In 2012, after a year in the business, we held our first Pink Lipstick Model Search. The winner was a young, beautiful, fantastically energetic social media genius named Ashley Alexiss. We didn’t know then that we’d connected with a complex, intriguing person who was to become a key member of our Pink Lipstick family. All we knew was the camera loved her! Now, after working with Ashley for five years, she has single-handedly turned herself into one of the most in-demand curvy glamour models in the industry. We sat down with her recently to reminisce, and to ask her just how she made the amazing journey to where she is today.
Pink Lipstick: What inspired you to get started as model?
Ashley Alexiss: What’s funny is that as a kid, I hated being in front of the camera. Anytime there was a picture taken, there was little Ashley in the corner with a puss on her face. If I knew why, I’d tell you. It wasn’t until I entered the Miss Teen Massachusetts pageant in 2006, that I realized that this is what I should be doing. I won Miss Congeniality, and had to do a mandatory photo-shoot, from the first click, I felt like I was doing exactly what I was meant to be doing. So, I did my research, and started booking shoots. As I got further into it, many people doubted me because I wasn’t a size 0 and I wasn’t 5’9. I was a size 6 and vertically challenged at 5’4. Lots of photographers wouldn’t waste a simple breath on me let alone a photo, and many said I was wasting my time. I made it my mission to prove them wrong and to prove that I was doing exactly what I was meant to do.
PL: What was your first big break in the industry?
AA: I don’t feel like I ever had a “big break.” I’ve worked really hard, and I still do, to better myself, to evolve as a model and with the ever-changing industry. Nobody just gave me a get out of jail free card, I’ve had to earn every shoot, every publication, every catalog, every title by putting my time and effort into it. I feel like my big break has been my passion and determination.
PL: Any funny memories about how we first met?
AA: I remember winning that contest like it was yesterday. I’ve always dreamt of seeing my photo on a box to sell a product, and when I got the $1000 worth of Pink Lipstick items it said “are you Pink Lipstick Lingerie’s next model search winner?” I said oh yes I am and couldn’t wait till that shoot. The day of the shoot I was more nervous than I had ever been. It was my first catalog shoot ever. I kept thinking to myself, “don’t screw this up!” I barely slept. I was practicing my expressions in the mirror the night before. Little did I know, I’d have the coolest team around me the whole day making me feel like an absolute super star. It was a shoot like that, that reminded me why I loved what I did so much.
PL: What do you do to stay centered and focused with your jet-setting lifestyle? Any cures for jet lag?
AA: I remind myself that there’s someone younger and someone better, trying to do exactly what I’m doing. I don’t ever let myself take the slightest break. When I take a moment, I get bored. Modeling, traveling, and just trying to send a positive message throughout the industry is what makes me thrive. I don’t take it for granted. The jet lag, ehh, it’ll pass. That’s what I remind myself. Everything with me is mind over matter.
PL: Any projects you’re working on that really excite you?
AA: There’s a few, but I can’t discuss just yet. I like to have the physical proof before I announce anything.
PL: When you’re not busy modeling, what are some of your favorite things to do?
AA: Traveling the world is something I’ve been finally able to start doing since I graduated with my Master’s. I go to about one new country a month and it really helps my focus. Plus, I get to shoot in these countries and create photos I wouldn’t be able to create anywhere else. When I’m not traveling, I enjoy working on my business, Alexiss Swimwear. Making women feel great and confident gives me this overwhelming joy and satisfaction. So I’m always trying to better that along with myself.
PL: What’s the future of Ashley Alexiss’ modeling career?
AA: I feel like I have quite a while left in me… well into my mid-30’s. I’m not stopping anytime soon. I hope to join the Sports Illustrated girls one day, and grace some big publication covers. I want to show that you don’t have to be the ideal “everything" to be successful. Not just in terms of being a plus-size model, but being short, and without an agency. I’ve been able to accomplish everything on my own, and I’ll keep pushing forward.
PL: It’s been noted that you’re the ideal curvy model working today; how do you maintain your figure?
AA: That’s very flattering and makes me blush. Although, there’s no “ideal” body. I’ve seen girls with slamming bodies sizes 2, sizes 18, sizes, 6… I mean there’s no way to say that there’s an ideal body, I’m just trying to represent women to the best of my ability. My main focus is health. I keep myself in check with diet, but don’t go to extremes. I allow myself to indulge and don’t hate myself when I’m having a lazy day and don’t feel like hitting the gym. When you do that, you resent those things and create a negative relationship with them. If you forgive yourself for being human, it’s easier to stay on track. Again, as long as you’re healthy and treat your body right.
PL: Any message for aspiring models trying to get in the game today?
AA: RESEARCH. RESEARCH. RESEARCH. Honestly, that’s the best piece of advice I can give. Anyone can be a model today with social media, and the same goes for agencies, photographers, and anybody else in the industry. Which means, you really need to make sure who you work with is credible and don’t sell your soul. I’ve turned down big paying jobs because they didn’t correlate with my values and I’m still successful.