Style isn’t just about wearing the latest trend; to Penticton’s Amberlee Erdmann it is also about being confident.
With a positive attitude, and a lot of support from the community, Erdmann won the Be The Face of Bootlegger competition.
“You will be seeing my face everywhere,” said Erdmann gazing around the Penticton Bootlegger store in awe.
Canadian fashion retailer Bootlegger put out a model search call in January that Erdmann came across on her Facebook page. Having already dabbled in modelling, she thought it was interesting and decided to submit a photo for the first step in the contest.
“At the time, I was doing a hair photo shoot with Loyal Hair Therapy in Kelowna and my hair wasn’t allowed to be shown. So we had a real obstacle of trying to figure out what I could wear that would cover up my hair but wouldn’t look odd,” said Erdmann. “Thankfully I came into the store and found a coat that I could wear the hood up in and you can’t see my hair.”
The 24-year-old submitted her application, then the real work came. In order to get into the Top 10 she needed people to go online and vote.
“I nagged all my family and friends and I felt so bad for annoying everyone but in the end it is worth it because I had over 2,000 votes. I really want to apologize to them and thank them for not blocking me off Facebook,” she said with a laugh. “I figured this was going to be a popularity contest and was kind of down about it. As the contest started I was getting friends asking their friends to vote. I actually would go into a store and people would say ‘I recognize you from somewhere.’ After talking to them I would find out they had voted for me. It is such an amazing feeling to know that the whole community voted and supported me.”
From there, she was chosen as the face of Bootlegger from a panel of judges. For winning the contest Erdmann will be flown to Vancouver at the beginning of June for a photoshoot. Her accommodations will be paid for and she will get to go shopping for five full Bootlegger outfits that she will model in for their next campaign period.
Erdmann has modelled for local fashion shows, businesses, private artists and has been seen on a bridal magazine and at Western Canada Fashion Week. She fell into the industry by fluke. At 16 she took part in a fashion show in a church basement trying to raise money to build houses for an orphanage in Mexico. Someone recommended she seek out an agency and she was picked up for a couple of years and did some modelling in Edmonton. From there she was asked to compete in Miss Alberta 2008. Although she denied the request, her application got sent in by mistake and she ended up winning a trip to Toronto to vie for the title of Miss Global Canada where she came fourth runner-up.
“All of these things have given me confidence in who I am as a person and what I do,” said Erdmann who holds a Bachelor of Social Work and is the resource development co-ordinator with the South Okanagan Victim Assistance Society.
Day-to-day you won’t find Erdmann wearing makeup, doing anything special with her hair and probably wearing sneakers. She said she isn’t the stereotypical model.
“I feel beautiful wearing my pyjamas and sweats around and I think young girls also need to embrace that and know that they are beautiful and don’t have to wear makeup and all of that to look amazing. Know that people in magazines do have flaws and they just get cleaned up in Photoshop,” said Erdmann.
One of the questions Erdmann had to answer on her Bootlegger application was: What is your personal style and what does it mean to you?
“I started off saying I really enjoy being comfortable, stylish and confident in my clothing. The more I reflected on it, the more I came to a realization. I have had some chronic health problems and what I found is fashion really helped me get through things like university. For exams or presentations or anything really stressful I would dress up really nice and it picked me up and made me feel better when I was down. Dressing up really does pick a person up and makes me feel confident,” she said.