Northwestern junior Natalia Mueller recently entered maurices’ Main Street Model Search, a nationwide search for “12 real girls in all sizes to model maurices clothing.” Natalia is one of over 500 applicants to enter the contest.
There is a “huge variety” of contestants in the Main Street Model Search. With a minimum age of 18, women of all ages across the U.S. have entered the contest, including college students, young married women and mothers in their 40s. Women from sizes 1-24 have submitted themselves for consideration to be the next maurices model.
Mueller loves shopping online and saw the Main Street Model Search advertised on the maurices website. “I got really excited about it,” she said. For Mueller, the fact that applicants couldn’t have any modeling experience or published photographs “made it more real.” In order to achieve a “more professional look, Mueller asked fellow NW students Brittany Leikvoll and Betsy De Glopper to take photos and film her entrance video.
For her submission profile, Mueller submitted a written biography with a unique angle. Mueller was adopted from Romania at the age of two, so she proposed herself as the “next Romanian maurices Main Street Model.” She highlights her passion for giving back to the community and personal goal of having a business “sort of like TOMS shoes,” where a percentage of the proceeds go to charity. Mueller currently has a small business of homemade headbands and is looking into producing /t-shirts, but “only has one pair of hands.” She hopes to pursue and expand this goal later in life. Part of the prize of the Main Street Model Search is $7,500 to give a nonprofit organization a “charitable makeover.” If selected, Mueller would like to give this money to an adoption agency or an organization that works in Romania.
The Main Street Model campaign is not just about real models; it is also about small-town America. In a press release announcing the contest, maurices Vice President of marketing Brad Hartmann said, “Fashion, small towns and community involvement are the heart and soul of maurices.” The photo shoots for the 12 winning girls will take place in the models’ hometowns for maurices’ fall, holiday and spring campaigns. Mueller, who listed Orange City as her hometown, explains, “They want to broadcast small towns that are unique.”
The top 50 contestants were determined by online voting and announced on maurice’s website on April 28. Friends of Mueller’s had texted and called her early that morning to congratulate her. “I really am happy I found out that way and didn’t have to wait to look on the website to see if I made it,” Mueller said. Upon receiving word that she’d continue on in the contest, Mueller said she was shocked and honored. “I feel so blessed to have so many people support me through this.”
A judging panel, led by fashion designer Christopher Straub from Project Runway, will determine the top 20 from these 50 contestants. “The judges already picked their top 20 models and the sponsors are supposed to contact the models on [April 28] or sometime soon after,” Mueller said. The top 20 will then go to Minneapolis for a final casting call in front of the judging panel. The 12 winning models will be announced on May 9.
Because being a Main Street Model is not just about outside appearance, judges will select models based on “their representation of the maurices’ image.” Therefore, Mueller explained that “any of the top 20 could be alternates.” There are extensive rules that contestants must adhere to, and physical and psychological tests that top contestants have to pass. Essentially, maurices wants their Main Street models to be positive role models. Judges will consider the models’ image as important as appearance.
Mueller said that this experience has “taught me that if I want something I really have to go for it.” Before knowing she advanced to the top 50 contestants, Mueller was just glad to have had the courage to put herself out there and done something unique. “I’m really happy for all the other contestants; they all sound amazing and have so many things to offer,” Mueller said. “I know that the judges will have a hard time picking, but I know that whoever wins will bring so much to the table.”