Mamamia is supporting women who are running their own race with #ladystartup. Meet the faces behind the businesses we’re celebrating…
Chelsea Bonner is the daughter of two particularly prominent Australians.
Nola Clark and Tony Bonner.
Her mum was a famous model during the 1960s and 70s, and her dad came to fame on the Australian TV show, Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, and also starred in The Man From Snowy River.
But, Chelsea isn’t – by any means – defined by her parents.
The business she has created is even something Chelsea didn’t expect, and the influence she has had is immeasurable.
Read her interview with Mamamia.
What is BELLA Management?
I started BELLA 16 years ago when I saw a huge gap in the market for fashion models who represent the average dress size of the female population in Australia.
It was a combination of a personal mission to help change women’s health and self-esteem issues around size and body image, as well as my love of the fashion industry and skill set I had as an agent of many years.
Chelsea Bonner. Image: supplied.
So I felt I could put those skills to better use by encouraging body diversity throughout fashion and media; showing retailers and designers that by booking models who more closely represented their customer, it would be a win-win for everyone.
Sales would increase for the retailers because the customer would feel worthy of purchasing that item and accepted as a part of the brand, rather than not spending money on herself until she looks like the unrealistic sized models in the campaign photos.
What were you doing before you went into business for yourself?
I was an agent most of my adult life. I started working for my mum when I was 16 in her modelling and deportment school and went on to get a job as a junior booker in a big modelling agency in Melbourne, before moving into representing photographers, hair and makeup artists and stylists. I also took time off to model 'plus-size' in between and on holidays.
How did you come up with the name?
I wanted something that didn't have a size connotation attached to it. I love Italy so to just call it BELLA models felt right.
Why do you think so many women are starting their own businesses?
I love this new wave of women who are dreaming big and going for it.
In the younger sector, a lot of it is driven by seeing their own mums have to make compromises to fit into ‘traditional’ marriage roles and having career regrets.
Amongst my friends, divorce often leaves women who give up their careers in a shocking situation, where the financial split is uneven and her skill set is outdated. It’s very hard to get back into a career you left 10 or 15 years ago to raise the kids.