In a man’s world, it’s not easy to start your own business when you are a woman. But Grace Paulino has proven that if you work hard, you can achieve anything you want.
On Career and GTM:
It was LG Fashion Week in 2008, when one of my friends invited me to come to the fashion week to watch some shows. When we came there, many agencies started offering me their business cards for the opportunity to become a model with them. I was unsure, so I turned most to them down. Next season, we went back to fashion week, and more agents asked to represent me! Finally, I said yes, and that was when I became a model. In 2013, I joined an acting agency while I was attending Business School. There I learnt a great deal about the film and TV industry, worked on such TV shows like Suits and movies like Pixels, Rocky Blue and 12 Monkeys. At that time, I built some great contacts in the industry.
When I graduated from Canadian Business School I knew that I was going to start an agency, because now I was more interested in helping people to achieve their dreams in the talent industry rather than my own. I love connecting people with opportunity, and that’s when Grace Talent Management (GTM) began operation in 2015. I ran the agency from home until January of 2017. We leased our office studio space at 1178 Bloor Street West, an 800 square foot studio office where I work with a team of creative individuals including 1 booking agent, 2 photographers, and a makeup artist/hairstylist to support our models and talent to build their career and portfolio. We have about 25 models and 20 actors/actresses. We’ve partnered with Toronto Film School so we can hire graduates right away. I feel we can support our models and talent 110% whether it’s self-taping, voice over recordings, headshots, readings, career advice and more. I love seeing the excitement stage talent and models get when they are booked for a quality job that pays well. It’s a very difficult business to get into and the main platform that agencies and management have access to is only available through casting directors’ referral letters, and the business has to be in service for 3 years before it can qualify for certification. I had to hustle really hard; I kept scouting, sending introduction emails out to small and large businesses that needed models and talent for projects within the industry. The first year was very hard, but now clients are contacting us looking for models and talent for work. We are growing and always scouting new faces. The Toronto fashion industry is still very young, but it’s developing, and the more we work together, the better it gets. With TOM, TWFW, Toronto Fashion Group, F.A.T. (Fashion Art Toronto), Start up Fashion Week, and Africa Fashion Week, it’s a never ending busy time for fashion people. I believe we have a lot of talented fashion designers, models, photographers out there.
Outfit by Beely
In 5-10 years I see Grace Talent Management growing into a big empire with secondary home in Los Angeles, representing models and talent in Hollywood.
Dress by Kara Louise. Accessories by Carlos Herrera
Not everyone knows that I come from a family of 8 brothers and sisters. My family came from East Africa, my mother was from Uganda and my father was from South Sudan. I’m a Canadian Citizen now, but came to Canada as a refugee with my brother and his family in 2000. I have never been back to Africa since; Toronto my home now. Canada, especially Toronto, gave me and my family a home during war, they took us in, welcomed us from the airport, and gave us a second chance to build a worthy life.
I always try to learn new things when I have free time. So recently, I learnt how to ride a horse. I’m still trying to learn how to skate. I also write, more like short films.
Outfit by Beely
Working for myself makes me really happy. I also love to help people, volunteer, take part in charity events. And dancing as well.
Advice to youth:
Study hard and never stop learning, but most of all, express your style with confidence. Choose a career that makes you happy, a career that you wake up in the morning excited to go to work. Be creative, be open to new ideas, and try new things. Don’t let other people discourage you.