate people who actually care about me and are saying things out of a place of love as opposed to someone who doesn’t even know me, saying something about me. At the end of the day these people don’t necessarily know me enough to be able to effect my core. The opinion of a stranger is up to you if you want to take that in.”

” Just remember you can always get better and the only person you’re in competition with is yourself.” – Leomie Anderson

Working with Victoria’s Secret:

“I love working with Victoria’s Secret, it’s been a blast. They are one of the few clients that I have had that pushed me and told me to be myself. They figure out ways to use the best parts of my personality to represent the brand. There are so many brands who wouldn’t want to work with someone who is so vocal or has such a big personality, and it’s not say these girls who work with big brands aren’t activist. But, to work with a brand who encourages all the girls to own their personalities, it’s been very refreshing. I’ve been modeling for 12 years and they’re one of the few brands that I’ve worked with that have allowed me to express and be true to myself. I can be Leomie the model, the activist, the voice and I don’t have to compartmentalize Leomie, the model.

On her company, LAPP The Brand:

“I started LAPP in 2016, and it was inspired by a blog post that I wrote on my own person blog which was about consent and the pressure young girls are under to send explicit images of themselves. When I wrote this post, it was covered by everybody, even ESSENCE and I was really surprised because I was speaking about something that I was really passionate about and I realized that I actually had a voice that people could listen to. It was a feeling that I enjoyed but, I wanted other women to feel that way. I wanted to create my own platform, and that was the premise of LAPP. A place where women can go to share stories.”

How she deals with expectations:

“I think that it takes getting use to and every time that you start something new, you start back from square one because of course, it’s a new set of people and a new perspective that people are seeing you as. And you want to live up to your own personal expectations as well as the outside. I think that it’s always going to be a journey especially when you’re so passionate about something, you want everyone to like it, you want it to do well. I am not going to say, “don’t worry about what people think,” that’s fake. Because you’re always going to think about what other people think when you’re putting out something. Just remember you can always get better and the only person you’re in competition with is yourself.”