A local high school senior is well on her way to making a mark in her chosen career field.
Josie Barton is set to finish her senior year at Farmington High School this month – preparing for a move to California in January.
Barton, 18, is a model with West Model and Talent Management in St. Louis. Most recently, Barton is featured on the cover of Gazelle St. Louis magazine’s December/January issue.
“This magazine is the biggest job I have done,” Barton said “There is a whole spread on the inside of the magazine, as well as three billboards in St. Louis and two in Arizona. So, it’s a very big job but I had a lot of great people helping me with that.”
During the photography shoot, Barton said she was aware where the photos may end up.
“(The agency) told me they would like to do the holiday edition and that it would be a good fit for me and…more than likely, if the photos turned out well, what it would be used for,” she said. “So, I was crossing my fingers. I had a good team of photographers and stylists and make-up artists. I had confidence it would end up on the cover.
“I don’t think it hit me until I saw the book in stores. The shoot turned out so well, the man who generously…lent us the furs for the shoot, loved (the photos) so much he decided to buy the photos and put them on billboards to bring more customers to his store. I didn’t know that was going to happen but that’s some great exposure in the St. Louis area and Arizona.
“Funny thing is, my friends from college were coming home and saying, ‘hey, I don’t know if you know this or not but I just saw you on a billboard’. It’s neat when they recognize you just from looking at you on a billboard.”
Barton said her love for modeling first began competing in pageants around the age of 13.
“I’ve done National American Miss and Miss American Diamonds and various beauty pageants,” she said. “And then, I decided I liked modeling better than pageants.”
When she was 16, Barton decided to take a chance at the industry. To get her start, Barton said she did a “Google” search for agencies in St. Louis – finding her current agency during the search.
“They have great success stories from people like Devon Windsor, who is now a Victoria’s Secret model,” she said.
Barton said she emailed the agency and received a response not long after.
“It was the same night,” she said. “They told me ‘hey, Josie. We’d love to meet you’ and set up a time to meet. I knew that was the career industry I wanted to pursue and that’s the steps I decided to take.”
After signing on, Barton said the agency helped to develop her look.
“They cut my hair and dyed it,” she said. “They helped me grow and mature as a whole.”
Some of Barton’s first work was a runway show.
“At first, they told me ‘let’s see how you do on runway’,” she said. “I was thinking, ‘Oh, gosh…runway. I barely even walk in heels’.
“My first runway was at Westport Plaza for various local Lindenwood designers. I got to this runway and really didn’t know how to do much of anything. But, they explained what I should do and that was my first job.”
Even at that age, Barton said she knew she was heading in the right direction.
“It was something I set my mind to do as my career choice,” she said. “If I can pursue that at 16 years old and get a jump start on my field, pretty much anyone can start their career at any age they feel.”
Since signing with the agency, Barton has been able to model in a variety of job opportunities.
“I’ve done editorial, runway, all these various different things and I just love all of it,” she said. “There’s not one that I love more. I love the adrenaline rush that runway gives you. I love seeing the end product when you’re on magazine covers or billboards. It’s just kind of neat.”
And, admittedly, her most recent gig was a big feather in her cap.
“The magazine cover is one of the biggest things I’ve done,” she said. “I modeled for Glik’s online. I’ve been in a bridal magazine – but I wasn’t on the cover.”
In January, she leaves for Los Angeles to meet with agencies.
The agency provides housing for Barton and the others who are also looking to start a career in the modeling industry.
“Pretty much, all I have to pay for is my food or any clothing or entertainment expense,” she said. “They pay for my housing and set me up with different shoots.
“It’s not an opportunity that everyone gets at my age. From 16 years old to 18 to actually travel and do what they love. It’s really neat that I get to experience something like this.”
She is excited for what the opportunity may hold – and where it can lead.
“If I get signed while I’m there, I’ll pack up my things and move to L.A.,” she said. “If I don’t, I’ll more than likely go over to Asia.
“So, it’s just kind of depending on where I’m going to go. Regardless, I’m leaving home.
“The girls who are serious about pursuing the career go on to places like Chicago, New York, L.A., Asia…just various different markets where the girls would be good for. Everybody has their own look. They might be better in Asia or they might do well in New York. It all depends on your look. Everyone is different.”
Shawnna Robinson is the managing editor of the Farmington Press and can be reached at 573-518-3628 or firstname.lastname@example.org