Lifexury: Runway Models As Waiters, Because 'Regular Waiters Are Not Enough When Gucci, Vuitton, Ferrari Are Your Clients'


Editor’s note: The external, unpaid contributor who authored this story is no longer part of Benzinga’s contributor network. This content is under review for accuracy.

In the second edition of the Lifexury series, David Daxsen interviews Ernest Sturm from Runway Waiters.

Luxury means focusing on creating unique and unforgettable experiences and delivering exceptional personal service, and that’s what Ernest Sturm is committed to doing with Runway Waiters.

Yes: Waiters Direct From The Runway

Runway Waiters only works with models signed by top modeling agencies, such as Elite Model Management, Ford Models, IMG Models and NEXT Management.

Aside from the strict selection process, Runway Waiters receive intensive training where they are provided extensive knowledge and experience in the catering and hospitality industry to tend to clients like Ralph Lauren RL, Tom Ford, Versace, YSL, Fendi, Armani, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Bentley.

"We’re the first company in the world, and still the only staffing agency, that offers agency-signed high fashion models as catering staff, bartenders, promotional models and brand ambassadors for high-end clientele and top-tier event companies," says Ernest Sturm, CEO and founder of Runway Waiters.

The topic is so interesting I feel the need to go deeply into the business model, challenges and experiences.

- What do you consider are some notable career highlights of Runway?

Runway Waiters has worked with companies that include but are not limited to notable events surrounding NYFW, Sundance Movie Festival, Miami Art Basel, Coachella Festival,  Emmys, Grammys, Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic, celebrity special occasions, luxury hotel openings, fundraisers in the Hamptons, car unveilings for brands such as Bentley, Rolls Royse, Maserati, Lamborghini, Ferrari, and multi-million dollar real estate listings (open houses, private viewings, client meetings), among others.

- What were the biggest challenges youve faced and how did you overcome them?

Challenges early onset were that model agencies were hesitant to have their models work for us as servers and bartenders. However, they quickly discovered that we did not take them away from their modeling careers, in fact, the opposite happened. Opportunities blossom by having their models immerse themselves in the world of high-end events where they would meet execs, photographers, brand owners, casting directors, etc.

They also learned our staff has very flexible hours that other employments would not be able to match. This allowed the models to also focus and prioritize their modeling careers while at the same time being able to create a supplemental source of income to support their living expenses.

- Ernest, definitely you are a visionary entrepreneur finding a unique way to tend to high-end clients with a new standard while at the same time being helpful to models who often struggle on the way to the top by covering expenses mostly in cities like Los Angeles and New York where I see you provide models, bartenders, and waiters for hire. Where do you see yourself/your brand in a few years? What are some of your dreams and aspirations?

We see our brand expanding worldwide and becoming the go-to company for all high-end events, a model staffing agency for any events requiring models.

Be it brand ambassadors, promotional models, model bartenders, model waiters or any model staffing, we see Runway Waiters as being the top choice and the best model staffing agency not only in Los Angeles, New York and Miami, but the rest of the USA and worldwide. Our aspiration is to become synonymous with model staffing, we want to be the only company that both models and event professionals think about when they need models for events.  

- What wisdom would you want to share with others? What lessons can people learn from you?

Lessons never stop, we are always learning and coming up with ways to be better. Our hope is that when the models stop working events with us they will have learned how to be better than they were, both professionally and personally, in different areas of their life. We incorporate and indirectly teach customer service and common sense.


A High-End Future

Runway Models is a very interesting case because it is mixing luxury with technology. In an article published on Forbes, Ernest Sturm spoke about the advantages and challenges that technology will bring with AI.

The emergence of AI-based marketing by Facebook META and Google GOOG GOOGL has revolutionized the field by offering ad spend accountability and extreme targeting options. This trend has spilled over into influencer marketing.

See also: Lifexury #1: How Entrepreneur And Investor Derik Fay 'Failed' His Way To The Very Top Of The Business World, Completed Multi-Million Corporate Exits

Influencers and platforms such as Youtube, Instagram and Tiktok are currently fighting over marketing costs. Platforms go to great lengths to ensure that if someone pays to promote a message or product, it should be done through advertising.

"AI is the most powerful tool in the arsenal of these platforms, and they will continue to integrate AI and data analytics to ensure ad spend is highly effective. This reduces the money the influencer makes," says Sturm.

"Agencies like Runway are also using AI to understand people with active audiences, high engagement, and broad reach, and help those influencers buy or acquire followers without the associated influence or engagement; identify the most effective influencers for your campaigns by distinguishing them from fake influencers who acquire them in a non-organic way."

The Best of Both Worlds

Runway Waiters hires the same models who work on runways around the world to book effective fashion campaigns for your event. "These models will one day allow him to walk the runway at NYFW and serve champagne at Louis Vuitton's event," the CEO of affirms.

The biggest challenges for Runway Waiters are the ever-changing trends and expansion in a highly competitive industry. From in-store events to private parties to corporate events, Runway uses its model staff for production, Instagram influencer work, and social media marketing.

"We've learned to be flexible and stay on top of trends to stay competitive in the market," says Sturm.

An Unconventional CEO

More than just a founder with a unique idea, Ernest leaves us with two relevant thoughts he lives by in his daily life as the CEO of a growing company.

"The quote I use in my email signature perfectly states it: 'It's no longer about the stuff you make but it’s more so about the stories you tell,'" he explains.

And ends with one more: "First and foremost, knowing that everything is not going to always work out and that’s OK. It’s easy to be hard on yourself when you set a goal and it doesn’t turn out the way you want it to, but we have to remind ourselves that resiliency and flexibility are key!"

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This article is from an external contributor. It does not represent Benzinga's opinions and has not been edited for content.


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Posted In: EntertainmentInterviewGeneralErnes SturmLifexuryRunway Models
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