It’s a Wednesday afternoon. I’m sitting in Starbucks on Byres Road during my break from making pitiful attempts at my dissertation. I’m content with my gingerbread latte, wiping the rain from my glasses. I’m about to meet with Florence Millar.
Flo is twenty-years-old, she is in her final year here at the University of Glasgow, studying Economic and Social History. Her historical interests range from civil rights to consumerism and leisure patterns. She is currently writing her dissertation on tourism and class differences in 20th Century Britain. From this, she sounds like your typical student; except she’s quite the opposite. Flo is in fact a highly successful professional model. I wanted to find out how she copes with the pressures of university alongside her rapidly taking off career.
Flo’s journey started at the University of Glasgow. She was scouted in the Glasgow University Union buying a pint of Tenants like the rest of us do, when a photographer behind the bar asked if she had done any modelling before. Her answer was a slightly embarrassed “no” and the rest is history. Not only is Flo signed to Glasgow-based Colours modelling and creative agency, in April this year she signed to Elite London and in the summer she signed to Elite Worldwide. This puts her amongst the names of previous Elite-signed models such as Naomi Campbell and alongside current models like Victoria Secret Angel, Alessandra Ambrosio.
Nevertheless, she’s very content in her decision to remain a hard-working student here and not move her life to London. She firmly believes in the importance of having her degree: “I hate the thought of my flatmates moving on after uni with their degrees and I’d just be stuck with nothing. I would never give up this far in […] The stress and hard work would be for absolutely nothing”. Her love for the city is strong and she is proud to be a student at UofG. She knows how lucky she is to study here, regularly commuting to and from London, even flying to european cities such as Barcelona. This no doubt makes Flo stand out from others. She isn’t just ‘the model’ some stylists and photographers refer to her as, she’s more than that - she is Florence, a model and student - something which genuinely surprises people.
A major problem for university students is looking after our health and wellbeing. Finding the balance between completing deadlines and living the rest of our lives is a difficult one to juggle and one that can take its toll on our mental health. I was inspired by Flo’s determination to not be swallowed by stress. She was honest to admit that she struggles with balancing university commitments and her career, especially over the summer telling me “I get so stressed I burst sometimes”. Her 12,000 word dissertation is particularly daunting for her; “[it’s] a scary thought. It’s such a big idea. I do worry about it, I do”. But she believes these low moments are the fuel to becoming greater. Like all of us, she is determined to get all her coursework completed to the highest standard. From modelling she has gained this advice to share:
“Set yourself goals. Don’t do big goals because if you don’t reach them, you will be even more upset with yourself. Just always do your best”.
What motivates her to not give in to pressure is the notion of success and the support she receives from her family. Flo truly believes if you grab opportunities by the hand and put effort into everything you do, you can be truly happy. Already by doing this she has a lot to look forward too when she graduates university next year: she is lined up to work with the Society of New York Agency, who represent models Adriana Lima, Kendall Jenner and Ming XI.
Despite walking her first show for Burberry during London Fashion Week; being photographed by Annie Leibovtiz for Vogue; modelling for Urban Outfitters; playing host to the legendary Anna Wintour in her dressing room and walking in front of icons like Cara Delevingne, Flo still doesn’t have her future figured out. She has ideas of doing a postgrad in French or Russian in the future, so her student days aren’t completely behind her. Yet, on the topic of career paths, her response carried a familiar air of uncertainty that most of us feel. “I really don’t know, I still don’t know…It’s scary” she freely admits. It is refreshing that Florence doesn’t take her potential future in modelling for granted, she knows that 20 is late to enter into the industry and that her days are numbered.
Florence is an example of a young woman who has got her feet firmly on the ground, embracing every opportunity life throws at her. She is beautiful, fearless, headstrong and unique. She’s more than just ‘the model’. She’s a student with her head focused in the direction of achieving something incredible through hard work and commitment; two key qualities that flourish amongst students at the University of Glasgow.
Flo’s Instagram: http://instagram.com/florencemillar