Beyond the Runway: How Models Transition to Trailblazers in Business and Activism

The fashion world is full of young models who are eager to make their mark on the runway and the pages of couture magazines. As they mature and gain experience in the industry, many of these women use their knowledge and talents to pivot to other ventures. Successful models including Miranda Kerr, Jessica Michibata, Lily Cole, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and Karlie Kloss have seamlessly leveraged their fame and their platforms to transition into entrepreneurship, acting, and nonprofit activities. Their foray into activism and business illustrates the full range of their talents, allowing them to spread their influence far beyond the world of fashion.

Miranda Kerr is one of the most successful models to come out of Australia. After appearing in ads forwell-known brands such as Maybelline, Victoria’s Secret, and Clinique, Kerr launched her own skincare company, KORA Organics. KORA has achieved international recognition for its emphasis on natural ingredients, including crystals and aromatherapy, which help it to deliver consistent and immediate results. In addition to her entrepreneurial success, Kerr is also a writer. Her book, Treasure Yourself, is a self-help book written for teenage girls.

Jessica Michibata began her modeling career in Japan, and quickly became an international success. She has been the face of Nike and Tag Heuer, and had roles in several films. Michibata stepped away from her modeling career to pursue her dream of writing. She is the author of several Japanese books, including I Love Being Me – a story of how a young girl responds to racism. After being in high demand for so many years, Jessica has found that she loves being out of the spotlight. Her quieter life allows her to pursue her passions, including beekeeping, Reiki, and permaculture.  

Hailing from Britain, Lily Cole made her mark on the runways of Chanel, Alexander McQueen, and Louis Vuitton, and in the advertising campaigns including Hermes, Tiffany & Co., and Marks and Spencer. After pivoting into an acting career, Cole pursued her passion for environmentalism by writing Who Cares Wins, a book which explores solutions for improving the health of the planet. She is the founder of, an incubator for artists, engineers, and designers, who work together to address social issues.

Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, also from England, has appeared on the covers of British Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and GQ UK. After leaving modeling, she became the founder and Chief Creative Officer of Rose Inc, which manufactures sustainable makeup, skin, and hair products. Rose Inc partners with Amyris, a biotech company that boasts clean chemistry in producing superior color and skincare goods.

American Karlie Kloss has graced the advertisements of Bergdorf Goodman, Adidas, Calvin Klein, and Versace. But Kloss is not merely another pretty face, she is also an accomplished computer programmer. In 2015, she founded Kode with Klossy, a nonprofit organization that empowers girls to study coding and pursue careers in technology. In addition to her computer capabilities, Kloss became the host of Project Runway in 2019.

These are just some of the examples of creative and talented women who have launched new careers after leaving the runways. Their ambition and their desire to improve the world around them has led them to seek opportunities in the business and nonprofit sectors. The glamorous and fast paced world of modeling does not have to be a goal in and of itself, rather it can be a stepping stone to diverse opportunities in the world of entrepreneurship and beyond.


Rachel Forsythe has a B.A. in English Literature and worked as an editor for a local weekly news magazine. She is now a stay-at-home mom, raising three younger boys and two older daughters. Her favorite activities are hiking, reading, traveling, bike riding, skiing in the winter and surfing in the summer. She also loves to cook. Be in touch with Rachel at Rachel[at]

View all posts by