She runs a modelling agency and is a qualified humanitarian lawyer, but Natalie Nunn said it is possible to pursue two very different passions.
Nunn is the director of Giant Management, a Melbourne-based modelling agency that represents models, influencers and creative talent.
The 33-year-old made her start in the family business as a teenager, helping out with bookkeeping, selecting imagery for models, running errands and doing anything else that was needed.
Nunn’s mother Lucy Kiraly was one of Australia’s first top models. When her modelling career was winding up, she began producing fashion shows and was offered the opportunity to purchase Giant Management.
Subsequently, Nunn grew up in change rooms of fashion parades, working with stylists and calling models for fashion week.
She later pursued a career in law and stepped back from the agency, but always knew that she would eventually return.
A few years ago, the opportunity arose to take the reins at Giant Management and Nunn has since been proud to steer the direction of the agency.
A varied role
In Nunn’s role at Giant Management, no two days are ever the same.
She said on any given day she deals with everything from booking campaigns to arranging castings, building folios, making model cards, placing models overseas, arranging training, meeting new talent, meeting with interstate and overseas agencies, and liaising with clients.
Despite the demanding nature of her job, Nunn truly enjoys her work, including managing and developing the models.
“There is so much exploitation in the modelling industry and so many horrible stories of agencies mistreating models. When my mother took over Giant Management, she decided to develop the agency into one that looked after its models holistically,” she said.
“When I took over, I made it the mandate of Giant Management that we would be the most nurturing agency out there. We provide training and practical support for our models, as well as emotional support and wellbeing advice.”
Nunn also enjoys growing the business. Since becoming director, she has launched three new divisions of the agency – Giant Creative, Giant Junior and Giant Thanks.
Giant Creative provides photographers, make-up artists and stylists to brands; Giant Junior is Australia’s leading children’s modelling agency; and Giant Thanks is the agency’s charitable division and the first charitable arm of a modelling agency in the country.
“I have loved encouraging gratefulness in the industry and we often involve our talent and clients in selecting charities to give to. By doing that, everyone in the Giant community can help give back,” Nunn said.
A changing industry
Over the past 10 years, Nunn has noticed a lot of changes to the modelling and agency industry. Most significant has been the use of technology to market models.
“When I first started working with the agency, we would print model cards and send them out in physical packs to clients. These huge, bulky envelopes would go out to hundreds of clients regularly and the waste was terrible,” Nunn said.
“When I took over management, one of the first things I did was restructure how we created model cards. We made the decision to go completely electronic to save paper and printing, and to align with my passion to be an environmentally-friendly business.”
Social media has also had a big influence.
Nunn said the agency no longer has full control over which images of their talent are being seen by clients.
“Gone are the days of agencies presenting a model in a very specific way, based on a card and folio of 10 images. However, social media has also allowed models to gain more exposure and this can also lead to more opportunities, so we have a love-hate relationship with it,” she said.
Modelling and law collide
While Nunn is in her element running Giant Management, she also had a successful career as a lawyer.
She studied an undergraduate degree in law, qualified as a barrister and solicitor, then worked overseas as a lawyer before specialising in international humanitarian law.
After working on a research paper about chemical warfare, Nunn returned home to Australia. Her mother asked if she was able to step in and run Giant Management for a few months and Nunn thought it would offer a good break from the confronting issues associated with war crimes.
She enjoyed the change of pace, worked on restructuring some parts of the business, and five years on is still running the agency.
While the modelling world and law don’t often intersect, Nunn said she is still passionate about both career paths.
“My area of law is international humanitarian law (the laws of war) and arms control, so you really could not get more divergent areas. That said, I am equally passionate about both careers, and it is my strong belief that you can have fulfilling divergent careers if you structure it properly,” she said.
“With the introduction of Giant Thanks, I have been able to create a little bit of overlap and our most recent charitable donation was to UNICEF to help provide food and clean water to children suffering in conflicts. That was a lovely opportunity to see the modelling world and humanitarian world collide.”
Nunn is in the process of completing a PhD focusing on regulating lethal fully autonomous weapon systems (often referred to as ‘killer robots’) under international law.
While her research is not related to modelling or fashion, Nunn enjoys pursuing both passions but admits the juggle can be challenging.
“The agency is so fast-paced and when things happen, they need attention immediately. It’s a regular occurrence that I will be settling in for some reading and get a text or call about a job or a model and I have to put the reading aside and turn my brain back to agency mode,” she said.
For anyone looking to break into the modelling agency world, Nunn strongly advises gaining a realistic understanding of the industry.
“While it is very exciting and a lot of fun, it is also a lot of grunt work – a lot of answering emails in the middle of the night, dealing with expectations of multiple parties, keeping a level head when people are getting flustered. It requires a strong work ethic, a lot of self-drive and the ability to really put others’ needs ahead of your own,” she said.
Nunn also believes in following your passion, no matter how divergent the interests are.
“I had a lot of people say it was impossible to run a business and do a PhD simultaneously. Throw in a pregnancy and then a new baby into the mix and people thought I was genuinely insane. But anything is possible if you want it badly enough,” she said.
Nunn continues to pursue both passions – just recently she attended meetings about arms control at the United Nations in Geneva and then went to London Fashion Week.
“It’s a crazy mix, but I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to immerse myself in both my areas of interest at the highest levels, and I encourage anyone else who has a passion to throw themselves in,” she said.
“Life is too short not to grab every opportunity.”