Giving borough kids a fashion-forward future

Giving borough kids a fashion-forward future
Naeisha Rose
By Naeisha Rose

Christopher Garcia, who serves in the U.S. Army Reserve and works in construction, simply wanted to be present in his children’s lives and help set them up for a bright future. Little did he know that he and his wife Nicole would turn that wish into a youth modeling agency, Strike A Pose.

After ushering their first five children (out of 10 overall) into dance, modeling and pageantry in the late 1990s and early 2000s the Garcias tired of the favoritism and extreme competition they found there. They were also tired of management companies that promised elaborate photo shoots for free, only to charge them up to $600 once the pictures were taken. Eventually, the family left the fashion and pageant circles.

“We were parents first, that got burned,” says Garcia, 43, from Jamaica.

But the Garcias soon found themselves drawn back into the style industry with their younger children.

“The 2-year-old (now 8) was put in a pageant photo contest by my father-in-law without us knowing and she won,” says Garcia. “She kept getting pursued to model and when she did, she loved it,” adds Garcia.

To help further their younger children’s passion for modeling, Garcia sent his children to a modeling coach. Once again, he found himself disappointed.

“One day we went down, and the door was locked. The owner of the building said ‘I’m not opening the building because this girl owes so much money,’ and all these parents and kids were lined up outside,” says Garcia. “I spoke to my wife and we were going to pay the back rent so we could continue to help all these kids.”

Unfortunately for the Garcias and the many other parents that relied on the trainer, it took months before the landlord decided to lend them space for practice.

“Down the line, he approached us about taking over the studio, and my wife and I became business owners,” says Garcia.

Together the Garcias decided that the business, Strike A Pose, would be like one big family. They currently have a roster of 20 kids, ranging in age from 3 to 19 years old.

“They teach each other how to pose, how to smile, how to work the garment, and now it is like a little brother-and-sister environment, instead of you look better than this person,” says Nicole Garcia, 37.

With the Strike A Pose management team, the kids learn about more than modeling. They get lessons in self-confidence, how to prepare for the future and how to conduct themselves on social media.

“Social media can give you great exposure, but you have to remember that as a model what you put up online should be industry relevant,” says Jesus Lewis (also known as Jay Runway), an SAP modeling coach and a former model.

The Garcias hope to expand Strike A Pose’s current focus on modeling and dancing to include acting.

“We want our kids to know everything,” says Garcia. “Hopefully, before the summer is out, that is something we may pursue.”

Strike A Pose is also a showcase for up-and-coming designers, and is a producer of child/teen fashion shows.

By producing the kids segment of fashion shows, the Garcias guarantee that their youths will get a chance to try on new designer clothes and build relationships with the movers and shakers of the fashion industry.

The Garcias hope to make Strike A Pose their full-time job after Christopher Garcia finishes up with the Army Reserve. “Our dream will be to have city or government funding for our business here in Queens, and grow to a 40-50 person studio,” he says.

Currently, they charge $100 per month for modeling lessons, make-up tutorials, social media lessons, personal hygiene, etiquette classes, photo shoots and interview skills. Strike A Pose is located at 161-04 on Jamaica Ave. at the JCAL Building and is open on Saturdays from 3-5 p.m.

Their next showcase will be on Sept. 17, and will feature a segment called Rainbow Ribbon, which will highlight ways in which parents can learn how to avoid being verbally abusive to children.