Breaking past barriers is no easy feat, especially when those barriers resemble an impenetrable, beautiful fortress that the fashion industry coincidentally resides inside. Nevertheless, model, activist, and newly-found podcast host, Allison Kimball, did not let these daunting odds paralyze her from creating new possibilities within the industry for a future generation of aspiring models who do not fit the current status-quo. Through channeling her natural-born public-speaking spark while assisting those to spark their inner passions, Allison can now be seen excelling within the podcast community via her original webcast, Spiked Kombucha Podcast. In this exclusive interview, Allison discusses how she initially entered the modeling industry, how she plans on breaking industry barriers, and what she has planned for the future.
Megan Morgante: Did anything/anyone, in particular, inspire you to enter the world of modeling?
Allison Kimball: During that time I entered the modeling industry, I was twelve-years-old, such a tomboy, and all I really cared about was playing outside, catching toads, and going fishing. But, as I got into it, I have really idolized a lot of the Victoria Secret’s models. I really liked how that whole company made the models more recognizable, you know their name and their face; they aren’t any other girl on a magazine cover. Then, of course, Sports Illustrated was huge for me as well. They really adapted into the industry while being so inclusive and non-judgmental of every body type.
MM: At just 5’6, you’ve set out to show the industry that all bodies are beautiful while simultaneously expanding the walls of the modeling industry. Explain your journey through navigating such an exclusive industry.
AK: To say that I’m 5’6 is generous [laughs]. I would say I'm 5’6 if I have really good posture and my hair's a little extra fluffy. I would show up to these castings and stand in line with all these other models that were significantly taller than me, and I would still have booked the job. Don't get me wrong, I've been rejected hundreds of times as well, but the moments I book those jobs is when I can prove to myself that I can do this just as much as another model can. My height should not determine my success and I think, in general, the industry is really evolving. It’s amazing that young girls can now grow up in an industry that is a lot healthier, more inclusive, and accommodating to all types of bodies.
MM: With that being said, have you ever experienced any notable challenges trying to fit into a certain mold within the modeling world?
AK: Oh my gosh, there are so many. With the main obstacle being my height, I've had situations where potential clients love my photos, love my work, and I was completely qualified for the job, but as soon as I walked in the door, I was told I’m too short. I've had countless experiences where I've been told no right out of the gate or even made fun of and mocked due to my height. For something like height or weight to be such a dividing factor within the industry is unfair, and that's something I knew I wanted to help change. I'm still working my butt off and I'm proving to these people like I am so capable of making it as a model. I’ve booked big jobs and I've worked with high-end fashion brands, and my height hasn’t stopped that from happening.
MM: Speaking of working with high-end brands, give an overview of your journey within the modeling industry, how you got started, and how you’ve evolved into working with big-time brands.
AK: My story is pretty clear and simple. I remember specifically when I was around fourteen, I sat down in my house, took out my whiteboard, a bunch of notepads, and I wrote out a plan. I knew modeling was what I wanted to do and I was setting the standard for myself at that moment. By the time I was eighteen, I had pursued almost everything I had dreamed. Not to say I still don't have larger, greater goals that I want to work towards, but those goals that I set for myself when I was fourteen on that little whiteboard, were accomplished. I wanted to get signed with Wilhelmina, and I did exactly that. It’s so empowering to have fulfilled those goals and I wish I could go back to my younger self and tell myself, “You're going to be just fine.” I think she would definitely be proud.
MM: Was there a particular moment when you felt you broke a personal barrier or booked your first particularly big job?
AK: I was about fourteen, so fairly young, and I got a call from my local agency in Massachusetts. She told me I booked a job and I was so excited. I thought it was just going to be for another local brand, but she told me it was for Sperry shoes. That was a really big deal for me because growing up in Cape Cod, Sperry shoes were the boat shoes. I remember having so much doubt that I wasn’t going to book it, and when I did I thought, “Wow, I did that.”
MM: You recently founded your own podcast, Spiked Kombucha Podcast… congratulations! Tell us a little bit about how you joined the podcasting community?
AK: The podcasting community is so amazing, it is truly meant for me. Modeling is obviously a huge part of my life, but I feel like I have a lot more to give. I needed another outlet and I wanted to do something where I could reach, help, and connect to a wide group of people. Podcasting checked off all of those boxes for me and it’s the perfect fit. I honestly just threw myself into it and didn't plan out too much, but, I just knew it was right for me. It's really about staying consistent and sticking with it, and here I am, so happy and fulfilled by it.
MM: What do you hope listeners will take away with them after indulging in your episodes?
AK: When I pursue things, I go all in. I have this fire in my soul and nothing can distract me. I want to be able to give that same fire and motivation to people and let them know that whatever they want to pursue, is possible. Not all goals are so far-fetched and if you really do pursue what you're truly passionate about, it’s the most rewarding feeling. There's always room for more people to have success in their lives and I am always wanting to carry people up with me. If I can contribute to somebody else's success then that's already rewarding enough for me.
MM: Do you have any passions or hobbies that you enjoy partaking in when you're not modeling or pursuing your podcast?
AK: This is like my double, Hannah Montana life, but I just love being outside. I spend most of my time surfing and snowboarding, and in the winter, I get to do both of those things. I'm currently in Massachusetts, so I can wear a really thick, pullover wetsuit and still go surfing. Competitive sailing is also a huge part of my life as well as gymnastics.
MM: Do you have any exciting upcoming projects set in the new year that you're particularly excited about?
AK: I'm in the process of releasing a book, which is pretty similar to the way the podcasts are structured. There's going to be a lot of missing pieces in both of them but if you listen to the podcast and read the book, they'll all fit together and it'll all make sense. They'll work together in diving into something super special and close to my heart. I also just got signed to an agency on the West Coast, which is awesome. And, hopefully, there will be some traveling for me in-the-near future.
MM: Congratulations on the new agency! If you could give a piece of advice to your younger self, what would that be?
AK: You don't have to act like you’re an adult just yet. You can allow yourself to be a child. I don't regret working my butt off, because it’s what got me to where I am today, so I'm very proud of that. But, I wish I could have just taught myself the balance I have now in terms of work and my personal life. I wish I knew about that healthy, important balance when I was younger because I think if I took more time to be mindful of not having to structure and schedule everything so heavily, I would have cracked the code.
MM: Where do you hope to see yourself in-the-near future, in terms of your personal life or your workspace?
AK: As for location, I could definitely see myself in Hawaii. That is a no-brainer for me, I feel like I belong there. I want to continue growing my modeling career and hopefully get representation in LA. I want to remove the stigma placed on shorter models within the industry and just see it evolve as a whole. I'm just living in the present moment and I think that's the best thing I can do for myself right now.
Photography Courtesy of Allison Kimball