Leveling up

Shanae Strachan jumps from fit model to the forefront of New York & Company as a curve model, adding to her growing portfolio

Shanae Strachan may have some impressive work to her credit in the curve model arena over the course of the past year-and-a-half after relocating to New York to pursue a dream she’s had since childhood, but if you ask her, she still said she is just getting started, and that she is daily striving to be a better person as a model, actress, documentary host, poet and creative.

“I’m all about ascending and leveling up, so whatever it is that I’m doing today, I expect and work hard to accomplish even greater things in the next chapter,” said Strachan, who was recently revealed as a curve print model for women’s clothing and accessories company New York & Company.

She made the jump to print model for the brand from their fit model last year. A fit model is someone who tries on clothing for fashion designers. They check things like the fit and drape of the fabric, as well as the overall appearance. Fit models are basically live mannequins who meet specific height, bust-waist-hip, arm, leg and other measurement requirements.

“I started off as a fit model for them (New York & Company) last year, and now I’m at the forefront,” said Strachan, who is signed to State Management agency in New York.

“I’m happy to be a part of their family. My favorite thing about working with this is their team, which is mostly all women who are dedicated to uplifting and empowering women through fashion. I know that many Bahamians shop there and love their fashion so it’s been a wonderful experience to represent our culture and people.”

Strachan, a third runner-up in the 2013 Miss Universe Bahamas pageant and a former employee at the Ministry of Tourism, left home in 2017 to pursue modeling full time, which she said is a dream she has had since she was a child.

“Growing up, I was obsessed with dressing up and makeup. I would spend hours playing with clothes and my aunt’s makeup. Fashion, for me, is the most beautiful art form of all. I love it all – the sewing, the textiles, the styling and of course the modeling. As a model, you are entrusted to make the clothes come to life. You get to tell the story of whatever it is that the designer is trying to say and no story is ever the same. It’s exciting, and I’m grateful for the stories that I’ve helped to co-create.”

To make that dream a reality meant relocating to New York. Strachan settled in Brooklyn in late 2018.

She started with State Management New York in February 2019, a model management company representing some of the fashion industry’s most in-demand models and artists.

“It was definitely a dream come true to be signed with them. In the beginning when you’re new, there is a lot of figuring out to do – like your look, what your market is, what’s your brand, but once you get in the groove of things and you become comfortable in your skin, it’s smooth sailing.”

Strachan’s portfolio describes her as standing five feet, eight-and-a-half inches tall with blonde hair and brown eyes.

“In the beginning, you can hear a lot of no’s, but you just have to be ongoing and growing, every day – becoming a better artist and gaining a deeper understanding of the industry.”

Strachan recalled being booked for the first casting she went to – a job for a swimsuit designer, luckily for her.

“That was definitely a feeling of OK, I’m going in the right direction.”

The New Providence-raised Strachan was the first curve model to walk the runway for couture designer Sherri Hill. She has since become the muse of Serena Williams’ S by Serena Williams, starring in Williams’ runway shows and campaigns.

She has also worked with Skims by Kim Kardashian, and was a Bravo TV’s Project Runway Season 18 Finale model.

In the industry, Strachan is known for her captivating walk.

“I’m grateful that I get to do what I love,” Strachan told The Nassau Guardian from New York. “The workload is very demanding, but it’s also a lot of fun. No day is ever the same.”

Strachan’s modeling career highlights also include a TULA skincare campaign, Vogue Italia feature, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit search finalist, Lounge Underwear runway model, Klenfield Bridal runway model, NY Times fashion feature and Glamour magazine feature.

Despite her successes to date, Strachan said she feels she still has so much more to accomplish.

“I’m just getting started,” she said.

As she continues to realize her dreams, Strachan said she wants to continue to work with brands that understand, respect and empower Black people, especially Black women.

“There have been companies that I may have wanted to work for in the past, but after seeing their lack of support for Black and brown people living in America and around the world, I no longer want my brand to be aligned with theirs. For me, the most important thing is the message; is your fashion promoting and uplifting our people? If yes, cool, and if it’s a no, that it is a hard pass for me.”

And modeling is not a side gig for Strachan – something to pursue after her nine to five. Modeling is her full-time job. She said she’s also progressing in the acting arena, having co-starred in a few short films and commercials.

She was a supporting actress in Derrick Wade’s short film “The Reading”, had a lead role in an off-broadway theater show “A Sketch of New York” and is a former host and producer of Tourism Today Bahamas.

“Right now, there are a few acting projects as well as documentary films that I’m working on. Unfortunately, I can’t fully speak about it at the moment, but I will say stay tuned – it will be worth it.”

Strachan is also not just another pretty face. She graduated magna cum laude from Munroe College with a Bachelor’s degree in hospitality management at the age of 19. 

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Shavaughn Moss

Shavaughn Moss joined The Nassau Guardian as a sports reporter in 1989. She was later promoted to sports editor. Shavaughn covered every major athletic championship from the CARIFTA to Central American and Caribbean Championships through to World Championships and Olympics. Shavaughn was appointed as the Lifestyles Editor a few years later.

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