School girl in whirlwind since discovery
A Palmerston North teenager could soon be strutting her stuff on the catwalks of the world after modelling agents spotted her on Instagram.
Maia Cotton, 15, caught the eye of international modelling agencies after being discovered by Auckland-based agency 62 Models.
62 Models booker Andrea Plowright first saw a picture of Maia on the social media app Instagram.
"She was beautiful so I asked her to get her mother to contact me straight away," Ms Plowright said.
The Palmerston North Girls' High student flew to Auckland to meet with 62 Models a fortnight ago. A photo of her was then placed on the agency's Instagram profile.
"We just placed a digi taken on my iPhone of Maia and the reaction towards it was incredible," Ms Plowright said. "She's amazing, she's going to be big."
Ford Models New York and Next Model Management, both major international agencies, have expressed interest in signing Maia. These agencies are known for launching the careers of supermodels such as Miranda Kerr, Abbey Lee Kershaw and Holly Rose Emery.
Since being signed, Maia has been photographed for New Zealand clothing label Twenty Seven Names, working with well-known photographer James Lowe. Maia flies to New York next week with her mum, Luanne, to meet with agencies, before travelling to London and Paris.
She said she had dreamed of being in the fashion industry but never thought it could be a reality.
"I have always quietly really loved the idea of modelling, and have dreamed of doing it professionally for a very long time.
"I love fashion and if not modelling, I always thought I could do something in the business, although, I never thought of it as a real possibility until recently."
Maia has danced for many years and has had aspirations of pursuing a career in the artform.
"I always thought that I would end up being a professional dancer because that has taken up a lot of my life, and is a true passion of mine. But, modelling is something that really excites me, plus, it brings with it fashion and I love that."
Creativity is something that runs in Maia's family. Her father is highly regarded Palmerston North artist Shane Cotton, who was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2012 for his services to art.
"My parents and family are incredibly supportive. A lot of parents aren't willing to fly across the world with such short notice, so I am very lucky they understand."
Mrs Cotton said she would not have let Maia go on her own.
She said making sure Maia kept up with her NCEA level 1 school work would be a priority.
Maia said it was "crazy" how much her life had changed since she was spotted on Instagram.
"When I go to New York, I will be meeting with Ford, an agency based there, who are looking into signing me. With all of that I hope to squeeze in a bit of shopping in Soho, and maybe catching a show on Broadway. I am super excited and cannot wait.
"I have to say my dream would be to walk in New York Fashion Week, that way I could model for all my favourite designers."