CEO of TRUE Model Management
By Carlos Lacayo | Photos by Chris Carroll
Styling by Rachel D’Ruan | Produced by Carlos Lacayo
Dale Noelle is the Founder and CEO of TRUE Model Management. For twenty years, she was a successful model, working with some of the most prominent fashion houses and popular brands like Oscar de la Renta, Oleg Cassini, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger and Nicole Miller. Over the years, Dale cultivated a robust network among the fashion elite and was regularly asked for referrals and advice.
Shortly after becoming pregnant, Dale was diagnosed with cancer and her modeling career came to an abrupt halt. Despite her diagnosis and the anticipated challenges, she refused to let those sudden changes and obstacles define her future. She was confident in her skills and connections and immediately made the move from model to model manager. This was the beginning of TRUE Model Management.
Headquartered in New York City with affiliates in Los Angeles and Hong Kong, TRUE continues to grow exponentially and actively recruits new models every day, worldwide. TRUE is known for providing models for some of the most in influential names in the industry such as Calvin Klein, DKNY, GAP, Ralph Lauren, Milly, Zac Posen, Alexander Wang, Vera Wang, Tommy Hilfiger and Victoria’s Secret. Dale’s passions for networking, modeling, philanthropy and empowering others continue to remain at the core of TRUE.
From becoming a successful female entrepreneur to giving back
and empowering others, Dale Noelle tells 25A Magazine how she manages to overcome obstacles and balance all of her endeavors
Starting a business can be quite overwhelming and intimidating, let alone during pregnancy and amidst a diagnosis of cancer. Did you have a mentor, to help you through this process?
I did not have a mentor to guide me specifically for TRUE Model Management, but however, my grandmother and my father were my life’s mentors. From a very early age, they instilled a strong work ethic in me and always focused on the importance of supporting others. These lessons, combined with first-hand practical experience as a previous business owner and model, set me up to be successful in pursuing my dreams.
Can you speak about your experience as a female business owner? What would you say is the greatest challenge?
My experiences as a female business person in the modeling industry have all been very positive. However, when I worked and owned businesses in other industries, I needed to work extra hard to prove myself, earn respect for being smart and get men to look me in the eyes.
TRUE was inspired by your passion for modeling and for networking and connecting with others. What advice do you have for someone interested in turning his/her passion into a business?
My advice for others is to follow your heart, do your homework before starting your business and write a detailed plan. It is important to align yourself with honest business associates and intelligent, loyal employees. Knowledge of business laws, at least the basics in accounting and computer programming/coding are helpful to know. To be successful as a businessperson you need to be aggressive and bold, while being kind and compassionate. Take calculated risks, be optimistic, resilient and persistent. Lastly, I’d recommend saving money and resting up for the ride!
What causes do you support and how does this compassion lend itself to your professional work?
I strongly believe in giving back to communities and empowering others to further enrich the world. Philanthropy has always been very important to me personally and professionally, which is why I try to stay actively involved in many causes close to my heart. For the events that I host, I like to incorporate a donation and/or charity component. As a cancer survivor, I fully realize the importance of funding foundations and charities and the impact these philanthropic organizations have on the lives of others.
Currently, I’m on the boards of the Federal Enforcement Homeland Security Foundation (FEHSF), TedX Fulton Street, DRAM Conferences and the Women and Fashion FilmFest. I regularly organize and participate in charity events and am on benefit committees for organizations such as: Fred Hutchinson/University of Washington’s Cancer Research, The Center For Discovery, K.I.D.S/Fashion Delivers, Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, Women Helping Women, to name a few.
Causes close to my heart include the following: Cancer, Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy and Alzheimer’s Research, Empowering Women, Education, eradicating Human Trafficking, Homeland Security, Manufacturing in America, Assisting the impoverished and more.
What makes you feel most empowered and how do you hope to empower others?
I feel the most empowered and energized when I’m helping others to attain their dreams and improve their lives. I believe in the power of positivity and by helping to better the lives of others you are bettering your own, as well as the world. TRUE Model Management is an extension of my commitment to help others make their dreams a reality. At TRUE, we help our models to realize and pursue their dreams related to the industry and otherwise. I regularly participate and partner with organizations that share my desire to empower others, especially women. Some of the organizations include, Women’s Entrepreneur Day, the Women and Fashion Film Fest, Women Helping Women, INC.’s Women’s Summit and Women’s Leadership Live.
Restauranteur & Romance Queen
By Bennett Marcus
Cindy (left): Purple and Gold Dress and Corset: Maggie Norris (@maggienorris_couture)
Dale (right): Blue Dress: Carmen Marc Valvo (IG @carmenmarcvalvo), Shoes: Ruthie Davis (IG @ruthie_davis)
Photographed by Chris Carroll Photo www.chriscarroll.photo
If Cindy Guyer looks familiar when you walk into her Upper West Side restaurant/wine bar, Guyer’s, it’s because she has appeared on the covers of over 400 romance novels. A model and actress, she has appeared in numerous national commercials for products like Prell shampoo, plus movies and television shows, in addition to being the queen of romance novel covers. Guyer is sort of the female Fabio, with whom she has shared many book covers.
When we spoke to her on a recent Friday afternoon, Guyer was about to head to the restaurant, where she wears many hats. “I do everything,” she says. “I’m very hands-on.” One night she’ll tend bar, another night she’ll do the cooking. “I’m little overworked, but that’s OK,” she laughs. “Right now, I’m on my way over there, my cook will get there around 3 o’clock, and I’ll start to bartend, and at 7 o’clock I’ll turn the bar over to my bartender and then just be the hostess.”
But it turns out that wearing many hats has been the hallmark of this entrepreneur’s varied career, starting at age 15, when the legendary modeling agency founder Wilhelmina scouted her at a Connecticut restaurant where Guyer was lunching with her parents. At 16, Guyer was signed by Eileen Ford, and became the face for the young-adult Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys novels. The agency that cast the books threw a corset on Guyer one day and put her on a romance novel as a “little Lolita,” and she graduated from kid lit to romance novels. “I guess I did such a good job, they just kept using me.” She continued her education, and also studied acting, worked on soap operas, and, she says, just got very lucky early on, and through hard work, wound up having a twenty-year career doing book covers. She still does book shoots. “I did one last month,” Guyer says.
She takes care of herself, and realizes that she is very lucky to still look good. Yes, she says, the niche she fell into as romance novel cover-girl is a lot of fun, and she loves the people in the industry. “We have these big romance conventions, and I’m friends with a lot of the authors,” Guyer says. She recently went to a convention in Las Vegas for the magazine The Romantic Times, run by her friend, Kathryn Falk. “I call her my godmother. She’s so good to me. Both of my parents passed away, so her and her husband have always known my family, and they always look after me. She’s just great.”
Guyer produced and hosted the series Mr. Romance, a breakout show for Oprah’s Oxygen Network, which featured Fabio and Kiss rocker Gene Simmons. She also wrote the concept and starred in the Lifetime series The Perfect Nanny.
So how did Guyer end up in the restaurant business? “I think actors are natural-born entertainers,” she says. “We love people, we like to entertain. We sit around on movie sets waiting, so we’re used to just hanging out with other people, so I think certain actors are just good at hosting. They know how to handle people. I understand people. I love it.”
The food she describes as French-American, “but it’s actually very continental, because I do have my grandmother’s fabulous meatballs on the menu.” Weekend brunch skews southern, with grits and homemade biscuits. She loves the kale salad, which she created. “It keeps me skinny, I call it the model salad.” All of the salads are healthy, she says, and there are fabulous flatbread French pizzas, which are also “not that fattening.” There are daily fish and pasta specials. “It’s very homemade food; homemade, gourmet, fun food.”
With restaurants, there’s always a lot of drama…
She hopes Guyer’s will become a neighborhood staple; she has a ten-year lease, and just added weekend brunch and outdoor seating. She hopes to paper the powder room with her book covers. She had previously run a wine bar in the same space, with several partners, a situation she found less than ideal. “This time, I decided I would be the only partner,” she says. “I have no investors, and I’m doing this all on my own.” Partners, Guyer has decided, are only for dancing and for loving. “When it comes to money and different ideas on how to run a company, it gets tricky.” She admits that by doing it on her own, she is overworked, but feels that the rewards will be worth it.
Even with working 7-day weeks, Guyer is still planning new projects; along with Romantic Times editor Falk, she’s cooking up a series of novels set at the restaurant. “With restaurants, there’s always a lot of drama, especially with the staff. And if you’ve ever watched the Bravo show with Lisa Vanderpump, there’s always drama when you’ve got a bunch of kids around. Instead of having a reality television show, we’re going to have books.”