Photo: Courtesy Umbrella Girls USA
Whenever you attend a trade show, be it for electronics, cars, anime, motorcycles, or even toys, you will typically find some models near the products to attract attention.The same is particularly true at sporting events, especially those that involve wheels. From Formula One to bicycle racing, you find models everywhere.
But who are they?
For many of these events, the models are from a company called Umbrella Girls USA. Run by San Francisco-based lawyer and motorsport enthusiast Ann Asiano, Umbrella Girls started 10 years ago after a trip to a motorcycle race in Italy.
She saw professional models on the starting grid holding signs for the riders, but there was no agency representing similar models in America.
Umbrella Girls was born and is one of the only branded motorsport and automotive modelling agencies working in North America today.
We recently spoke to Ann about the agency, the girls, and some dos and don’ts for meeting the models at these events.
Umbrella Girls' models are at motorcycle shows, bicycle races, private events, IndyCar, NASCAR, Off Road, NHRA, Grand Am, ALMS, AMA, MotoGP and other forms of racing.
Ann has a database of 600 girls nationwide, but she told us she tends to work with a core group of 40 models.
For the most part, the girls are in the 18-30 range. Many are students looking to make some supplemental income on the side.
Interestingly, Ann told us that she finds young mothers make some of the best models, as they are fitter and more interested in working on their figures than younger models.
This means interacting with fans and taking pictures while also being able to speak intelligently and sell the brand.
They also sign merchandise for excited fans. Umbrella Girls are brand ambassadors as much as models.
For the most part, the fans are very respectful, but Ann also told us that she teaches the girls ways to reject advances without making the fans upset.
First, don't touch the girls unless you're taking a picture...that's a no brainer. But there have also been cases of photographers trying to grab shots up the skirts of the girls at some events.
Ann doesn't sit idly by while this occurs. She saw this happen to one of her models that was working with Ducati. Ann actually got in the guy's face and took the camera away.
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