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SS: How did you get your start in modeling? Do you have any advice for someone aspiring to model?
I grew up in Bulgaria. I was discovered at a market shopping with my mom at the age of 17. After attending a couple of beauty contests I received a contract from an Italian agency and went to try my luck in Milan. I was never the type of girl that wanted or dreamed of being a model…I looked at the career with a lot of skepticism and even negativism. I dreamed of other things like studying Law or Psychology because models were not regarded as respectable girls in my country at that time. I wanted to prove to everyone that good looking girls could be smart and still be hard-working and successful. I decided I will give Milan a try for three months only because modeling kept on pursuing me and it was all paid for. The next thing you know, I am a Model with eleven years of successful career behind me and still going strong. Those eleven years of modeling have definitely changed my mind about modeling and have made me a very strong, disciplined and hard working woman!
My advice to girls is to not pursue something like modeling if they think it’s easy and is a career that does not require much work. I believe that modeling could be very tricky because you definitely have to have the looks, but also you must be very strong-minded, have the character, and a lot of patience. My other advice to girls and boys entering this industry at a young age is to always set goals and never leave their school because of modeling. It’s a career that has an end and you need to have a plan on what you will do next.
SS: Name 5-10 beauty products you rely on:
1. I can’t live without this lip gloss by Dior!
2. Make Up For Ever HD Powder-the perfect finishing touch.
3. I love this foundation by Chanel– very light, soft, and also helps to keep my skin glowing and healthy.
4. I love my eye lash curler – everyone looks better with a well-defined eye!
5. In the summertime I particularly love La Mer SPF 15 face cream for my face and Johnson & Johnson baby oil for my body after I take my shower, it softens my skin and makes it glow.
6. I love Nivea cream for my face under my make up, it makes my skin glow and I have been using it since I started applying make up.
7. And last but not least I swear by facials and light chemical peels. It resurfaces your skin and keeps your face looking young and fresh.
SS: How does your career path influence your daily style?
My career influenced my style on a large scale because I started modeling so young and working with the best designers helped a lot in developing my personal style. I will never forget how one of my first big designers, Dolce & Gabbana, ripped a pair of jeans on me and made it look so cool and easy that I went home and started ripping up all my jeans and was doing it for friends for free. If Fashion is your job you will be definitely very influenced by it. I believe in personal style more than fashion. It is a very creative way of expressing how you feel or what your character is like. It is something you either have or you don’t have.
SS: How did you become first involved with the animal shelter?
My passion and love for animals has been there all my life. I remember when my first dog had puppies. They could not survive for some reason and that made me so sad. The Vet we called that night just said there is nothing that could be done and that the puppies would probably not survive the night. The Vets in my country were not very advanced, but what frustrated me the most was that he did not give us a reason to why the puppies would not make it. That night I promised myself that one day I would help animals in need.
Two years ago, I spoke to a friend that was involved with a High Kill Shelter and she said I could help. In particular, this shelter had a lot of Pitbulls and killed a lot of them daily. Since I have a Rottweiler, I know how discriminating people and society can be towards just the breed. I have had occasions where people yell and curse at me just for having my dog! It is pointless to explain that she is the sweetest dog you will ever meet. My personal experiences made me very passionate against all the Pitbull discrimination.
So, I went to the Shelter I saw many sweet souls that wanted and needed out. Of course I wanted to save all of them the instant I saw them, but I knew I could only handle one at a time. Someone told me there was this one pretty boy that needed help immediately. Barnabas was a young male Pitbull that the shelter wanted to kill. I fostered him and with the help of my dog walkers and the Vet he was restored to perfect health and adopted after a month. That was the beginning of my journey of being an activist and even though I can’t save dogs all the time, I do my best given the circumstances.
SS: Why Psychology? What are your plans with regard to the degree?
I always wanted to study Psychology; it fascinated me from a young age and I was also naturally very good at the subject. Traveling the world alone all my life had made me even more self-analytical. I always read a lot of books on psychology and tried to educate myself on the subject before school. It definitely helped me through the hardships of my life and my career. I also love helping people so being a therapist and combining two of my passion seemed logical after I am done modeling. My mom worked with orphans and I spent time with them every time I went home. I also learned from working with the orphans that helping others makes me feel good, and fueled my interest in psychology even more.
SS: How do you manage to balance your different work and school schedules? It is very hard to balance it all, so sometimes you have to sacrifice one thing over another. However, if you believe you are living and following your dreams, your career won’t feel like a chore even when the going gets hard.
SS: What are some of your favorite places around NYC?
There are so many places that I love in NYC. I love good restaurants, especially vegan ones: Love Hut, Pure Food and Wine, Blossom, and Cucina Ciano. I love my yoga studio, Yoga to the People. I love visiting Central Park when the weather is nice. I love the National Museum of History. Finally, I even love just walking around the streets of NY, that reminds me of why I fell in love with this special city nine years ago when I first arrived.