Like a real-life Cinderella story, Groningen-native Kim Feenstra achieved her dream of becoming a model after a struggling upbringing.
The Dutch charmer gained notorierity after winning the second cycle of Holland's Next Top Model, back in 2007, which was hosted by Yfke Sturm.
Feenstra has, since then, been featured in various fashion shows and editorials, from Glamour to Harper's Bazaar, including a beauty spread for Italian Vogue, shot by Miles Aldridge.
Now happily married, the hard-working brunette beauty, who looks up to Waris Dirie, is the perfect choice to kick off the new year.
Did you always wanted to be a model, or did you stumble upon it, get discovered etc.? Who or what inspired you to become a model? How did you get started in the modeling business?
I always wanted to be a model, but it was never the right time. I came from a long way. I had so Many struggle to fight with in my past. But I always believed in myself. At a really down and black periode in my life, I was 20, I Walked on the street in Amsterdam and I got discovered by a agency from Paris. The name of this agency was Angels..... These Angels really saved my life....
I got discovered on the street in Amsterdam in 2006. Later in 2007 my best Friend signed me up for a competition in Holland. Hollands Next Topmodel. I was the winner from This show that was broadcast on national tv. I won This show on May 14th 2007. Thats how my career starts to role.
What is your favorite or most exciting aspect about being a model? What do you like least? Have you encountered any surprises along the way? What has been your most awkward moment (of your modeling career)?
I like the travels. I love to see so Many beautiful countrys and places all over the world. For me Thats really a blessing. In my opinion there are no negative sides on modeling. U just have to be strong and patience. Stand up for yourself and deal with rejections, lonleyness and see your modeling as a 24/7 job not as a hobby. The modeling scene is a beautiful world with a hard side, but if You are strong and have passion for what u do, it's a blessing
I liked it even more, it became addictive for me in a positive way.
The competition is huge, there are thousands of beautiful girls, and u have to deal with rejections...
What’s the funniest thing that happened to you on a photo shoot or fashion show?
The funniest thing is that once I was doing a show 5 years ago, my dress felt down in front of the photographers at the end of the runway. And there I was, with two little naked boobs! Ooops....
How would you describe yourself as model in three words?
Strong, Believer and full of Personality.
Out of all the places your career has taken you, where was the most memorable?
Every place I travel to for my modeling is an adventure. I can't choose. I have so many great memories from all of my travels.
Who is your favorite photographer? Why?
I like Miles Aldridge, Greg Lotus, Hans de Vries, Erwin Olaf and Gianluca Fontana. I've worked with them all, they are very good photographers and they love what they do. I love people who have passion for their work. And I'm very honored that they give me the change to work with them.
What was the hardest photo shoot for you, and why?
During the Hollands Next Topmodel competition we traveled to South Africa. I have to do a shoot on a horse between two Giraffes in the wild. It was beautiful but oh so scary. I was afraid that the horse would feel my fear and would run away! But nothing happened and it was an unforgettable experience!
Is there a difference in posing when you are doing a cover and an editorial?
It depends on what kind of magazine you are working for. For High Fashion Magazine like Vogue, the Cover is very editorial for me. But something more commercial like the cover of Cosmopolitan can be very smiley and fun. The editorials in Cosmo are different then the editorials in Vogue. But it also depends on what the story is and who the photographer is you shoot with.
Is there an artistic or general difference in doing editorials/covers in Europe opposed to USA?
I don't think that there is a huge difference, but I do believe that the market is different sometimes. For example; Germany is a really commercial market, more than France. But most of the times I think it's the same everywhere.
Did anyone in the industry ask you to change your look, name, etc… If so, what did you do?
Be yourself, have a huge personality, believe in your talent, be strong and ask yourself if you can handle it. And most important; modeling is not a hobby, it's a lifestyle and a 24 hour job....
Have you had any negative experiences with model agencies, talent scouts? What are top 3 warning signs to look out for?
I don't have that much negative experiences with bookers or agencies, I think that the most important thing to look out for is that you don't pay money for signing in with a agency. If they believe in you, they will invest in you. Not you in them. And if they give you a contract, please read it with your parents or lawyer before you sign your name on it.
Would you share some of your future goals, your life motto, any words of wisdom that get you by in life and professional career?
My future goals are secrets between me, my agent, my loved ones and God. I believe in bad energy from people that are jealous and wish you bad luck. So call me a bit crazy, but I won't share my dreams with everyone....
My modeling motto is Stand up, get up, dress up and never give up.....
A world Champion Boxing told me this once and it definitely applies to me. ( Regillio Benito Tuur) and what I also love is Audrey Hepburn's : Nothing is impossible, the word itself says I'm possible.... I think that's Amazing!
What should a relationship between an agent and model look like?
A healthy relationship, don't be afraid to share your sorrows and happiness with them. You have to work together and make the best of it. If u disagreeing on something don't get to emotional. Modeling is a business.
Who is your favorite all-time model?
I like Waris Dirie as my all time model. Because her life story is such a inspiration for many women and girls out there. She is beautiful from the in and outside. That makes her a outstanding women from another level in this world. There a so many beautiful girls, but if your personality is ugly, your soul will never glow
Do other models inspire you?
I'll have my inspiration from people I meet along the way. Life stories, real stories, beauty in landscape and love. Not so much in models. Except Waris Dirie. And my mother, always my mother... For me she is the most strongest and beautiful women on earth!
How do you feel fashion has empowered you?
Fashion gave me my hope, more life experience and makes me stronger.
Is the fashion world what you expected it to be?
It's everything that I've expected and more. Even the struggles and tears were all worth it. I think I'm blessed with the best job in the world!
What do you enjoy doing when you are not working?
Spending time with my Husband and our Husky. Enjoying my home, family and friends. Sleep for hours and read books and watch movies.
Who are your favorite fashion designers?
My favorite designers are Versace, Givenchy, Balmain, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Tony Cohen, Elisabetta Franchi and Angel&Maclean
Levi's and Salsa Jeans. Both give u a great shape!
What things in your wardrobe would you never throw away?
I'm a vintage girl!
What era would you like to bring back?
I love the 20's and the 80's!
Who is your style icon?
Rihanna,Kate Moss and I love Diana Ross for all her amazing dresses she used to wear!
Your favorite store?
I don't have a favorite store really, I just see something I like and if I can afford it, I buy it. It can be 10 euros or 300 dollars. A high fashion brand or no brand....
What are your best beauty secrets?
Get enough sleep, drink lots of water and coconut water, go to the gym and eat healthy. But if chocolate or a burger makes you happy once in a while, enjoy it but know your limits. I also believe in inner beauty, so around yourself with, love and real friends that makes u happy and laugh.
Do you have any beauty / skin care tips or tricks to look fresh and rested for early morning photo shoots?
Drink water before u go to sleep. Wake up with warm water and some lemon juice. Take a cold shower, look in the mirror and tell yourself you are gonna rock this shoot today!
Do you believe in homemade recipes? Do you have one to share with us?
I don't have homemade beauty recipes. I believe in everything that's natural. I'm addictive to tea tree products and everything with sea salt in it.
How much attention do you pay to meditation & exercise, or is it all natural? How do you stay in shape?
I try to do yoga, Pilates and boxing. I dance a lot and walk as much as i can. Like I said before, modeling is a 24 hour job, so everything that you do, effects your body in a good or bad way.
What makes you feel sexy?
When my husband tells me I'm beautiful, when I'm on the beach and when I swim in the ocean! I feel like a mermaid! And when I come out of the ocean I try to look like Halle Berry in James Bond.... Oh yes, and wind machines!!! Can't get enough of them!!
What is your favorite part about your body?
I think I like my bum and back.
Favorite kind of food:
My favorite kind of food is pretty much everything. I like Italian, Surinamese, Japanese, Soul food, Indonesian, Persian, Moroccan, and burgers and Banana Milkshakes! I love white chocolate and cheese! But i do eat really healthy. I love chicken, tuna, avocado and cottage cheese. Also i eat a lot of almond nuts and i drink a cup of wheatgrass shot every morning.
When models say they eat healthy, what do they mean by that?
For me being healthy is a lifestyle. I eat greens and don’t use a lot of sugar. I try to sleep a lot and do exercise. I walk and i bicycle. I go to the gym and sometimes i eat raw food.
How would you describe yourself as a human being in three words?
Fighter, crazy and emotional
What’s controversial or unique about you?
I ask my best friend for an answer and she said; Everything!! Haha, i look like a though girl but I’m really sweet. I have a big heart. I don’t know if that makes me unique enough but I’ve been through a lot and I’ve been hurt many times, but still I’m really a positive person.
If you could have one superpower, what would you choose?
Then i could snap in my fingers and travel through different places and time zones in seconds.
What would you like to change about yourself if you can choose only one thing?
Maybe I could be less emotional. And i have a lot of temperament. I could lose Some of that too!
What are your favorite things to do in your free time?
Spending time with my loved ones, my dog, sleep, cook, shopping and travel.
Do you have a mentor? Who? What is it about them that affects you? Why?
My mentor is my husband! He is really supportive to me and let me spread my wings. He believes in me and accepts the fact that we are often separate and live in different time zones. He is always there for me and helps me with no matter what. He also had a good sense for humor and makes me laugh out loud whenever I need it.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? What could be your next career?
In ten years hopefully I will have children and a house on the beach. I have a surfboard and jet ski rental. I still work as a model and I act more. By that time I will write a book about my life and children books. I have launched my own brand and I will spend as much time as I want with cooking for my husband and children.
Do people act different around you since you’ve become a model?
I don’t care about what other people think about me. The only people who are important to me are the ones I love. Because i know That they love me back for whom I am, not for what I am.
Favorite kind of music? Favorite television series or movie?
I love Soul, R&B, Hip Hop, dancehall, reggae, and house. I love Sade and Tupac, but I also listen to Debussy for Hours. I like to watch documentaries about music, Conspiracy, slavery and the 2nd WW. But I’m a sucker for The Kardashians, i just love them. My favorite movies are Schindlers list, The House of Spirits and Legends of the Fall. I love Hatchi, a dog’s tale!
Favorite quote: When life hands you lemons, make lemonade! :)
Stars can’t Shine without Darkness
What’s your favorite fashion magazine? Why?
Italian and American Vogue. They are my fashion bibles.
I'd like to meet …
Waris Diri and Tupac 's Mother
Happiness is …
See the beauty in little things and wake up next to your soul mate
If you could change one thing in the past years, what would it be?
Nothing, life is just life.....
People have said I look like …
Kim Wilde, Blondie, Cara Delevigne, Hilary Rhoda, Heidi Klum and my Mother
What would you ask yourself that we haven’t asked you in this interview?
Nothing, just wanna say: Don't judge a Book by his cover.
Thank you Kim for this great interview!
note: all answers are original and unaltered - Editor:Iva ; Intro: Theo Villegas