By Diana Gaertner

When I started modeling (back in the Middle Ages before we even had email, even had a cell phone…), when you signed with an agency, you assumed you’d have a pretty long career. You also thought if you managed your finances wisely, you could make a good living. So I was thrilled in 1996 when I was signed by Metropolitan, immediately confirmed a Dior fragrance campaign and went to New York the same year.

After a few years, as work started to slow down, I had to push a bit harder to market myself—I went brunette and reconsidered agencies to maintain a steady flow of work. As a result, I’m proud to say I’ve walked the runway around the world for brands like Valentino, Chanel, Gucci, Dior and Armani, and appeared in magazines such as Elle, Vogue and Marie Claire.

When I look back at what made me successful, I can point to a few things: an agency as committed to my career as I was, an entrepreneurial spirit, hard work (perseverance and making tough choices), and a large network of personal contacts. Plus, after studying interior decorating and starting my own interior design business, I learned about marketing myself and countless other skills that help in running your own company. All these things opened me up to a world of modeling jobs that otherwise would not have been available, so that I’m still modeling today at 39.

Throughout all of this, I’ve maintained great friendships with other models, including my now business partner, Claudia Wagner. Over the years, as both she and I built long, fulfilling careers, it became very clear to us that most models today don’t have the resources to do the same. Between changes in the industry that mean only ‘it girls’ get the attention most models used to get, and the changing nature of modeling gigs and booking behavior thanks to globalization and fast fashion, models now seem to get the down sides of self employment (no health care, no job security), with few opportunities to build their careers.

Claudia and I believe that models today shouldn’t have to only rely on their own ingenuity and creativity to figure out how to build a career. The experience of those before them and the latest technology can be used to help shape them into smart businesswomen and flourishing models.

We both realized there is a huge opportunity to improve the careers of our fellow models — a way to give them more power, more protection and more earnings. We saw how technology advances and the popularity of online booking tools could merge to start helping models, first by increasing their access to jobs. And that’s why we decided to build a more transparent way to book models.

Our tool is called UBOOKER, which we are thrilled to be unveiling now. We are a digital booking platform that safely connects professional, experienced models with vetted clients worldwide.

We’re excited because we’re providing models with a way to become entrepreneurs and have control over their careers. Through this tool, a model can receive options and bookings. This way, the models get full transparency and direct insight into their market—and therefore better access to more jobs.

We’re already seeing our model numbers grow quickly, and this is just the start. We can’t wait for the next phases. Most of all, we can’t wait for the future of modeling—filled with professionals who have the best resources to set them free from industry constraints, and allow them to become the powerful modelpreneurs we know they have the potential to be.