Renée Mittelstaedt, model + founder of pivot + partnerships at thecnnekt
It is crazy who you meet on the internet. Renée is a multi-hyphenated individual: a model, brand partnerships at thecnnekt, and the founder of the newly launched Pivot NY, a platform encouraging models to anticipate their career pivot through job shadowing and sharing resources on translating skills. Get to know this special woman and learn how she is more than capable of doing it all in today’s feature.
Renée, our community knows who you are as far as thecnnekt goes, but can you give us a brief on all the cool things you are up to?
So besides managing partnerships for thecnnekt, I work as a model and have recently launched The Pivot. The Pivot is a semi-monthly newsletter that encourages NYC-based models to anticipate their future career pivot through internships, job shadowing, and remote work. I was motivated to start this project because I personally found it very difficult to find flexible internship, volunteer, and work opportunities. I wanted to create a resource to help out ambitious models looking for new ways to apply their transferable skills and prepare for their future.
It’s obvious that you are a multi-hyphenated individual, but can you share why you decided to choose this path and what excites you about each of the projects you’re working on?
I didn’t exactly plan to become a multi-hyphenate, it sort of happened organically and gradually. Since I was a teenager I slowly got used to balancing at least two things that were completely different from another. First, it was a high school student-cashier-model, then a university student-model, and now it’s a partnership lead-model-founder. For me, it’s more about choosing things I’m passionate about and then figuring out how they fit together.
The reasons why I like modeling has changed throughout the years. When I was a teenager, I really enjoyed the glam and traveling to different countries for work. I still enjoy those aspects of my job, but now I love how flexible my hours are, the amazing people I meet on set, and how I have the opportunity to witness the final stage of a major project most people don’t get to see. I feel very lucky to continue to work as a model throughout the different stages of my life.
At thecnnekt, I get super excited about developing IRL events from start to finish and learning more about the community and what they respond to positively. During the process of learning how to collaborate and cnnekt with brands,
I’ve also learned a lot about myself. I now have a better understanding of what I enjoy, how I see my career journey unfolding, and have been able to apply existing skills and acquire new ones.
I’m excited about my newest project, The Pivot, because it’s something that hasn’t been done before in the modeling industry.
As a model, you’re often the last person to find out about the details of a shoot, castings, and meetings. As the industry evolves and becomes more receptive to new ideas, I feel that it’s the right time for models to have more control over the outcome of their career trajectory.
Why did you create The Pivot and why is it important to you to launch something like this?
The Pivot was created to take the difficulty out of finding flexible internships, remote work, and job shadowing opportunities. The modeling industry has some resources for talent but it’s still quite sparse compared to other talent-based industries. For example, actors have resources like SAG and The Actors’ Fund to turn to during a crisis and to explore other careers while pursuing acting. I want The Pivot to be an accessible resource that models can turn to when they’re ready to see what their options are while continuing to work full time. I also wanted to connect models with professionals in other industries. We become so comfortable and caught up in our little bubble, that we forget how instrumental it can be to expand our network into other spaces and how one day those relationships could help us with our career pivot.
But for real, do you aspire to be a mogul one day?
Haha that would be nice! It’s not super important for me to become a mogul. I think to be considered successful, I would like to be known and respected in whatever industry (or industries) I choose to pursue. I don’t necessarily care what others outside of my community think of my pursuits, I care more about the change-makers that are in my proximity.
Of your line of work, what has been one of your most memorable projects to date?
That’s a tough question because I’ve been working as a model before I could even drive! But I think the first memorable project would have to be with Adidas when I was 14. The concept was a house party and I was by far the youngest person there. It’s sort of funny to look back on because at that age I hadn’t even been to an actual house party yet. Most recently, shooting with Aerie in Costa Rica was super epic. I was in my last semester at McGill University and they flew me out for a few days to shoot the campaign. It was so surreal and it’s definitely one of the coolest on location shoots I’ve done to date.
What can we expect next from you and The Pivot?
I see myself continuing to model while exploring what I enjoy outside of modeling. I know that sounds vague, but I take everything day-by-day because both the fashion and modeling industries are fickle so you can never really anticipate what’s on the horizon.
As for The Pivot, I plan on partnering with other career-based organizations to create workshops and original content for models in the community. The Pivot is still a super young organization but I think with a lot of hard work, the right timing, and some patience it’ll go far and prove to be helpful to many people.
Interviewed by Chary