Cliché: When did you first become interested in modeling?
Cas Jerome: I became seriously interested in modeling when I was a sophomore in high school. I grew up feeling very unpretty but decided that I wanted to try to build a following online because I never saw myself gaining mainstream success. I didn’t think I would be able to break into the modeling industry ever so this was just the next best thing. Fast forward 5 years and I found myself plastered in the front of every Hot Topic in the nation along with so many other mind blowing achievements. The last 2 years have been huge for my career. I’ve modeled for brands such as Dr. Martens, Vans and Abercrombie to name a few. More importantly I no longer feel unpretty and I’m so ready to take the world by storm. I finally believe that mainstream success for someone that looks like me is possible, and also extremely necessary.
Why did you choose to be a freelance model as opposed to being represented by an agency?
When I started modeling I was completely inexperienced. The first shoot I ever did was with a local photographer and I remember spending days feeling worried about it. I never took photos other than selfies growing up, I felt so uncomfortable in front of a camera that wasn’t in my own hands. There was no way I could confidently walk into a modeling agency and give them anything to work with. Now that I’ve had 3 years of experience it is definitely second nature to me. I feel so comfortable in front of the camera, it’s actually where I feel the happiest. I was made to do this. I recently decided that I’m ready to sign with an agency, I have learned so much from working for myself and it will affect the way I handle any situation I am in whether I’m signed or not. Not only have my skills improved, but I think the world is finally ready to accept different beauty standards.
Were you surprised that brands have gravitated to you so quickly?
Of course! My first paid partnership was with Doc Martens which felt completely unreal to me. It’s not very common that people get to work with such a huge brand for their first collaboration so I felt very lucky. Growing up I had always wanted a pair, but they were so expensive I always decided to settle for off brand ones. I couldn’t fathom that the company I had coveted so much, wanted to not only send me shoes, but also wanted to pay me to promote them. I’ve worked with numerous brands over the years and am so grateful for every single campaign I’ve secured. I pride myself on the growth of my content, the creativity that goes into all my shoots is what keeps me happy as an influencer and model. I do tend to make things rather complicated for myself sometimes, but I know that brands value the unique content I decide to create with them.
How have you approached brands yourself?
I get this question countless times from followers and also from my friends but truthfully I have never reached out to a company myself, I’ve always trusted that the work I needed to do would find me, and so far for the past 2 years that I’ve been putting out sponsored content I’ve been kept busy! That is usually the fear of freelance workers, a lot of the work is finding potential clients but I think I’ve just been lucky. It’s all thanks to my amazing audience who shares my work and keeps me motivated to create.
Have you ever had a low point or felt a sense of failure? How did you overcome this moment?
Plenty of times, it actually something I struggle with a lot. I love putting out content that I am 100% happy with, I guess I just hold myself to a very high standard, which is never a bad thing. I know I’m not a failure but I am also not one to compare myself to anyone. I compete only with myself, so if I make something that I don’t feel fits my vision completely I tend to be a little hard on myself. I think in a way it’s not a bad thing because it keeps me thinking of ways to improve. I know that anyone that works in a creative field feels similarly. You’re putting your heart and soul into your projects, if it doesn’t mean that much to you, then what’s the point?
What advice do you have for other aspiring influencers, makeup artists, and models?
Not everyone has the drive to succeed but everyone wants to be famous. In order for you to have drive, you need to love what you’re doing. It’ll be so simple to give up if you can’t really put your heart into your work. There has to be a bigger reason for wanting fame. Personally, a huge driving factor of mine is I know that I represent the Indian community through my work. I want to be able to give a face of representation for my people in the beauty and model space. That has always been my dream, and it’s what keeps me going even when I feel like a failure.
Is there a lesson that you’ve learned so far in your career that you wish you had known in the beginning when you started?
I am really proud of my journey so far, and I know that I have so many more lessons to learn. One thing I wish I could have known in the beginning is quality always wins over quantity. I felt like somewhere along the way, I would just post something to post something. I can’t imagine myself doing that now because every post I do share is important to me.
It’s an unfortunate fact of the industry that racism and colorism often permeates the beauty community, which has a tendency to glorify whiteness and fairer skin tones. How can we better uplift and support the careers of BIPOC beauty influencers?
There are a million things that need to be changed for BIPOC beauty influencers. We are not represented nearly as much as we should. Racism is so deeply rooted within the community, there are still luxury brands who don’t cater to my skin tone at all. My peers who are white generally have been paid more than me on campaigns and also are selected for higher and more influential jobs. There have been times where I’ve felt like I’ve been hired because a brand wants to seem progressive, I would love to see that attitude change in the beauty community. Make us a norm, not a statement.
What are you most excited about in the near future, both personally and professionally?
I am so excited to solidify myself in the beauty and modeling world. For the first time in my life I feel hopeful that maybe I will reach the level of success my younger self dreamed of. I feel so humbled by the support of so many amazing followers who have transformed my life. I look forward to continue making a connection with everyone that feels like they see a little of themselves in me.