Beauty – a double-edged sword
Xenia Tchoumitcheva appears to have internalized the oft-heard jury demand for the whole deal. She is a model, a deejay, a moderator, an actress – and, as of late, a self-proclaimed entrepreneur. The latter is, however, certainly not what springs to mind when you first lay eyes on her. A cosmetic surgeon’s catalogue promising to provide their clients with her immaculate figure or her full lips would have an instant bestseller on hand. Xenia puts her looks down to a happy coincidence of nature. She is of Russian parentage and was quite simply born a stunner. But when she lists her heroes, the people she looks up to for inspiration, the names that are uttered by her oh-so-lovely lips are not Kate Moss or Heidi Klum, but Richard Branson, Winston Churchill, or Warren Buffet. We decide to close our eyes to avoid being distracted and be able to listen properly to what she has to say.
Beauty is timeless. People will always seek out beauty.
Xenia is not a coquette who pretends not to know the advantages her looks afford her. Fully aware of her beauty, she uses it to open doors and as a source of income. At the age of 12 she visited her first fashion show and within seconds ditched her childhood dream of becoming a detective for plans to become a model. A short while later, thanks to the unconditional support of her mother, she signed her first modeling contract and subsequently modeled when her fellow students pursued their hobbies. After four years, a first meaningful identity crisis reared its head. Is it right to accept money for displaying oneself? Doesn’t that mean that you are selling yourself to a certain extent? While the reading-riding-swimming clique at her school was dealing with their own problems, these questions became increasingly important to Xenia. And so she took some time off from modeling and started working as a waitress. She soon realized that the income was lower, but the principle remained the same: the better you market yourself, the higher the tip.
The better you market yourself, the higher your chance of success.
Following this insight and true to her entrepreneurial nature, she stopped waitressing and took up modeling again. In the year 2006 she participated in the Miss Switzerland competition and finished second. Whether fate or business acumen, this, too, proved to be very lucrative, and her career took off. She was contracted for well-paid assignments all over the globe, attended actor’s school in New York, and played a minor role in a movie alongside Eva Longoria. And, instead of investing the money she earned in property, she used it to enable herself to study economics in Lugano.
Two subsequent internships at prestigious financial companies helped Xenia move her image out of the Lolita corner into a more reputable direction. But further effort will be needed to permanently dislodge the image in people’s heads (as well as fewer appearances at waterslides and whirlpools openings). Determined as she is, Tchoumitcheva has decided to achieve this on her own, and is now her own manager.
I have no trouble with working 24 hours straight as long as I can decide when that should be.
People that are developed into an independent brand and who present themselves as such (e.g. Lady Gaga). Personality, behavior, appearance, and communication consistently reflect the brand identity.
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In the process of self-regulating her image, Xenia wants to establish herself as a brand and use that to develop a business. According to her, a brand is only a good brand when it has a strong inner core and does not just consist of an attractive shell. Based on this perception, she is now trying to apply that selfsame principle to herself by paying close attention to the core essence of her brand. Though always pleased to lend her looks or her name to a product, every cooperation with a different brand brings the need to ensure that the core values of both products are compatible. If they are not, they could rub off on each other – seldom a win/win situation. The actual objective is clear yet complicated at the same time: becoming a testimonial for yourself – and your own products.
In doing so, Xenia Tchoumitcheva is taking a cue from the growing awareness that, as a celebrity, it is increasingly hard to survive on a single talent alone. The new paradigm seems to be that the more disciplines you command in public entertainment, the greater chance you stand to become a human brand. The attraction of this being the opportunity to remain in the limelight even after your initial career is over. Why else would such stars as Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears, besides producing chart hits and marriage scandals, assiduously promote their own perfumes and fashions lines? The currently most active self-promoter is Stefani Germanotta who, as creative director at Polaroid, has recently developed picture-taking sunglasses alongside creating an uproar in the hit charts as Lady Gaga. Paris Hilton, embodiment of this multi-tracked strategy, has in the meantime become more brand than person. The bottom line is that these are all people with core characteristics which create recognition value. And, not least, with their public appearances and their work they create new worlds for their fans and admirers.
With all the effort that Xenia is putting into having a foot in many doors, it might prove difficult to remain focused on personal core values. Which makes that just one more discipline that needs to be mastered.
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