To me, the secret to success is to act extremely confident even when you have no idea what's going on. Eventually, with time, you feel confident; almost like reprogramming your thought patterns and behaviour. Keep reaffirming you are confident and worthy. When I first started modeling, I studied and watched older models and people and tried to learn the secret behind their confidence and behaviour. Recently, I read an article about Eva Chen, the Editor of Lucky Magazine, and how she felt like she didn't belong at a company she ostensibly ran and was a huge part of. Her behaviour mirrored what I saw on set and with the models I mentioned, and I've come to realize a lot of people within and even outside the modeling and fashion industry suffer from the "imposter syndrome," meaning they internalize their accomplishments and feel like a fraud among their peers. So "fake it until you make it" really is applicable.

I wasn't always confident. I went to private school all throughout middle and high school so I was ostensibly taught to hide my body and that overexposure of the body was somehow sinful. That was easy to do until I hit high school and went through puberty. Over one winter break, I went from a small A cup to a D cup and suddenly developed hips. My body also garnered a lot of newfound attention from guys, which was welcome and unwelcome at the same time. The experience was an unpleasant mixture of shame and confidence. It took years of agents and photographers telling me to embrace my body and curves to reset my upbringing.




I think one of the most memorable pieces I've worn while shooting was a 80k diamond necklace that I wore on set of a cover shoot for a magazine. It was stunning and weighed about the same as a newborn baby. There was a woman dressed in a black suit chained to a briefcase filled with diamonds and expensive jewelry that followed me around on set. She didn't speak and just kind of scowled the whole time. She even waited outside the bathroom for me in between shoots to make sure I didn't run off with any jewelry, which was kind of weird. (laughing) She had kind of an awesome job if you think about it.




Valnoir is an e-commerce based luxury cashmere company that I founded and now currently run with my best friend and business partner, Karen Bavier, who I met when I was modeling for Balenciaga. All our sweaters and blankets are sourced from the most luxurious cashmere in the world, Loro Piana and is only available online, which is essentially what e-commerce means. It's a new age and everything is digital so we adapted accordingly in that for our launch. We decided to forego traditional marketing and to mainly promote our brand through social media influencers like Hannah Bronfman, creator of HBFit, and her partner, musician Brendan Fallis, who both do a lot of charity work with urban youth.

We chose people and clients based on the positive message their brand conveyed, and who were involved in charity work and helping others. When we were doing R&A (research and analysis) for Valnoir, we chose to enter the niche luxury market. We wanted to sell exclusive high end products in limited numbers at a luxury price points, and we also wanted to give back. Even before undergoing this business venture, I wanted charity work and helping others to be interwoven into the fabric of our brand DNA, which is also why we work with clients involved with charities. And which is also why this year Karen and I decided to donate 10% of every sale on our website to dogs in local NY rescue shelters. It's been an amazing journey building this company and collaborating with these charities and celebrities, and I can't wait to see how the Valnoir brand evolves.




One of the most challenging aspects of my work but one that I am truly grateful for is: Time management. I'm sure most of your readers struggle with this. I want to do everything: model, run a start-up, build up my personal brand, and get great grades at Columbia University. I feel like there's so much I want to do but not enough time to do it. I feel a higher calling to do something great, and sometimes feel anxious when I'm not progressing fast enough to reach this equivocal "greatness."




Overall, I am optimistic. There's an intersection where the lines of pessimistic, realistic, and optimistic thought meet and I cross those lines often. I often have contradictory thoughts about the overall arc of my life and accomplishments. But that's what it means to be introspective: you examine and re-examine your thoughts. My company just launched, my modeling career is taking off, I'm being featured in Maxim Magazine coming out February 20th along with an interview, and I'm personally volunteering more with local charities; I have so much to be grateful and proud about so you would think I would have no issues with insecurities or negativity. Yet, negative thoughts always remain, right beneath the surface, lurking in the shadows in my bedroom corners at night. However, with time, I've learned to deal with the proverbial monster under my bed that is negativity. Once a negative thought arises, I stop and analyze where it comes from and then replace it with a positive thought. I follow that negativity back to its source and then let it go. Through gratitude, introspection, and self-awareness, I'm able to remain optimistic, but it still remains a challenge every day.




The end of civilization will be caused by: Technology. In the words of Ray Kurzwiel, the singularity is near. Just like Vinge, Kurzweil argues that we'll get to the Singularity by creating a super-human artificial intelligence that will outpace humans mentally, which may mean the end of civilization as we know it. But that begs the question: Artificial intelligence is reaching a singularity, therefore, the singularity is bad. It may end civilization as we know it, but perhaps it's not a bad thing in a Terminator Skynet sort of way. There will be cures for cancer and progressive steps towards ending world hunger. You have to play devil's advocate with it and see both sides of the argument.

...Or perhaps we can get Elon Musk-esque with it and assume we are all in a computer simulation and we are all just in the matrix. Our civilization is just a computer program and this conversation we are having is just intricate programming that is playing out. Who knows, but it's fun to think about, isn't it?


Elizabeth Bert // elizabeth_bert

Jammi York // jammi_york // jammiyorkphotography.com


JUNNNKTANK is an online zine which has existed in one form or another since 2006.
For over a decade, the focus has been on highlighting the efforts of inspiring individuals and artists from around the world.


Submissions are always welcome to junk@junnnktank.com.