Ones To Watch; Cairo Dwek
Many millions of people get to appreciate the work of Patrick Demarchelier, far fewer get to meet him, and far fewer still get to be shot by him. So it's incredibly impressive that Cairo Dwek, the LA native model, has already been shot by the famous photographer and having only modeled professionally for one year. This week we had the chance to catch up with Cairo and get to know the person behind such an incredible start in an industry famous for its fierce competition.
What inspired your career in modelling?
Both my mom and my grandma were models so that definitely influenced me; this also meant that modelling as a career path was something I was aware of and very keen on pursuing from a very early age.
However, in terms of actually coming into modelling, I was scouted at high school.
How many years have you been modelling?
I’m just now coming into my second year of modelling, I’ve only been doing it full time for around a year because I wanted to finish high school before I really dove in - in fact I was also at USC for a semester doing psychology before things really took off!
You were recently shot by the famous Patrick Demarchelier, that must have been an incredible experience
Yeah, it was amazing, definitely such an exciting experience. I felt so honoured to be able to shoot with such an established photographer and incredible team. And I was really happy with all the photos I got, it for sure helped my portfolio!
While I’ve had a lot of really exciting projects - this was definitely the highlight of my career so far.
Although regarding other recent projects, I just walked for Alice and Olivia in their show, that was really special. I was fortunate enough to meet the designer and stylist - I got on really well with the stylist so we’re planning on working together in the near future; it’s nice to see how everything builds!
As is well known, the modelling industry is fiercely competitive, what would you say are the most challenging parts of being a model?
Perhaps the hardest part is not really having control of so much of your career. For instance, some weeks can be incredibly busy - you can barely get a moment to yourself. Whereas other weeks can be more of a lull and you can have absolutely nothing on the chart.
I find the lack of consistency difficult. Even in school, I was such a workaholic, I loved being busy all the time, that’s really important to me. I tend to get down on myself when there are weeks without anything in the books and it seems like there’s no interest, it’s during those times you start to wonder ‘what am I doing wrong?’ - you know those sort of thoughts just start to build, which can be hard at the time, so you need to stay motivated.
Social media now plays a very important part in the fashion industry and has a strong presence on platforms like Instagram are crucial, what would you say is key to developing a personal brand?
I’d say that I’m still trying to discover that personal brand myself. I wouldn’t say that my Instagram is a direct reflection of who I am. For instance, if you looked at my Instagram you’d probably see me as quite self-centred, and I’d like to think I’m not a very self-centred person in reality! Having said that, being a model is very aesthetic driven and that’s what your followers want to see. They want to know what you’re up to, what you’re doing, etc. So you do have to post content that’s directly related to you and that, ultimately, is photos of me.
But if I had an Instagram and I wasn’t modelling, I’d definitely have more nature photos - or photos of my dogs and what not!
Do you have an finsta for that?
I used to, but to be honest if something funny happens in my life, then I’d rather individually message my friends about it instead of posting on a platform - it’s way more personal. Posting something on a finsta is so general.
Do you have a particular beauty routine?
I do take care of my skin a lot. I don’t use any fun skincare brands or anything though!
But I am pretty religious about my skin routine - I always wear concealer and typically wear mascara, but concealer is my saviour!
Where would you hope to be in the 5 years?
My goal would be to be doing something like Victoria’s Secret, which is a goal of a lot of new and young models, but it’s definitely such an aspiration of mine and something I’ve wanted since I was thirteen - it was what made me want to start modelling.
In fact in order to progress my career, I’ll be moving to New York in August so hopefully that will catapult my modelling - the sorts of brands associated with Victoria’s Secret are all based in NY so it’ll be good to be in the area and on their radar. But of course it’s not just about the location, I’ll also be focusing on working out a lot and eating right.
Would you have any advice for any aspiring models?
Start when you’re quite confident in yourself. I know if I was doing what I’m doing now when I was sixteen, things would get me down more than they get me down now - there’s more rejection than acceptance. While your career is measured by the yeses and not the noes, the noes sometimes make you feel deterred and dejected. The more I've been in the industry, and the more experienced I've become, the less difficult that rejection is and I don't really think about it - I’m just optimistic for the next opportunity.
Also be patient, this is something I’m still learning - things take a lot of time to build. You know you’re not going to be where you dream of after just a month of working - you have to put in a lot of effort, and you need to do things that are out of your comfort zone. You have to work long hours and hopefully, that will get you to where you dream of being.
Another thing, and I’ve fallen victim to this, is that it’s so easy to compare yourself to others. But just knowing that someone else’s success doesn’t take away your own is a good way to approach this industry. Don’t look at everything and everyone through a competitive lense. I still think it’s important to be competitive but just not with that jealousy element. No one’s career is the same, no one’s journey is the same. There are no given set of steps you need to take, you just have to do your best and listen to your agents and see what they want in terms of direction and see what they think would be best for you to achieve your goals - because they do know best!
Want to see more of Cairo? Check out her Instagram