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Mélie Tiacoh has a passion for fashion and finance

You may have seen the JMSB grad on the catwalk
May 19, 2020
By Ian Harrison, BComm 01

Mélie Tiacoh Top model Mélie Tiacoh, BComm 13 | Photo: @melie_tiacoh via Instagram

Less than a decade removed from the John Molson School of Business, top model Mélie Tiacoh, BComm 13, has ascended the echelons of the fashion world and set herself up for a successful career in business as a CFA candidate.

We recently spoke to the New York-based Tiacoh about her life on and off the runway.

How has your job been affected by the pandemic?

Mélie Tiacoh: The modelling industry has been affected big time. Every shoot requires teamwork: you have a photographer, technical assistant, stylist, makeup artist, hair stylist, model, art director, et cetera. All shoots and castings have thus been cancelled.

Also, a lot of the manufacturing is done in Asia. As a result, many companies haven’t had clothes to shoot anyway. Because of these unusual times we are navigating, a lot of clients have asked models to do self-shoots at home, or to have companions, roommates and friends help them.

Some have also organized photoshoots through FaceTime or other platforms and the results are quite cool! So far, it’s been an interesting, fun and challenging experience. It feels so rewarding to see pictures that I have taken of myself on my clients’ websites!

What was your experience like as a student at Concordia?

MT: I loved studying in Montreal. It’s a beautiful, safe city and I loved how my friends and fellow students were all focused. We inspired each other to get good grades and graduate fast. I chose finance as a major and computer science as a minor because I’ve always wanted to be a trader on the New York Stock Exchange.

You chose to study for your CFA designation after you graduated. How have you juggled that with the demands of a busy career?

I love challenges. I’m currently a CFA Level 3 candidate. It’s a tough exam that requires a lot of discipline. Being a model, I have the advantage of a flexible schedule that I try to manage the best I can. It isn’t always easy, but I take it step by step.

Do you see some compatibility between investment management and the fashion world?

As a model you have to manage your finances and invest wisely, since it’s a relatively short career. I’ve used my skills to take good care of my finances. I’m currently building my own company (to be coming out this year) and being my own boss will definitely require some financial skills.

The fashion world has had to contend with problems related to misogyny, racism and a lack of diversity. How do feel about where the industry is now?

I’m glad to see the direction the industry has taken over the last few years. The world is diverse and that should be represented in the modelling industry as well. It also gives us ‘ethnic models’ more chances to work and do great things.

It’s very important to have good management because you can easily get lost or feel insecure. You want to make sure you have a team that will encourage you and shape you into a strong person who knows their worth and potential.

Can you talk about your work with the Kalou Foundation?

For the past three years I have been the ambassador for the Kalou Foundation. It’s the foundation of ex-Chelsea and current Herta BSC soccer player Salomon Kalou. Together, we organize a Christmas party every year for the orphans of Grand-Bassam and Abidjan in Ivory Coast. We also raise funds to rehabilitate and build schools, hospitals, dialysis centres and other facilities.

Can you describe how it felt to be part of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show?

Mélie Tiacoh, BComm 13 ‘I chose finance as a major and computer science as a minor because I’ve always wanted to be a trader on the New York Stock Exchange,’ says Mélie Tiacoh, BComm 13. | Photo: Next Models

Walking the VS show, you get to work with some of the biggest models in the world and be in contact with very important people in the entertainment and modelling industries. It’s very challenging and intimidating but it also gives you a reason to work hard. There’s such a small chance to be in the show so you want it to be an experience to remember; there’s no room for regrets.

The sacrifices I made were nothing compared to how I felt being in the show. I felt lucky, of course, but also very deserving. Seeing my family and friends watching, crying and dancing with me was by far the best feeling in the world. Definitely the best experience of my career!

What do people commonly misunderstand about models and the fashion world? What do you think would surprise most people about the job?

People think that the fashion world is a superficial and perverted industry and that modelling is not a real job. Well, it is a real job! You travel the world, far away from family, at a young age. You’re required to be professional, you have to manage your finances and constantly push yourself. You learn how to be patient, professional, self-dependent, resilient and to deliver what clients need: you’re an actor, a gymnast and a dancer, all at once, in front of the camera.

Like any industry, there are problems. However, as long as you keep a good head on your shoulders and have family, friends and an agency to support you, there’s no reason to fall prey to them. It’s a tough industry, especially because of the competition and the fact that you’re judged on the way you look. But I’m proud of how mature, independent, open-minded and less self-critical I have become. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.


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