Meet The 5 Beautiful Models A Retailer Hired To Hug Strangers In NYC

model hug madeline cimoneThis model could hug you tomorrow.

Photo: Shoptiques

New Yorkers who usually scoff at the Free Hug movement—quick to avoid strangers with open arms in Union Square—might rethink their hugging policy come Friday.As part of a promotion, online retailer Shoptiques has hired five models to go from Soho to Columbus Circle offering hugs to passers-by between 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Click here to meet the models >
Those who really need some guaranteed affection can also book hugging appointments online, if your offices are between Soho and Central Park. (According to Mashable, there’s also a “track a model” option on the website; @Shoptiques will be updating regularly on Twitter as well).

So what exactly does this have to do with online shopping?

“We believe that Free Hugs fits with our motto: Be yourself. Be different,” Shoptiques CEO Olga Vidisheva explained to Business Insider. “A hug is so innocent yet so powerful; hugs are about basic human connection and we want to connect with our customers. Giving hugs will show the city and our amazing customers how much we love and appreciate them!”

Free hugs isn’t a completely new marketing phenomenon. Just look at Coca Cola, which placed a “Hug Me” vending machine in Singapore that gave out free sodas for hugs.

To make things a little less awkward for those of you who are planning to book a hugging appointment, we’ve decided to introduce the participating models. They even told BI their favourite hugging memories.

Meet Ariel Rose Hauck

From: Toronto, Canada

Best hug memory: When I was in Venice, a homeless guy ran up to me and hugged me. I hugged him back and it was just a hilarious moment.

Meet Kim Matulova

From: Sag Harbor, New York

Past work: Matulova has modelled for Levis, Seventeen Magazine, Betsey Johnson, and Banana Republic.

Best hug memory: After starring in a rap video with my poodle pooch Rocco, I got a hug from the crew on set that simply made my day -- was the perfect end to, in my mind, a perfect day.

Meet Shi Lim

From: Singapore

Past work: Apart from modelling, Lim graduated from Gallatin (NYU) in 2012.

Best hug memory: I was having a bad day this one time, and was just sitting on the steps outside a building in the West Village. I guess I looked pretty upset, because this little boy who was playing nearby came up to me, gave me a quick hug and ran away. It cheered me up immediately :)

Meet Madeline Cimone

From: Ottawa, Canada

Past work: Cimone has appeared in various magazine editorial features.

Best hug memory: Saying goodbye to my mum before my flight when I moved to New York.

Meet Stephanie Wagenman

From: Austin, Texas

Past work: Wagenman was an associate designer for Betsey Johnson

Best hug memory: I was very fortunate to know both of my great grandparents, who lived long and happy lives before they passed. Even though it is sort of a sad memory, I remember the last hug I gave each of them. Those were the two hugs I was the most grateful to have experienced.

And here's a map of where they'll be and when:

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