There is passion. And then there is the zeal that emanates from every pore of Michelle Yearwood’s body as she speaks on the love she has for her company C-Definition, which celebrated it’s sixth year anniversary in April. In her words: “It’s more than just a company.” According to their slogan, ‘it’s not just fashion, it’s a lifestyle.’
So how did Yearwood evolve from the young girl who grew up in Guyana to the fiery fashionista she is today?
“I think I was born fashion!” she exclaimed with her contagious exuberance. “Me being so different as a teenager dress wise, presentation wise, it was natural. It was just me. I started getting more involved and aware because I had just been doing it free minded.”
Yearwood is more popularly known for the boutique she owned on Brazil Street in the heart of Castries, First in Line. She describes it as being very “different” with an eclectic mix of cultural pieces including Indian and African, as well as black literature and artifacts. It was through her interaction with many of her patrons that the idea formed for her next venture.
“People were always coming up to me, Michelle I want you to dress me. I would give them a couple selections, jewelry and everything. I think some people dress, but they don’t really know what’s fashion. Fashion is widespread, it’s creative, and it’s universal. So I incorporated all my knowledge, love for people, and life, and started C-Definition.” She explained.
The agency encompasses almost every model type in the industry including editorial, commercial, fashion, runway, petite, and athletic. Yearwood sees it as a benefit for C-Definition because they are able to accommodate a wide span of models who may not necessarily meet the typical height requirements, but have other outstanding attributes.
“I have models from 5-years-old to about thirty-five because sometimes I do advertisements where I need more mature models.”
Her junior models were featured in what she hails as her agency’s biggest coup to date: an ad for Swedish multinational retail-clothing company Hennes & Mauritz, or H&M. In 2009, the powerhouse found Yearwood, after seeing a Youtube video of her models. They selected two at a casting call in Soufriere, who were featured in 1,700 stores in Europe and New York.
Besides that, her models have also participated in Guyana’s Jam Zone International Pageant, some even nabbed first runner-up spots. This month, they’re gearing up to strut their stuff at Hot Couture as part of the St Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival.
But the modeling industry is known for its cutthroat nature, and all over the world stories circulate about the cattiness and in-fighting between top models. While her group may not be facing these particular issues, Yearwood acknowledges, “It can be tough.”
“We face lots of challenges. I think because of where we live, dedication. It is a big thing. I think it has a lot to do with the culture. Some people are not hungry enough. Lots of people don’t believe in their dreams and going after them. So all of that has an effect on the attitude of a person, in terms of being positive, being on time,” she said.
Yearwood’s interest does not just lie in outfitting models and coaching them on the nuances of the catwalk. She wishes to effect change in society with a particular focus on the youth. In her spare time she studies counseling and volunteers her time to teaching. She eventually wants to open a school dedicated to youth and their personal development.
“I want to educate them on where they come from because if we don’t know where we come from, we don’t know where we’re going,” she told the STAR. “I want to teach them about values, morals, self-discipline, and respect.”
She credits her self-described funky personality as one of the reasons the younger set tend to gravitate towards her. “I guess they love the craziness,” she laughs.
In the future the sassy entrepreneur would like to take her models to the mecca of the fashion industry, Milan. She also strives to keep her own skills sharp.
“I started studying fashion in Guyana,” she revealed. “I am still working at it. I am looking forward to going to Fashion School in New York maybe in the next year and a half. I think it’s time to branch out.”
Any advice for someone thinking of testing the choppy waters of the modeling industry?
“Be yourself, know who you are, respect yourself,” she put forth. “These are the things we try to instill in C-Definition models.”