“There are 8000 people sleeping rough on the streets
of London every year. People without homes come
from every walk of life, and many want to find work.
TIH Models aims to take these people by the hand. By
taking pictures, self-esteem and beauty can be built
up, and bloom again.”

Fashion and homelessness are not two words that are often paired
together. I interviewed Tatjana Hoffman, and together we discussed how
she is striving to change this conception of homelessness, and her passion
and vision for this unique agency.

Tatjana moved to London in 2016 from Nürnberg with the dream of
capturing good photos. After experiencing some people on the street who
felt uncomfortable with having their photo taken, Tatjana had a thought:
‘Would it work with fresh clothes?’

After working on her idea, Tatjana connected with brands and borrowed
their clothes. She wandered the streets and shelters looking for models,
hoping to make a difference and create a new idea, going as far as
cancelling an upcoming job. With an ethos of ‘be yourself,’ the company
is flourishing. “I see a good and exciting future. I hope to travel and bring
the agency to new cities. I am working on connections to Barcelona at the
moment, and I see no limits to what it can become,” Tatjana grins.
The company has just finished shooting new designer Bethany Williams’
collection, with homeless models Kris and Nathan, and I’m told has
upcoming projects that are “under top-secret wraps.”

Tatjana is right when she says that, “I think it starts by realising that
people affected by homelessness aren’t any different from us. It is nice
to work and earn money. It feels good to be accepted and treated like a
capable young person, and having some side income. It gives that spark
of hope that’s needed to believe that there still lies a good future ahead. A
circumstance never defines a person.”

As the mission continues, the purpose of such a company in today’s world
is clear. In 2016 the charity Shelter released the figure 250,000 as the
amount of homeless people in the UK, calling the total a ‘conservative’
estimate. The agency aims to not only tackle the money issues behind
homelessness, but to boost self-esteem and emotional issues, such as
depression and isolation – key factors in leading a healthy life.
With so many people living rough, modelling could offer a way out. Tatjana
points out that she mercifully hasn’t experienced much or any stigma
from the industry, explaining, “It’s mainly about looks, for most brands it
is not very important where a person comes from or what they do in their
personal life.”

So how does it work?
Tatjana has a wide range of connections to the network within the
homeless community, which she has built up by visiting shelters and
speaking to people in the streets. One of the models, Nathan, she met
through a connection with a shelter in Vauxhall and Moustapha, an aide of
Tatjana.

Currently, the company works primarily with people that have mobile
phones or friends with mobile phones, so that they can be contacted about
upcoming work details and be kept in the loop regarding jobs. Once she has
found a model, she first takes a couple of photos with her phone, and sets
up a date for a headshot: “It’s quite fun and random as the models don’t
always fully believe it’s going to happen.”

If you are looking to book any models, or have anyone you would like to
put in contact with the agency, you can find them at www.tihmodels.com.
Online, you can find all the models, their profiles and images, as well as
news, contact and booking forms. Tatjana says, “Feel free to phone in or
leave an email, with a budget, wishes and concerns.”

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