Jones Model Management Puts Austin Models on the Map
Briley Jones’ agency brings an editorial perspective to the local fashion, photography and creative industries
By Emerson Taylor
It was the summer of 2014 in Kirksville, Missouri when Briley Jones was discovered and scouted by Jeff and Mary Clarke of Mother Model Management. Just 18 years old and attending classes at Truman State University, she had no idea what the future had in store.
Mother Model Management is responsible for the discovery of some of the industry’s biggest stars, including Karlie Kloss, Ashton Kutcher and Grace Hartzel. Jones knew that this was her chance to leave her small town behind and see more of the world.
“I had always loved being in front of the camera,” says Jones. “I felt like it was a way to creatively express myself.”
Shortly after moving to New York City to pursue modeling, Briley Jones was signed with Next Management Worldwide and thrown head first into a full fashion week circuit. London, Milan, Paris, Tokyo — Jones made her big debut walking for Bottega Veneta and Miu Miu, two of the industry’s top luxury brands.
Upon returning from her first fashion week, Jones was ready to plant her roots in New York and get to work as a full-time model, but her health had to come first. Jones had been living with Rheumatoid arthritis for years, and initially, it had been fairly easy to manage. However, with the constant travel and exhaustion that accompanies a model’s lifestyle, her condition began to progress.
One morning, while walking through the streets of New York, Jones stepped off a curb and fractured her foot. When her doctor joked that she could always move somewhere warmer to lessen her symptoms, Jones took it quite literally.
A quick Google search for “LGBTQ-Friendly Cities That Are Also Warm” produced three consistent results: Los Angeles, New Orleans and, the obvious stand-out, Austin. Jones packed up her things and moved south to Texas, establishing Jones Model Management in October 2017.
“I have always liked being a part of teenagers’ lives,” she says on her decision to start her own agency. “I think it’s a time when you can feel very out of place and misunderstood, which I can relate to. Especially if you dress like you’re walking through the streets of New York, in Texas, you’re going to be looked at differently.”
The more Jones continued to develop her agency and build her book of models, the more potential she saw for Austin to expand in the fashion market.
“The fashion and editorial community is definitely growing here,” she says. “And I am so excited to see where it goes.”
The summer following the start of COVID-19 pandemic, local developing models were unable to travel to major cities such as New York City and Los Angeles to gain experience for their portfolios. Jones saw this as an opportunity, not only for her company, but for the city itself.
“During that time, I realized that not only can we shoot editorials here, but JMM also has an opportunity to be a part of something bigger — putting the Austin fashion industry on the map,” she explains.
According to Jones, Austin has a sense of funkiness that appeals to the editorial world, and the city has potential to grow as a destination for runway shows, luxury brands and fashion enthusiasts to come together.
“I mean, I’m a dreamer, what can I say?” she laughs. “But seriously, there are so many talented Austin designers, photographers and creatives who deserve the platform.”
Model, artist and photographer Megan Otnes was Jones Model Management’s first scouted and signed model.
“Megan’s journey is a true testament to having dedication and trusting the process,” says Jones. “Watching her go to New York a few times and [success] not happening for her, having those tough phone calls and not knowing what was next, that was so hard.”
After waking up one morning from a dream that Otnes had cut her bangs, they were inspired to give it one last shot. Otnes chopped her hair in Jones’s kitchen, had a final test shoot and flew to New York to try again, and this time, she came back to Austin with a contract from Wilhelmina Models.
“Watching that email come in was one of those moments that brought me to tears,” says Jones. “It’s having the realization that the dream is finally happening, and there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing someone believe in themselves.”
For Jones, modeling isn’t just about one’s external beauty, but their heart, energy, confidence and desire to leave a positive impact on the industry and world.
“No one else can be you,” says Jones. “Stand out and be yourself at the end of the day. Don’t try and hide who you are because that is what separates you from the crowd.”