Master and apprentice: Sara Tetro and Andrea Plowright

25 August 2016
By Fashion Quarterly

Sara Tetro Andrea Plowright

In Fashion Quarterly’s spring issue, we spoke to three fashion industry protégés and the industry leaders who showed them the ropes.

The first pair we profiled was Sara Tetro and Andrea Plowright. Sara founded modelling and talent agency, 62 Models & Talent, in 1994. In 2003, she hired Andrea as a junior model booker. In 2014, Andrea bought the business off Sara, and stepped into the role of director. Sara retained ownership of the business’s celebrity management division, 62 Management, and this has since been her sole focus. This is Sara and Andrea, in their own words.

SARA TETRO ON ANDREA PLOWRIGHT

When/where/how did Andrea get on your radar?
One of the bookers at 62 kept telling me to interview this chick from Labtec. They said she’s super efficient and we like her.

What impression did she make on you initially?
I liked her straight away. She clearly knew plenty about the industry, she was keen to work for me and she asked me great questions. She had a funny belt on too that I teased her about mercilessly for years…

When did you know that Andrea would play a significant role in your business?
I can’t remember a eureka moment, but what really sticks out in my mind was when she said she and her partner, Craig, were keen to go back and live in London. I asked her why. We chatted, she outlined their reasons and we came up with a better master plan. When I went home that night I remember thinking, I really don’t want her to go! The business needs her and, equally as important, I love coming to work every day and seeing her.

What are the specific qualities that made her stand out to you?
Loyalty. Andi is the most incredibly loyal person I have ever had the pleasure to work alongside.

Do you see something of yourself in Andrea? If so, what?
I see the same hunger to do well. She wants her models and her clients to get the best possible outcome. She loves the industry but has a family life away from it, as do I. A lot of people live and breathe the industry and that’s great, but the line between work and home was very important to me and I see the same in Andi, now she has two children of her own. I think they give balance.

In what ways are you different and what challenges and opportunities have these differences presented over the years that you’ve worked together?
I run late, she’s very punctual. But work was never just a job for me, it was immediately apparent that Andi was the same. I loved what I did, I found it entertaining and stimulating. I found watching how young models navigate their way through those really difficult teenage years fascinating – even more so now that I’m a mother of two teenage daughters. Andi and I talked endlessly about why certain models responded and behaved as they did; how differently the girls managed that tough, industry environment at such a critical time in their own development, and why a lot of what happened was more human nature than personal. I loved every minute of it.

What are the tangible ways in which you have supported and nurtured Andrea, and enabled her to grow both professionally and as a person since she started at 62 Models & Talent?
I taught her to deal with the unpleasant stuff immediately – that sitting on the tough issues only gives you sleepless nights. I taught her that you can’t please everyone all of the time but you can be polite. I taught her there is always a solution to every problem, it’s just a matter of finding it. I taught her that when she crashed my Audi and lost the sunglasses I gave her!

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In what ways has Andrea supported you and enabled you to achieve your own professional goals?
Andi knew me so well. She knew the jobs that I didn’t enjoy so much, so she dealt with them herself. She took on a much bigger workload when I was off either having my kids or when I was filming New Zealand’s Next Top Model, and she never asked for an extra cent, even though her workload doubled at times. That truly showed she cared about me as well as my business. The pay rises followed!

Andrea took over as owner and director of 62 Models & Talent in 2014. Was it difficult to relinquish a part of the business that you had spent 20 years building up? How did Andrea make your decision to do so easier?
Actually, Andi made the decision to sell the business a relatively easy one for me. I was running three companies, sitting on various charitable trust boards, trying to parent my kids full-time and I’d recently finished filming a reality TV show. That’s a pretty full on schedule and after 20 years I wanted to cut down my workload. I wanted to spend more, less pressured time with my kids, and [my partner] Rob and I wanted to travel together more. Andi was hungry to work, and her husband Craig was a regular fixture in the office – there over many weekends helping us with our branding and a myriad of other vital things that needed attention. I knew they both cared about 62. It was my ‘baby’, but they already treated the business like it was their own.

What do you think is the best advice you have ever given Andrea?
Deal with the hard stuff when it happens and fess up to any mistakes immediately. An honest apology goes way further than painting over rust.

What have you learnt from her?
That true loyalty can exists in a notoriously tough and competitive industry.

What achievement of Andrea’s are you most proud of?
I’m proud she had the guts to take on my company. Owning your own business is nirvana for many but it can also be scary and very lonely at times. She was always there for me and I am always here for her.

 

ANDREA PLOWRIGHT ON SARA TETRO

What did you know about Sara before you started working for her?
I had recently returned from London with my boyfriend (now husband) where I’d been working for Metro Imaging, the largest professional photographic lab in Europe, so I didn’t know much about Sara.

What happened the first time you met – was she everything you expected?
I imagined that a woman who owned a modelling agency would have big hair and drive a red convertible. I was thinking Models Inc. (a bad 90s TV series). Sara was completely different in the best possible way. I was missing London’s lifestyle and Sara was vibrant, smart, funny and really cool. I was instantly impressed and knew she was someone I wanted to work for. Sara even managed to overlook my hilarious interview outfit…

When did things start happening for you at 62 Models & Talent and what was the catalyst for this? How do you think you proved yourself to Sara?
Not long after I started booking at 62 a senior staff member left and I grabbed the opportunity to take on more responsibility and to prove to Sara that her gamble was a good one. I remember walking into Sara’s office asking for the chance to do fashion week solo. Sara gave me the chance to prove myself and said ‘Go for it’. This when my personality really started to mesh with the job – the more fast paced and intense it got, the more I loved it! Sara started putting me through what I call the ‘Anna Wintour’ test, giving me more responsibility and more big clients. We started growing extremely close.

What tools and support has Sara given you that have enabled you to grow both professionally and as a person since you started at 62 Models & Talent?
Sara’s greatest gifts have been her belief in me, and allowing me the space to make mistakes and grow and learn from them. She’s also very insightful. At one point my husband Craig and I contemplated moving back to London because we thought we could get further ahead in life. Sara convinced us there was another way; that we could have the life we wanted in Auckland – and we do.

In 2014 you bought 62 Models & Talent and stepped into the role of director, how has your relationship with Sara evolved since then?
Sara and I are really good friends and we hang out more in a personal space. We see each other regularly so nothing much has changed. Sara is always there for me and vice versa.

What was it about the business and the way it was set up that gave you the confidence to take it on?
The business had been going for nearly 20 years when Sara decided to sell it. I’d been there for more than half that time so I knew the place inside out, but Sara gave me the confidence to take it on. She gave me self-belief and encouraged me to take the risk

What do you hope to contribute to the 62 Models & Talent legacy?
I would like to maintain 62’s reputation as an agency that really looks after its models. I’d like to establish a long line of models who have achieved local and international success and who have set themselves up for a financially secure life.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve ever made at work and how did you work through it? How did Sara help you come out the other side, whether directly or indirectly?
The biggest mistake I ever made at work was crashing Sara’s brand new Audi and momentarily thinking I could convince her it wasn’t my fault. It was a real fight or flight moment – I rang my husband Craig, freaking out, not knowing that Sara – who had seen it happen – had already called him. She thought it was hilarious and kept the joke going.

What is the best advice she has ever given you?
Own your mistakes and deal with problems then and there – don’t let them fester.

What have you learnt from watching Sara do business?
That relationships are key, and passion and cultural fit are more important in a business than perceived industry experience.

How do you think you and Sara are alike?
We’re both strong minded independent women with a wicked sense of humour. Sara makes me feel like a million dollars.

What qualities does she have that you admire?
Sara is extremely generous. She is not afraid to share her opinion but she will back you to the hilt if you’re on her team. Sara is always willing to listen to my problems whether big or small.

 

Photos: Jane Ussher

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