Her first big break was a fall campaign for AG hair products shot in Vancouver by Waldy Martens that received nation-wide exposure. The following spring she landed a campaign for Plenty. Aritzia is also on her client list. Local bookings kept her busy, but it was her first contract to work in Tokyo, received almost three years ago, that launched Kayleen's career onto the international stage. "I think that was the moment when everything changed for me. It was a really hard and scary thing to do. I left my apartment, my friends, my family, my school and my boyfriend and came to Japan by myself to do a three month contract. It was the best decision I ever made. There is no way I could work full-time modeling in Vancouver. I love Japan! The money is good, the food is amazing and the people are so nice. I'm glad to call this place home."
Japan is a country of consumers making Tokyo a very busy market to work in. New products are always being launched creating a steady demand for models. Days are long and can be stressful. A model might attend 5 to 10 castings a day, driving around the large city in a van with a manager and other models from around the world. Navigating the narrow streets takes patience, a GPS is mandatory and you absolutely CANNOT be late for castings. For Kayleen, "My work situation in Tokyo is really like no other. The day usually consists of a 6 or 7 a.m. call-time, around 1.5 to 2 hours of hair and make up prep and 8 to 12 hours of shooting, depending on the job. An average work week for me ends up being around 4 or 5 jobs, but in some cases I've done 15 or so [jobs] in a row and sometimes two in one day." Over the last 3 years she has also worked in Thailand, Hong Kong and Shanghai, usually for 2 to 3 months at a time, with her home base in Tokyo. Living out of a suitcase is hard and she looks forward to her yearly trips back to Vancouver to reconnect with family and friends.
For those hoping to enter the world of modeling Kayleen has some great advice - don't sell yourself short, make it happen, practise, build a portfolio with the tears necessary to be taken seriously, put yourself out there, don't be afraid of rejection and don't take no for an answer. "Even if no one else thinks you can, as long as you know you can, that is all that matters. Believe me!" She was also willing to share a few of her beauty tips. "Moisturizer for the airplane is a must. No matter where you are going, the air is so thin and dry up there. There is nothing like a freshly moisturized face in the morning...nothing!" Other tips include - limit the amount of foundation you put on, use a water based one (better for your skin) and travel light by only bringing one or two of your favourite eye shadows.
With five years of modeling already under her belt and her career still on the rise, it may be awhile before we see the launch of her own collection. That said, given her determination it is sure to become a reality. The following quote really defines Kayleen's personal statement of who she is and where she is headed. "I am a creative individual and I think of myself as an artist before anything else. I'm very emotional and feel I have a way of looking at things that not a lot of people can see. I have to lot to say. My impact in the fashion industry needs to be self-propelled. I need to challenge myself and find a route that is right for me - I believe I owe it to myself." Beauty, talent and determination are all an integral part of this home-grown talent and these qualities will definitely propel her to even greater success in the future.
For bookings or to see Kayleen's portfolio go to the JCI website at http://www.jcvancouver.com/portfolios/women/kayleen/gallery.htm. To read the original VFE 2007 article go to http://vancouverfashionezine.com/magazineissue01/newface.html. Her blog can be found at kayleenfranklin.blogspot.com.