How To Make A Living Modeling? There's An App For That

Ever wonder how models successfully keep track of their bookings and manage their money? An app founded by model Jessica Perez is helping free agents of the fashion industry get a better handle on those very important (but often overlooked) parts of the job.

Tycoon is a personal finance tool that helps freelancers keep track of theirs gigs; it debuted last month. Users log in the specific job, the rate they'll be paid, when the job takes place, and when the payment is supposed to come through. The app then alerts them when a payment is late according to the due date entered — that way, a user can keep track of past, pending, and missing payments in real time, and in one place. It's even color-coded, according to the status of each payment.

Photo: Courtesy of Tycoon.
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The concept stemmed from fiscal frustrations Perez observed as well as experienced first-hand in her own decade-long career as a model. "It's a common misconception that models' managers handle their books," Perez told Refinery29. "Only high-earning models can usually afford to pay a 5% fee to a business manager, on top of the 20% commission they already pay to their modeling agent." An agency can serve as a middle-man between models and clients, which can sometimes be an issue, Perez explained to Bustle earlier this year. However, because some models are represented by multiple agencies, the hope is that Tycoon would help free agents keep track of what (and how much) they're expecting from whom, so they can better "hold [agencies and clients] accountable" for what they owe.
Most models only have tax accountants to turn to when they have questions, Perez explains. There's not typically a money guru at-hand year-round to teach each model how to track her finances. Perez enlisted accountants early on in her career to help make sense of the books (eventually learning Quickbooks for herself), she told Bustle, but that isn't common. A lot of Perez's fellow models didn't really understand or keep track of specific numbers: "I've heard countless stories of models complaining about being ripped off financially, but when you ask them how much money they are owed, they usually don't know," Perez says.

It's also not uncommon for models to wait many months after a job to get a check in the mail. "Before I started tracking my jobs, I would often receive paychecks for jobs I didn't even remember doing," Perez recalls. This often leads to budgeting issues if, say, a model doesn't bring home as much as she was expecting, or get paid when she was expecting to.

While many features were designed with models in mind — like being able to enter multiple currencies to account for jobs all around the globe — Tycoon isn't just for the fashion set. There are also photographers, consultants, babysitters, graphic designers, personal trainers, and chauffeurs using the app, all of whom grapple with "a lag of time between when they perform a job and when they get paid," Perez says. Eventually, Tycoon will introduce a feature that allows users "to deduct commissions and estimated taxes from gross rates," which is helpful for anyone doing contract or freelance work who needs to know what their actual take-home pay will be.

Tycoon lets users feel more in control of what they're raking in by closely tracking their jobs, encouraging follow-up when a payment is overdue. To wit: You can program the app to send pre-written messages to clients that owe money. Ultimately, Perez set out to demystify the process of making a living by modeling (or via other freelance pursuits): "If you know how much money you're making, down to the cent, it empowers you to plan properly and make better financial decisions."
After nearly a year in development, the app was released on iTunes in October, and it's free to download. It'll be on the GooglePlay Store for Android devices later this month. So far, reviews have been positive on Apple's shop. Tycoon also publishes personal finance content on its blog.

Opener Image: Photographed by Alexandra R. Gavillet.
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