Getting up close and candid with Dominique Elissa Faludi
Dominique Faludi is basically the ultimate trifecta. Hot, smart, and now powerful to boot – thanks to her almost 100K followers on social media account Dominique Elissa. After a picture of Dominique at a recent shoot for swimwear brand Ete popped up in my Instagram Explore feed – I immediately wanted more. More of the person behind the image, more of her insane #bodygoals, more of the shoot… just more. So I went hunting.
And here it all is. Our very real and open chat with Dominique about what life’s like for this model/influencer… accompanied by all the shoot shots [and they say stalking and harassment is a bad thing! ?]
First off, how did you get into influencing and what helped you grow?
I’d say my main tip is always authenticity and just being true to yourself. I didn’t ever think I was going to have a following, I never thought I would become a model… I went to school and went to uni. In between school and uni I took a gap year and travelled around for four months, and in that time I was posting pictures of my travels and putting a bit of effort into the pictures I was posting. I got such a good response from it! I really enjoyed it, even just being in front of an iPhone camera – I liked the creative process of it all and having the chance to style and make the image exactly how I wanted it.
When I got back from my travels I was 19 and a lot of freelance photographers were messaging me to do test shoots. I was scouted when I was much younger but I didn’t really like the modelling industry that much, so I didn’t really get involved with it and instead focused on my studies. But then I did a few test shoots and it just went from there. I got a paid job here and there and it was just a very organic growth.
I was always myself on shoots from day one, and I think a good word of mouth and just being a positive person will always get you far, no matter what. So my biggest advice would just to be positive, especially on your Instagram! No one wants to follow someone who’s complaining, which surprisingly a lot of people do. And just be authentic – if you’re a bit quirky, be a bit quirky.
Are you currently a full-time model and influencer?
I’m in my third year of a business degree, but I made the decision to defer this semester – so at the moment I’m modelling full-time. You’ve got to have time to go to the gym and other things for yourself and your mental health, you need time to see all your friends. Last semester was just very hard for me to balance uni, friendship, fitness, modelling, Instagram… it was too much. I’ve always been a very studious person, so for me to take off six months is quite a big deal – but it’s already paying off! I’ve got to do lots of travel… it was a good decision.
Can you talk me through what goes on behind-the-scenes of a picture found on your Instagram?
Of course! Today I met up with a brand to discuss five looks I’m doing for them – then they’re sending me a styling brief and I have to get these photos done in a short time frame, styled, sent in, make sure they approve them, and then post the shot. There’s a lot of things that goes on behind an IG shot when you’re working with a brand. Even with a post where they just want to take a photo of your outfit or something like that, there’s a lot of pressure when you have a following because so many people will see it. My biggest thing is also, because I do a lot of bikini shots but want to be a good influence, you have to make sure you look healthy and fit. There’s a lot of things you need to consider when you post a photo because the internet will go crazy or something if it’s not right – if you’re too skinny or too big!
Well, we saw the recent bikini shoot you did with Ete Swimwear, and we can only think of good reasons why this one would send the internet crazy…
Thank you! We did a shoot down at Bronte to Bondi and it was awesome. The Ete founder is from Perth and she’s only 24 and I’m only 22 – she’s got a whole swimwear label and she’s killing it! It was such a fun day. The photographer was Cait Miers from Melbourne and the makeup artist was Joanna Luhrs – I work with her all the time as well and it was just an awesome day. I think people often think bikini shoots are the most stressful because you have to look a certain way, but in reality they’re the most fun! You’re at the beach, they’re putting oil on you, it’s a dream…
Definitely looked dreamy from the pics! I think I might need to put some of the pieces on my shopping wish list…
Yeah, they’re awesome. They’re so good and I love supporting an Australian label. I think one of my favourite things about being an influencer is I don’t just promote any brand, I really pick and choose. And I choose the ones I want to support and the ones I want to be there for.
We see a lot of models doing well as influencers on Instagram. Do you think you fit under the ‘model’ category more so than ‘influencer’?
I’ve only Instagrammed stuff I do with a couple of fashion brands. I think for me at the moment, while I’m young – I want to definitely pursue modelling. I have potential paths to go to LA, so I want to really embrace that. Once that’s done and I’ve experienced so much, I would definitely like to get into blogging because it’s such a good way for people to understand what you’ve been through. But right now I’m very time consumed with shooting nearly every day and travel.
Do you enjoy the travel aspect of the job?
Yeah, I love it. It’s just nice to be on your own and meet new people. When you’re even just an hour flight away, it feels somewhere foreign. You walk the streets and it’s not familiar – that’s my favourite part of travelling, just the unfamiliarity of the streets and the constant awakening of your senses because everything is so new.
While you consider yourself more a model than influencer, do you think Instagram has helped your career?
Oh 100%. My agency [Chic Model Management] actually found me on Instagram and direct messaged me – so that in itself just proves it has. Because I’d already tried modelling and didn’t really like it, I didn’t want to go into an agency. There’s this fear about what if they say ‘no’ – that would just really ruin all your confidence. But they actually found me on Instagram – so that was a really cool thing.
As well for me, I find personally that when I’m posting swimwear photos, other brands see and it’s almost like a casting in itself. Brands see your body, they see you in your natural form, and they see your personality – which is actually huge. And even just in terms of inspiration for shoots – I see different poses on Instagram and I learn from that and then that helps my modelling. I definitely owe Instagram a lot of hugs and kisses because it’s been an amazing platform for me.
Do you ever want to use your following for anything else? Do you have any goals with it?
I was studying business at uni and I’ve always wanted to do fashion marketing and be in the fashion industry, so having an Instagram and a following – it gives me a platform and a network for when I do take my next chapter in life. Whether it be designing something or creating something, I’ve got people to market it to – that’s huge! It’s something I hope to utilise and capitalise in the future when I do decide what’s my next chapter – I definitely think I will be using it.
And last question… where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Ugh I hate these questions because I’m such an in-the-moment kind of person! But five years from now, I just hope to be happy, that’s all. As long as I’m happy, I’ll be very content.