Erin Olson knows what it takes to be a knockout from the inside out. With 13 years of experience in the fashion industry, Erin has learned how important inner beauty is.
Former international model Erin Olson sheds light on the true marks of beauty
By Kim Christenson
Erin Olson has modeling down to a tee. She’s worked in the industry from all of its angles —
including strutting her stuff on the catwalk, styling models for photo shoots and even trying her hand at designing clothes. Now, as founder of ShapeCandy, a girls-only style camp, Erin teaches girls what it takes to be truly beautiful. She’s also director of Pulse Model Management, where Erin finds beautiful people and helps them make it in the modeling world.
Look at a picture of the oh-so fashionable Erin today and you’d never guess she started out as a tomboy. But even though she was wearing sweatshirts and tennis shoes and playing sports as a kid, Erin always dreamed of being a model. Her foster sister, a model, taught Erin how to walk the catwalk by sticking a long piece of tape on the ground. When she was 19, Utah’s Eastman Agency recognized Erin’s potential for modeling and sent her to Italy.
“I couldn’t believe my dream was coming true and that I was actually modeling in Italy,” she says. “It was an amazing experience.”
Erin’s dream was put on hold when she got into a skiing accident.
“It was a disaster. I didn’t think I would ever model again,” she says.
But Erin couldn’t resist trying to get back into it. She independently modeled in Shanghai and Bombay and then became an apprentice designer in Germany for Aldo Franco, head of Sasch Europe (The “Gap” of Europe). She also worked with Luciano Barnetto in Lecce, Italy, where some of the top designers in the world manufacture their clothes.
Even though Erin walked on the hottest catwalks in the fashion world and appeared in magazines and billboards, she knows beauty is not just skin deep.
“When I first started modeling, I tried so hard to be like the models I saw in magazines,” she says. “But then I realized that wasn’t realistic. I was more than just a face in a magazine or a body on a runway. I had more to offer than that, and I wanted to teach other girls to be themselves and not waste their lives trying to be like someone else.”
After seeing too many girls sacrifice their morals in order to gain popularity and become top models, Erin started a company called ShapeCandy, which holds style camps for girls
and teaches them how to be models — from the inside out.
“A lot of girls today just focus on their outer beauty,” she says. “They have the misconception that physical beauty will make them loved and happy. But if you look beautiful and lack a sense of civility and concern for people, you won’t be perceived as truly beautiful.”
In Erin’s style camps, she teaches manners, etiquette, social graces, fashion secrets of the modeling industry, runway walk, photo movement techniques, hair and make-up tips, and fashion predictions.
One of Erin’s mottos is: “It’s not what you wear, but how you wear it.”
“You don’t have to be a supermodel to be fashionable,” Erin says. “You just have to get creative with what you have. That has made all the difference to me when it comes to getting dressed in the morning. I also believe it’s possible to find modest clothes from name brands; it just takes a little creativity to make it work.”
Erin recently teamed up with Michele Ashman Bell, author of “A Modest Proposal” and Danni Nappi of Nappi Clothing to put on a fashion show with “real” girls instead of professional models, because she believes that any girl who wants to be on the runway deserves to be.
“When the girls first started practicing for the show they were nervous,” Erin says. “But once I taught them some runway tips, styled outfits for them and got them out on the runway, they just lit up.”
While Erin does help girls become professional models, she says it’s not the be-all-end-all.
“Beauty isn’t about becoming a top model,” she says. “It’s about civility. It’s about being aware of the community around you and being service oriented. That’s where true beauty comes from. It starts from your core and affects your whole being.”
Erin looks for models wherever she goes.
“Most of the time, the people I find never even thought of modeling — they are just naturals,” she says.
While Erin is scouting for models, her husband, Bart, is drumming for Utah Valley-based group Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand.
In fact, Erin often looks for models at Bart’s concerts. The two lovebirds met online when Bart made this fitting comment on Erin’s picture:
Erin replied, “Nice hair.”
“When I first met Erin, I was completely impressed,” Bart says. “She was wearing a stylish green jacket with ‘Italia’ written across the front and she had on these heels that made her taller than me — I thought there was no way she’d be interested.”
But she certainly was.
“He made me feel like I could be myself, and that was really refreshing,” Erin says. “I could tell early on that he had a genuine heart and a peaceful presence — that was really appealing to me.”
Erin and Bart’s first date consisted of Bart’s car not starting, a nice walk to a local restaurant, a Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand concert and a riveting game of Scrabble. After six months of dating, Bart showed up on Erin’s doorstep with “will you marry me” spelled out on a Scrabble board.
Erin and Bart are the parents of a 1-year-old son, Vander, and a newborn daughter, Zoe.
“My initial attraction to Erin was that her beauty wasn’t only on the outside — she genuinely cares about people,” Bart says. “A little after we got married, she went to pick up pizza and she saw a guy stumbling down the alley who had obviously had too much to drink. Erin brought him into the pizza place, bought him food and sat down and talked with him to try and help him out. The owner was so impressed that he now gives us free pizza all the time. There are so many stories like that about Erin.”
Erin scouted out these three UtahValley beauties Katie Stayner, Ali Hill, Danyelle Julian and Jordynn Stayner. She styled them in clothes and accessories from Blend Fashions and Karma Boutique, and local photographer Emilie Decker took their photos at Spark Restaurant Lounge in Provo. Thanks to Suggestions Salon for the girls’ stylin’ dos and to Lyn Shelley and Dawn Weidauer for their beautiful make-up.
Erin’s modeling photos were taken in 2002 for Belleville, a popular brand in China. They were used in stores and catalogs, and on buses and billboards.
Erin and Bart Olson attended the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2005.
Erin’s husband, Bart, is the drummer for the famous Utah Valley-based group Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand (upper left). “Bart has been supportive of my involvement in the fashion industry from the beginning,” Erin says. “He’s even done the photography and sound for some of my events.”
Erin’s 10 Tips to All Around Beauty
1. Pay attention! Nothing is more beautiful than
noticing and helping someone in need of encouragement.
2. Be a great conversational- ist. Ask questions and
listen. By getting others to talk about themselves you will find common interests faster than if you were to just talk about yourself.
3. Find passion in service and forget about yourself. The result of service is true happiness.
4. Find the good in others even if they have done something to offend you. If you look for the good, you will find it.
5. Be optimistic! Life is hard, but you won’t learn any-
thing by being pessimistic.
1. Know the difference between fashion and style. Just wearing trendy clothes doesn’t mean you have style — get creative!
2. Build up a wardrobe that expresses your personality. Don’t buy romantic frills if you love wearing tailored classics.
3. Remember modesty. No matter how cliché it sounds, dressing mod- estly shows your confi- dence and self-respect.
4. The secret to glowing skin is moisturizer. Start when you’re young and you’ll prevent wrinkles.
5. Improve your posture by walking on the balls of your feet and not your heels.