Sheffield modelling agency putting disability in the spotlight at first fashion show

Laura Johnson, third from right, and Zoe Proctor, third from left, with some of their models
Laura Johnson, third from right, and Zoe Proctor, third from left, with some of their models
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The Sheffield-based modelling agency which is the first in the UK to focus exclusively on models with physical and learning disabilities is preparing for its first fashion show.

Trained social worker Laura Johnson set up Zebedee Management earlier this year with sister-in-law and performing arts teacher Zoe Proctor after noticing an absence of disabled models on the catwalk.

The pair have seen the agency go from strength to strength and are busy preparing for its first catwalk show at Sheffield Hallam University's Student Union on Saturday, November 11.

The event will be a chance for all the agency's models to take part in something together while also being a showcase for industry professionals such as fashion designers, casting directors and photographers.

Zoe, who already runs a performing arts studio of the same name for those with learning disabilities.

Laura, from Stannington, said: "We are really trying to make a difference. We want to see more people with disabilities in the media, on television, in advertising and in fashion.

"There is just not enough representation of it.

"Give it 10 years and I think we will look back and be shocked that this was the situation."

The company has more than 200 models on its books and ages range from babies through to people in their fifties.

"We are trying to build up and older adult base too," said Laura.

"We have a mixture of people with physical and learning disabilities, both visible and hidden disabilities.

"We have people with additional needs so for example we have models with Tourette Syndrome and others with autism.

"They are just looking for someone who will represent them sensitively and look after their needs as clients in a way that perhaps they may not get with other agencies."

There has already been success for several of the models who have landed contracts with Disney, Asda, River Island, Matalan and Superdrug.

One model also featured in the Teatum Jones show at London Fashion Week.

Laura added: "It's really great that we have had these jobs but we want to do better.

"We want it to be the norm that our models are considered for jobs.

"Our ethos is that we are putting our models up for jobs that other models, without disabilities, are going for."

As well as being a modelling agency, Zebedee Mangement also sees itself as a social enterprise.

Saturday's fashion show will be a chance for the models and their families to meet for the first time.

Laura said: "We are wanting to raise the profile of the models in the media and build a community for them and their families.

"The show is a chance for them to meet and engage with each other.

"It's an opportunity for us to showcase our models so they can gain catwalk experience."

Limited tickets are still available for the show, which will featured a catwalk show, performances and dances.

Tickets are £10 for adults and £5 for concessions and can be reserved by emailing eventsz@gmail.com

The show starts at 6pm.