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16 Mar

Lexi Placourakis – Model, Social Entrepreneur, Advocate

I enjoy the whole process. It touches me in a personal way. For me, I know my work is impacting a lot of women out there and that impact elates me, It makes me fell like I’m more then a pretty picture.

Creator Profile:

Lexi Placourakis + Model + Social Entrepreneur + Advocate

Creator: Lexi Placourakis (Instagram: @lexieleni & Facebook: @lexiplacourakisplussizemodel

Company:  Lexi Placourakis

Location: Scottsdale, Arizona

Website: lexiplacourakis.comlexiplacourakis.tumblr.com

Words of Wisdom – Don’t ever feel like you shouldn’t follow your dreams because of what society labels it. This is your life and you can create massive impact from going after your dreams. Not just for yourself, but for thousands, or even millions of people.

 

I’m amazed at what the human spirit can truly endure. Society can be tough when it tries to put labels on things and people.

And while everyone has a backstory, and I do mean everyone, some people just seem to have so much more endurance, tenacity and grace to overcome society’s labels and obstacles on their way to creating something massively impactful.

This brings me to Lexi Placourakis – model by modern society’s definition, social entrepreneur by mine.

What makes her a social entrepreneur? Well, Lexi’s measure of success is not based on things or money, but on social impact. She believes in a world that’s not controlled by labels, but by her ability to affect massive global change.

“I want to change the idea of one’s image about themselves. I want women to feel comfortable and confident with their entire presence. When that confidence is sparked in a woman, or in any human being for that matter, change doesn’t just happen, movements are created.”

Lexi is only 26, but her soul and her character say otherwise. Maybe it’s because she was catapulted into the plus-sized modeling world right out of High School.

Or maybe it’s the fact that she has had to manage her way through agencies’ definitions of beauty, retail brands’ perception of size and a global fan base’s need for acceptance by society. By the way, that global fan base is more than a quarter million, which probably gives her a reach well into the millions of people. Influence and impact.

Either way, Lexi did something that’s very cognizant of current trends – she took back her brand and manages herself like a responsible media company so she can actually define what it is that matters most to her audience. Of course, she does this while also building a portfolio that’s impactful and a force to be reckon with.

“Untouched, unedited photos. No problem. Here’s who I am. Now go do the same and feel good about yourself too. If I can do it, you can do it. We have to get out of this insane fog where people have a poor image of themselves because society has placed restrictions on people.”

Lexi is no stranger to self-image issues. She said her battles began in high school because she was considered “different.”

“I’m 6 feet tall and I wasn’t your normal size girl. I remember having to eat lunch with teachers or in the bathroom because I wasn’t accepted. I was always big boned and high school was really rough for me. I don’t think anyone should have to go through that.”

It was during this moment of our interview I found myself speechless.

How could someone with such inner and outer beauty be in a situation like that? She had no idea at the time of this interview, but I truly felt bad by hearing this. You can learn a lot about an individual when you look them in the eyes as they tell you something deep and personal.

And while I felt saddened momentarily, I quickly remembered that moments like Lexi’s breed champions. Listen carefully when I say this, Lexi isn’t just a champion, she’s got the potential to disrupt an entire industry!

As I sat down with Lexi for coffee, we talked about her perspectives on body image, the politics of the modeling industry, her love for her childhood home in Hawaii and what it means to have real impact on women all over the world. Here’s what she had to say:

Lexi Placouraskis - Model, Entrepreneur, Advocate

HDF: Lexi, you are awesome!! You really are! Which is why I’m looking forward to getting to know your background and the brand you’re building

Lexi: Really?! (laughter). Thank you for doing this interview with me!

 

HDF: I know you’re currently living in Scottsdale, but tell me a little bit more about where you’re from, what you love about it and what you like about being in Arizona?

Lexi: Well, I was born and raised in Oahu, Hawaii and I absolutely loved being there! It was great growing up in a place with so much culture and a group of people who had so much pride for their state.

You can really grow up as a “free spirit” there, you know? There’s something to be said about the people who were raised in Hawaii.

I like it here as well. It’s different and it’s definitely a culture change, but being here I feel like opportunities are endless. You can go to L.A. and be in one culture, or many there (laughter), but then you can also go to Las Vegas or back east to New York. In Hawaii, all you can do is drive around the island and that’s about it.

Also, being here has afforded me opportunities that I might not have otherwise had to make for myself because it’s so independent here.

 

HDF: You’re right, it’s very independent.

So, I know you have your personal brand, Lexi Placourakis, but I’d love to know more about what led up to your current endeavors. What were you doing before this?

Lexi: Well, I got signed to an agency right out of high school. So, I’ve been modeling since I was 19.

 

HDF: So much for the bs you had to endure in high school, huh?

Lexi: (Laughter) Funny how that works.

Modeling wasn’t new for me because my mom had a background in it so I was very familiar.

One day she decided to have some photos taken of me and the photographer said I should go see Sheree at Ford | Robert Black here in Arizona. We met, she signed me and I’ve had her through everything.

 

HDF: How does that work with agencies?

Lexi: Here’s how it works. She’s considered my mother agency, which means she can market me to other agencies who might also have clients interested in working with me. At the end of the day, Ford Robert Black is my mother agency.

After Ford, I got signed to other agencies, but I wasn’t really working a lot. Plus size modeling was still relatively new. Also, I wasn’t really happy with myself.

Imagine, I’m considered a working model, but I’m still not happy with the way I look within my category of size. So, one day I just got up and decided to do something about it, and quickly, but still at my own pace. I ended up dropping 60 pounds and gaining 60 times the confidence.

Here’s the irony with that. Because I lost 60 pounds, other agencies were not as supportive because I’m not heavy enough. In fact, if I was heavier, I’d be working a lot more.

At least now, and thanks to models that I look up to like Denise Bidot, Robyn Lawley & Ashley Graham, there’s finally a movement for size 8-14 and that’s exactly where I’m at. That’s where I work.

 

HDF: Now, the way I know you is from you repping your brand. I was introduced to it from some close people within your circle, as well as from you, and I feel like you’re running it to the fullest. How did you transition to this phase where you’re in charge of building your own brand?

Lexi: I realized that as great as agencies are, they have a lot of models to manage and they want to make money. I am not a supermodel, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try to get out there and make an impact.

 

HDF: And that’s when you decided to go the social media route?

Lexi: Yeah. As you know I have a son (Jaxson), and when I was pregnant with him I thought maybe I should start a fan page for myself. At first it was because I wanted to differentiate my personal life from my professional.

Since I was pregnant and a plus sized model, I thought the timing was perfect to experiment. From there I started building my page and referring people over there so they can follow my career.

That’s when I realized I should be using social media to my advantage.

Lexi Placouraskis - Model, Entrepreneur, Advocate

Lexi Placouraskis - Model, Entrepreneur, Advocate

HDF: You mean that’s when you realized that a person who has a solid following on social media has a lot of power? (Laughter)

Lexi: Absolutely. Now, I’m connecting with my audiences and developing the relationships that matter. Now I can get their input, hear their stories, learn their struggles and have active conversations with them. That’s way more powerful then just representing yourself as a model in a catalogue.

 

HDF: Can you tell me about some of the brands or magazines you’ve worked with?

Lexi: Sure. I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with JC Penny, Neiman Marcus, Kohl’s and Vanity because of my agencies.

And from my personal branding, I’ve developed relationships with Sorella Swim, Hips & Curves and Plus Size Model Magazine, all of which I have worked with.

I originally submitted myself to Plus Size Model Magazine for a contest they were running, but I didn’t win. That’s okay because they kept me in mind and ended up using me for something else. This is why I always stress marketing yourself for campaigns. You never know what may come out of it.

 

HDF: So it’s a good balance between agencies and managing your personal brand?

Lexi: Yeah. I think agencies are great, but with social media today there is no reason not to market yourself and your message as well.

As I mentioned earlier, there’s a lot of beautiful women in the world and I know my time will be up one day. Because of that, I want to take advantage of this time as much as I can and own it. The way I see it, building your own brand builds value to the next phase of your life.

HDF: And social media has been an outlet for you building your brand?

Lexi: Yeah.

 

HDF: What was your first social media platform?

Lexi: My first social media was Tumblr. I didn’t know where to start so I started there. At first I thought, “Who’s going to see this? Who’s going to see my pictures and understand what I’m trying to represent from my perspective.

Then you see someone develop a “hashtag” around your movement. That’s when it becomes real. That’s when you know you’re on to something relevant.

That’s when I started to think,

“Maybe I can affect at least 1 girl. Even if it’s 1 person I have impact on, it’s worth it.”

Lexi Placourakis Tumblr

HDF: I couldn’t agree more!! At first you wonder, “I wonder if anyone’s listening.” When I created Hustle & Deal Flow™ I needed an outlet. I was going through a time where I needed a place to express myself and my creativity while bringing awareness to people I thought that mattered.

It becomes very real once you start seeing thousands of followers and they start telling you things like,

“This made my day.”

“I’m glad I’m not the only one because I thought it was just me.”

“Thank you for sharing this. It means a lot to me.”

That’s the thing about having followers on social media. Once they start sharing your content, you know it’s worth it.

There’s usually a lot of debate around follower counts and impact? What do you think about having so many followers being that you do?

Lexi: Numbers don’t mean half as much as the Facebook “people talking about this” numbers. I’d rather have a small amount of followers with big impact than all the followers in the world. That’s the thing about number counts. They don’t mean anything unless people are engaging with your message or your content.

Shares mean everything. That means the post meant something to someone enough for them to want to share it with others. That’s when your message can truly get out there, and on occasion, go viral.

Lexi Placourakis Facebook

 

HDF: How have people reached out to you? What have they told you about the impact you have on them?

Lexi: It’s unbelievable the messages I get.

I’ve had fathers who have daughters that have confidence issues enough to make them not want to go to school or even think about ending their lives., they want to thank me for helping them get thru it.

I’ve had women tell me that they bought their first swimsuit in years because of me, or that I have had such a huge impact on them, their daughter, their spouse, etc.

I’ve also heard from single moms and they want advice on parenting, regaining their confidence after what pregnancy did to their bodies. or just to feel confident again.

Some women have even contacted me on how to get into the industry.

No two messages are alike, but all the issues are very real.

In essence, I turned my issues into a positive aspect of my life and now I’m helping others deal with their issues just the same.

Impact.

 

HDF: What about men? Do men ever contact you about their wives or girlfriends? Some men really like the size of their women, but their women may not like the size of themselves.

Lexi: I do! I get men who say, “I wish my wife had more confidence. What advice can you give me that would help her feel better?”

They like confident women and they love their wives the way they are. It’s weird but you realize they too, are affected by body image issues, just indirectly.

 

HDF: Wow! I don’t know if you realized it, but you’ve officially created your own movement. As a model, businesswoman and social entrepreneur (as I like to call you), what is the best part about creating for you?

Lexi: 

“I enjoy the whole process. It touches me in a personal way. For me, I know my work is impacting a lot of women/girls out there and that impact elates me, It makes me fell like I’m more then a pretty picture.”

I also love being in front of the camera. It’s not about being on film. For me, it’s knowing the photos are going to impact a lot of women. That right there is exciting. Knowing that I might impact people makes me proud everyday to do what I do. I even had one photo go viral to 1 million. That’s both crazy and humbling to me.

And while its always easy for me to be in front of the camera, there are times and days I am not feeling my most confident self. I think every women feels it. I just take my confidence, capture it and hope it rubs off on other people that need it.

 

HDF: Lexi, you are really ahead of your time. Young and ambitious, but so humble and driven by the bigger picture.

Can I ask you further about some obstacles you’ve encountered along the way? Anything you’d like to share or lessons learned that might be helpful?

Lexi: I think the biggest obstacle is loving yourself. Really think about that. I know that sounds like a “Miss USA world peace” kind of answer, but it’s really true. Loving yourself completely is both hard work and freeing. There’s freedom in that.

Freedom from pain, negative people, bad situations, etc. In my job alone, there are obstacles every day cause you’re not going to please everyone. Lot’s of opinions and disagreements about what is and isn’t plus size or model-like, etc. So you have to really love who you are while you deal with everyone else.

For me, it’s simple. I believe in being happy, healthy and confident. I’m not going to say what’s the best size or what’s sexier. There are beautiful women all over the world that are 6’s, 10’s, 14’s and so on. I don’t preach labels or correct sizes. I preach confidence.

Another obstacle is the definition of beauty. What is beauty? My son is growing up in a world where beauty is labeled everywhere.

“Beauty is something that starts inside. That’s why I like showing my personality through my pictures, as well as showing the backstory of what goes into the modeling shoots. I’ll show you the whole process of what really goes into it and the unedited versions.”

HDF: So you must know your brand very well then. (Laughter). How do you describe it?

Lexi: Women power. (laughter). I would say I’m very into a woman feeling good about themselves. You don’t need to be on a magazine cover or have a man to feel good about yourself. You are amazing always. Own it. Whatever you do, just own it. If you don’t like yourself, get up and do something about it. That is my brand. CONFIDENCE.

 

HDF: You mentioned the modeling industry can be tough and there are politics at times. What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring models?

Lexi: Use social media to your advantage. Once you know what you stand for, put it out there and build. Build your audience and grow a relationship with them.

As for your modeling, don’t be afraid to send your stuff in to various companies. They may not need you now, but you are now on their radar. That’s how I booked my Plus Model Magazine spread, which was my first one ever.

To that point, agencies aren’t everything. They’re a very integral part, but they’re not everything. So, if you’re building your brand through social, sending in for campaigns and developing a following, the right people will find you.

Finally, don’t ever feel like you shouldn’t follow your dreams because of what society labels it. Just go do it because you feel like you should.

 

HDF: Lexi, you are inspiring for such a young age. Thank you for allowing me to interview you and get to know your backstory. I really believe you’re meant for even bigger things at the rate you’re going, and a big part of that has to do with your character. Thank you!

Kirk: Thank you!!

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Matt Gottesman

Matt Gottesman is a global digital strategist and technology advisor, creator and editor-in-chief of Hustle & Deal Flow™ - an online magazine dedicated to the world's entrepreneurs, creators and makers, a Social Media Influencer and a consultant on New Media and go-to-market strategies for investments in digital marketing, technology, websites, mobile applications, eCommerce, social media and content.