Véronique Beekhuis | Interview with a Dutch talent manager

The View recently hooked up with one of the best and sought-after talent managers in the Dutch fashion imagery industry. Based in Amsterdam, Véronique Beekhuis has an incredible and inspiring career so far, and has been on multiple sides of the business. We were very excited to have the opportunity to chat with her, on her childhood dreams, the business, and her career.

TV: Can you tell a little bit about your childhood? What did you love spending time on and what were your “When I grow up, I like to be …” dreams?

VB: When I grew up, I liked to dress up, as well as dressing up my (barbie) dolls and create settings for the stories they ‘lived’, making clothes, put on extra makeup, and cut their hair (a Punk barbie, made by myself). When visiting the local perfume store with my mom, she bought a present for someone, and I remember looking at the shop assistant wrapping the present and making a spectacle out of it, and thought “When I grow up, I want to do that!”. I wanted to create. After the Modevakschool, back then really well known, I started working at De Bijenkorf as a shop assistant, responsible for my department and several colleagues, and some special season-displays. Then finally became a windowdresser for 10 years, while doing styling jobs on the side.

TV: Joined De Boekers, a model agency, and stayed for six years. How was that?

VB: A complete different world. I had to learn looking at pictures differently then I was used to. I’m a ‘fashiongirl’ and a stylist, so I used to look at the clothes and how it was styled, but when I became a model agent, I had to see if the model looked good, and if the pictures were a good addition to her portfolio. Being a booker is hard work, you have to link the right people for the job, empathize (both the client and your model), be accurate, remember everything, must think quick, and be a problem-shooter, sometimes a psychologist (I knew more of their personal lives then their parents and boy/girl-friends). We worked with agencies and clients all over the world. In times it could be so hectic I picked-up my own phone saying: “Good afternoon, Véronique at De Boekers speaking”. But I loved it! De Boekers is well known for their reliability, and we and the models took that very seriously. They guide their models in their career, which job is good and which one can ‘damage’ your career. Loved the contact with the models, some in particular, and I still have really close (model)friends from that time. When I left, some of them came with presents and flowers, and I got a lot of really nice emails from all over the world, so sweet!

TV: How would your describe the current model agency landscape, and industry in general? What role do you see for new agencies that are popping up these days?

VB: I don’t think the model agencies really changed. You have to distinguish yourself anyway, be different in your presentation, the models you represent, and the way you work. A good model agency knows the strength of their models, what they can achieve, and how to support them to get them ‘there’. That is why the boutique agencies take their fame now, they are a one-on-one agent and really have a more personal approach to the models, clients, and even their agencies abroad. They can do this because of the small range of models they represent, that is important to make this difference. Our industry (as photographers, stylists and hair/make-up agents) didn’t really change I think. It’s faster. Unwritten rules have changed, there are some people who make it a bit hard for the established order, by working for much lower fees and conditions. I still believe that quality rules over quantity in the end, and when clients see and feel the results, a beautiful campaign / editorial, the photographers (and his/her team) experience is what you pay for. In the end, that counts!

TV: You partnered up and created FAAS VÉRONIQUE, because at some point you must have thought, “I can do this way better!”, right?

VB: Thijs FAAS and I knew each other because he represented people who my creatives worked with before. When he was busy working with his sister Ellis Faas on her Ellis Faas Cosmetics Brand, he did not want to give up his agency. He did not want to let his artists down. When one of his photographers worked with a friend of mine, he asked her about me and my plans. He contacted me and we sat down with a bottle of wine and some fingerfood in the evening sun on de Nieuwmarkt, and talked about our plans. There where creative people who asked me to be their agent since I left De Boekers, so we contacted them to team-up with the ones Thijs already had. We wanted to have a small, selective group so we could work on a more personal approach, both for our creatives as for our clients. We did not want a big agency because we believed every single creative had their own talent, strenght and uniqueness. Nothing like “..we have more where that came from..”.

TV: Starting your own company is always exciting as well as daunting. After which project did you think “Totally convinced that this is going the way I envisioned it.”?

VB: – Actually there is more then one moment. The fact that there were creatives who believed in collaborating with us, I think our strength was that we wanted to work on a more one-on-one personal base, wanted a small range of creatives with their own exclusive ‘signatures’, were reliable, knew many people in the business, and worked 24/7. The first big job that came almost immediately, – a big, really spectacular shoot for De Bijenkorf -, made me dance around the office!

TV: Fast forward to 2014, you joined ERA Management, active in London and Amsterdam. How did that came together?

VB: A Dutch, London-based hair/make-up artist we represented and also represented by ERA Management London told me: “There is something exiting coming up, I mentioned your name, and I think you will hear something soon”. That was ERA Management Amsterdam. The founder and I first had a chat over email and we soon met after that for a lunch in Amsterdam. We had the same ideas about our business, and we also connected really well. I went to London for a week, to meet the team, and see how they work. In London they have all the clients you dream of! It is a complete other market over there, different approach, different ‘rules’, different budgets. ERA Management Amsterdam also has so much potential! We have really great photographers, stylists, (art-)directors and hair/make-up artists, from both London and Amsterdam, the level is so high! We have just started, but already did some great things. I am happy to be a part of it.

Below a couple of images from ERA represented artists and their work.

This interview has been minimally edited and condensed.