Hello! Can you please start by introducing yourself and Offshore Agency?
I am Michael Rotimi. I am from Philadelphia but am now based in Brooklyn, NY. I started Offshore in late 2016. Offshore is a talent management agency, we mostly represent models but represent other talents, such as a chef, photographers, and artists, as well. We want to give people a platform to help them grow and create.
Did it start from working with just models and grow from there?
My first introduction to management was with music. Before I started the agency, in Philly, I used to help a friend out who was a musician. Then I got the idea to work with models and leaned into that because scouting was natural to me. I moved to New York, signed some of my first models, and it grew from there. A lot of people I work with are models and act in other industries which is pretty cool.
Did you move to New York with the intention of starting Offshore Agency?
I definitely moved to New York with the intention to start the agency. Philly was getting a bit small for me. I couldn’t reach the people I needed to or get certain opportunities so I thought New York would be the best place for me. I was working as a personal assistant when I first moved to New York and at the same time, I was starting the agency.
How do you decide who to sign?
I like people who are confident in what they are doing and what they believe in, who aren’t afraid to show it. Usually, I sign people who are outgoing and have a relatable look. Whatever you do, I have to be a fan of it and believe in you.
In terms of models especially, do you think beauty and personality play equal roles? Is one more important than the other?
I think personality comes first. You have to be likable and interesting. You can’t be cookie-cutter or not show who you are. The beauty side helps in terms of campaigns and stuff like that, but right now the industry is leaning towards the story you are telling. You don’t have to be a standard model. Right now, models look different, are shaped differently, and are of different ages. Anybody can be a model.
I was going to ask if you think anyone can be a model.
Anybody can. You just need confidence and passion. Personality, too.
How do you find people to represent?
Most of my scouting is on social media, mainly Instagram. Usually, I reach out, meet them, feel their vibe, and see what their plans are. At the end of the day, working with someone means gaining a friend.
Was it your management experience that got you interested in starting Offshore? Did you have any other inspirations?
What inspired me was seeing a lack. A lot of people aren’t represented in the industry, specifically my communities, they aren’t represented. I think it was an obvious thing that needed to happen in the industry. We created our own lane and made what we wanted to see.
Do you still feel like there is a big gap in terms of representation?
I think more people are trying to do it but sometimes it isn’t genuine. If people are implementing it in what they do, I think longevity will come. It needs to not be treated as a trend. Especially with the Black Lives Matter movement, a lot of people are now trying to change things because they feel pressured. We will see who keeps it in their practices.
Do you pay attention to trends?
I don’t follow trends too much, or at all really. It’s funny because a lot of our ideas have ended up becoming trends so I think staying true to you is easiest.
Can you talk about your slogan “more than a face?”
The type of talent that we are looking for are more than just their looks, they are more than just the traditional model that is six-foot, thin, with blonde hair. Personality, confidence, style, the energy that you put out, all really matters. “More than a face” means that anyone can have a platform as a model and still stand for what they believe in, what they like. We strongly emphasize that with the talent we have.
How has Offshore evolved over time?
Maybe in the last year, we have been working with a small team which has been cool. I started it on my own. I think for two years it was manageable but now that we are working with more talent and more clients I needed more hands. It’s going pretty good.
Do you see it growing even bigger?
I am pretty selective with the people I work with. I want to make it bigger but not huge, I want to keep it selective. It’s about quality, not quantity.
What would an ideal fashion/modeling industry look like for you?
Representation in every way. A lot of people look at the modeling industry, it’s a huge industry with a large audience. I think representation would make a huge impact. That, and I feel like there are a lot of gatekeepers. Opening it up to people to learn and get involved if they wanted to would create a better industry.
How do you think we should get there? Is it a matter of time?
I think it is about collaboration and actually practicing representation within your establishment. It has to start within. Then it’ll be more natural and easier to structure.
I think we still have time but with social media and stuff like that, I think it is making it move faster because there is a lot of pressure. There is a lot of power in social media.
Is a lot of what you do through social media?
Definitely, Instagram makes things a lot easier as far as seeing the world and people. I think that it is a big part of the success of Offshore.
How has your background, experiences, and skillsets helped with the success of Offshore?
It was definitely a learning curve. Of course, I made some mistakes, I kind of learned the industry as I went. I did a lot research as far as the law side of things. It is very important to not have models be exploited so that is one thing I made sure I knew when I started Offshore.
How did you know what to prioritize?
My main thing was to try to help people check off their goals. I love helping people and seeing them succeed. If there is anything I can do to help that, I am super happy. That is what Offshore is, just helping people with what they want to do.
What are you working on now or looking forward to in the future?
We are dropping a tennis-inspired collection in September which I am super excited about. We dropped merch like two years ago. I don’t want to get into high fashion but pushing the brand with tees is cool.
Now that the world is opening back up, it is important to bring people together and create community so I am excited to start meeting people again.
What do you consider to be Offshore’s brand?
Offshore is a lifestyle brand. We are not your typical agency, we throw events, we have merch, we do different things. I think the brand of Offshore is community. We are a part of a culture so it is easy to be ourselves and show it in our work.
Interview by Riley Gunderson
Stylist Assist: @nevertrustablonde