Gina Hole Lazarowich lives the adage, ‘Do what you love.’ Lazarowich founded They Representation, in 2004, a leading artists’ agency in Vancouver, BC, representing top fashion, lifestyle, advertising and celebrity stylists, make-up artists, hair stylists, prop and product stylists, set decorators, food stylists and more. She’s also the founder of They Produce, a photo and motion picture production company, offering art buying services to clients worldwide and exchanges location advice with producers around the world.
1. When did you decide you wanted to become an agent?
In the 90s, I was working as a makeup artist in Los Angeles. I joined one of the top agencies there, Celestine. I loved how the owner/agent, Angelina Schubert, ran her agency. She maintained a roster of top artists in LA; sought out the best clients, and obsessed over our portfolios. She definitely was a mentor.
I thought, at the time, “This is exactly what Vancouver needs: an agency to rep all of the city’s best artists. After five years in LA, and having survived an economic recession in the States, I decided to return to Vancouver to open the first artists’ agency in the city.
I attribute my decision to my ‘inner business woman’ surfacing. I’m a ‘left brain/right brain’ personality. Working for decades as a makeup artist, I had no idea what was inside me, wanting to break loose. I discovered my business side and became a voice for other artists.
2. Are you a photographer, yourself?
In the early 90s, I sold my convertible to buy a camera with a long lens so I could shoot people surfing and skateboarding. Only a few images were published for skate and clothing brands in California. I never shot professionally. Picture a makeup artist with a camera.
Oddly, I never wanted to shoot ‘beauty’ as a photographer. I thought I should leave that to the pros.
Now that I’m also a photo producer, I shoot “behind the scenes” shots and location photos for clients.
3. Do you remember the first photo shoot you worked on?
Yes: in 1979, it was for Roots shoes. We shot our own campaigns, so I modeled the shoes, styled my clothing around the shoes, did my own hair and makeup, and helped plan shoots. I was 15-years-old. I look back and realize I’m doing almost the exact same job today; just not the modeling, of course.
4. Can you tell us a little bit about how it was when you first started out? What kind of challenges did you face?
I’d already been working in the Vancouver fashion industry for three years when I graduated from high school. I’d made a lot of contacts. My retail years were my ‘fashion university.’
Everyone came through our store to pull for shoots, buy, and collaborate on fashion shows. I built a network.
Let’s face it, everyone starts out not being the best at what they do. It took dozens, if not hundreds, of faces to become a pro as a makeup artist.
Getting around and knowing people in the business opened doors. It saved me from working in any other industry but fashion and photography.
I turned the corner when I was 19-years-old. I was asked to be an agent, the first and only agent at the time, for Charles Stuart International Models, (the agency that discovered Coco Rocha). Only problem was, there were no models on the roster.
I had to find models and promote them. When the first bookings came through, I was on top of the world. I discovered my passion for booking and management.
I loved every minute of it. I still love being an agent. It all goes back to selling shoes at Roots, then at Holt Renfrew; being a manager at Le Chateau. Sell and make sure everyone is happy; well taken care of. You follow this theory whether you’re selling shoes, or managing top artists.
5. What is it about the profession that you enjoy most?
What I enjoy most is discovering new artists. Sometimes, they find me. I enjoy helping them develop their careers; watching them rise to the top. It makes me proud and proves that my hard work, understanding, and belief in them pays off. It’s a team effort to maintain a career.
6. What do you look for in artists, in order to take them on?
I used to have a larger roster of talent. I found, after thirteen years as an artist and agent, that even if an artist is the best in their field, artistically, that’s only fifty percent of their journey. The other half is about being a great person: easygoing, professional and likable, on set. That’s the winning combination.
No one wants to work with divas anymore. When artists start believing their own hype, careers go down the drain. In the end, you’re responsible for your own career. Be the best and nicest you can be, on set. No cell phones, unless needed for the shoot. Connect with people. That will earn you your next booking.
7. What do you enjoy most about your career?
Coordinating great teams for any type of project.
8. What do you dislike the most?
When people view agencies in a negative light. Sometimes the perception is: we’re tough, inflexible, or unapproachable. That’s so far from the truth. We bring balance and fairness. We create an even playing field and serve as a conduit between an artist and client. We negotiate what’s best within a client’s budget. We connect clients with the best artists.
9. You represent some very impressive artists in the industry. Was it difficult to bring them on board?
I have a policy now: I don’t look for artists. They come to me. I find if I search them out, they’re not truly invested. If they come to me, I know they’re serious.
It’s hard work branding and launching an artist. We want to make sure we each have the same vision and expectation for an outcome. I’m proud of the artists we represent. Most have been with me since the beginning, 2004. I feel privileged they trusted me back then with their already-established careers. In a sense, they created the agency by putting their trust in me. I thank them for that.
10. What do you think are important qualities for being a great agent?
Realizing that you’re both an agent for the artist and the client. You bring the two together. I make sure everything is smooth and easy and that we develop a wonderful working relationship. Anyone can get a booking. What counts is if clients come back; book a second or third time. That’s what we all strive for. I want my clients to be so satisfied with the first go-around, they come back. It’s the greatest reward, as an agent, when both parties are happy.
11. Is there one shoot that particularly stands out in your mind?
So many. A recent advertising campaign I produced for Moose Knuckles, Canada stands out. We took an all-woman team to the top of Whistler Mountain to shoot. Pretty proud of a photo of the client, photographer, crew, talent, stylist, hair/makeup, catering and production we shot. That’s girl power.
12. What types of promotion do you use to promote your agency?
I use MeatMarket Photography, for sure. I also write a daily blog, and post on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It’s important to keep names circulating to stay on top of everybody’s lists. We encourage our artists to get out, conduct face-to-face meetings. We, as agents, go out to meet photographers and clients, too.
13. What is your biggest strength? Your greatest weakness?
I’d say my biggest strength is: my strength. How’s that? I’ve never been afraid to ‘go for it.’ It’s how things turn out in your favor when you take risks. Weakness? Hmmm. Caring too much.
14. What inspires you?
My family is No.1. Most people know that about me. I try to make the people I know feel as if they’re the only person that matters. That’s sincere. I love talking to people. There’s lots of love to go around. In business, I’m inspired when the agency gets the best jobs: A-level. Not gonna lie.
15. Who do you follow on Instagram and why?
For the photo production company, They Produce (@theyproducevancouver), I follow as many photographers as I can. If they follow me, I follow them. I’m in awe of images. They blow my mind on a daily basis. I also follow as many photo production companies around the world, as possible.
We’re our own worldwide community. They can reach out to me for help in Vancouver and I reach out to them for shoots outside of British Columbia. I’ve forged some wonderful relationships. It’s also great to get location ideas from others.
16. Do you still show physical portfolios?
At, THEY Rep, we have portfolios online, as well as videos, bios and SM for each artist we represent. It’s a beast of a website, but worth it.
Clients can always see a variety of styles for each artist. We don’t limit images. If a client wants to see ‘natural makeup,’ it’s there. If they want full glam, we’ve got it. My motto is, ‘more is more.’ Clients never ask for additional work because it’s all there.
We also just adopted a new promotional strategy: we now create printed magazine promo portfolios. We print them in runs of two dozen so they’re always fresh. Our artists hand them out during or at the conclusion of a meeting. Sometimes, we’ll send out a mailing to our clients.
The magazine promo portfolios can be updated often, which is great, because, as we all know, as soon as a book is printed, it’s old. We use them as a ‘leave behind’ hoping they will remind a potential client to keep an artist in mind for future bookings.
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