She might be a born-and-bred Texan, but Colleen Miner is no pageant girl. Freckle-faced and toothy, the 21-year-old has that rough-and-tumble rocker look that’s currently so sought after in the industry. Recently signed by Elite, Miner is still a newbie New Yorker but she’s quickly catching onto the ways of the modeling world. “Everyone outside the fashion industry has those preconceived notions of what life is like as a model,” she says, ticking off the misconceptions like a pro. “They don’t realize that you’re at the beck and call of everybody, you work long hours and you don’t get a steady paycheck every two weeks. But ultimately, it’s really all worth it.” Here, she chats about her rural roots, sartorial missteps and posing half-naked on a mountain.
You’re from Austin, Tex. Why don’t you have an accent?
Well, Austin is the only place in Texas that isn’t like Texas. If you go just like an hour outside of Austin, it’s rural, real Texas. But in Austin, most people don’t have drawls and it’s not very cowboy. Austin’s more weird and eclectic — it’s definitely the hippie bubble of Texas. It’s funny, when I first arrived in New York last August I went to this concert in Brooklyn just by the East River and it really felt like Austin. Who knew I could find Texas in New York?
Are you liking the city so far?
Yeah. I just got a place in Williamsburg so I’m excited about that. I had been living in a models apartment on 38th Street.
How many girls were you living with?
It houses eight but it’s always fluctuating. There will be three girls one week, five the next. Model culture is crazy; you never know how long you’ll be in one place. I’ll be on the phone with my mom and be like, “I’m living with this one girl who’s going to Germany next week and this other girl is going back to Tokyo tomorrow and a Russian girl just came in.” It’s kind of nice. Even if you don’t get along with your roommate, it’s not like you’re stuck with them.
How did you start modeling?
I was studying at the University of Texas, Austin, but decided to get out of school after my second year. It just wasn’t for me. And luckily, within the first two months of being out of school I found a mother agency in Austin. And then a month later Elite had an agent flying down to meet me. Then a week later I was in New York. So it all just happened very quickly.
What’s your favorite feature about yourself?
It’s odd to be thinking about that but obviously I’ve become aware of my appearance now more than ever before. I think I can be really versatile, like a chameleon. Back home with girlfriends in high school, we’d do like fake fashion shoots with our MacBooks and I realized that I can do a lot of different things.
Outside of modeling, what are your interests?
Farming. I’d love to be working in organic agriculture. If I wasn’t modeling, I’d be working on a local farm in Texas.
Really? Where did that come from?
My parents always fed us organic. We’ve had a garden since I was little; we’re kind of earthy people so it’s just something I’m kind of drawn to. I think now more than ever, people are eager to learn about where their food and their products come from, and I am too. I wish I had time to learn more about it. I’ve just been like thrust into the modeling world so this is what I do now full-time. It absorbs all your energy but at the end of the day it would be nice to be able to, like, read a book in bed.
It’s a pretty demanding job.
Absolutely. Since I’ve been here, my perception of time has completely changed. The work week isn’t Monday through Friday — there isn’t that routine. You can’t ever make plans because as soon as I do, someone will call me at like two in the afternoon and be like, “Can you be here right now?”
Has it been a difficult adjustment?
I came to New York in August. Like I literally signed the contract, then fashion week started. It was the most hectic, most consuming month I’ve ever had. I felt like I lost my head a bit. Everyone kept reassuring me, “It’s not normally like this. It’s just fashion week.” But in reality, normal is just a lesser version of that.
What would you do today if you weren’t working?
I really am such a nerd. I would go to the Museum of Natural History or the Met. All the stuff that I’m seeing in real life now I was reading about in books a year ago. I just sit in the Eastern Asia section for like an hour and just stare. After that, I guess I’d go shopping. I’m poor so I go to Brooklyn thrift shops when I do shop.
What designers do you like?
If I had a bigger budget? I’d buy some Alexander Wang. Every time I see a shoe someone else is wearing that I think is cool, it’s Alex Wang.
How do you describe your personal style?
That’s a difficult question for a model because we kind of have an unspoken “you have to dress a certain way for your castings” thing.
I’ve heard that most agencies have a closet for girls to pull clothes from for their castings. Is that true?
Yeah, sort of. Right when I arrived in New York, they were like, “Bring your bag into the agency.” I was confused but I did. They went through it and were like “These are amazing. These, don’t ever wear these again.” And then they went through and put outfits together and took pictures. They were like, “If you don’t know what to wear, wear this.” Then you show up to a casting and you look like everyone else. They’re all looking for an “It” girl, someone who has their own personality and their own style so everyone just tries so hard to look different. You’ll see girls wearing like holey leotards and military boots and you’re like, huh? I guess it works though — the girls that are big usually wear the craziest stuff.
How did you dress back in Texas?
I’ve always been weird, not leotard-weird but just different. Like in school, everyone would be like, “Um, what are you wearing?” But I just added little touches. In high school, I’d always wear belts outside of my cardigans. Now everyone does that, but I remember a teacher being like, “What are you doing?” I mean, I like classic shapes, classic colors. I try to wear organic cotton mostly. I wear a lot of high-waisted jeans. I’ve had a lot of people say, “You dress like you’re from Brooklyn.”
What are your go-to beauty products?
Kiehl’s facial moisturizer is killer. They use all natural ingredients. I need my Burt’s Bees lip balm on me all the time. I like vitamin E for my nails and cuticles. Oh, and rosewater spray before you put on your makeup. It gives you a glow. I was never really into makeup but I wear a tinted moisturizer with SPF.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done thus far in your career?
There’s a lot of weird stuff that as a model you have to do. Sometimes when you step back and take it out of context, you’re like, what are am I doing? I did an editorial shoot in Sydney once. It was October so it was springtime there but we drove up into the mountains and it started snowing. And I was supposed to be wearing a bathing suit. So in between shots, I was wrapped in blankets and hats and Uggs and they’d be like, “Ready?” and I’d just throw it all off.