When Jed Root moved to New York City in 1981, he began his career as a freelancer in the fashion industry. After gaining experience assisting hair stylists, makeup artists and wardrobe stylists, Jed became an agent at Name Model Management, a well-respected boutique modeling agency, and worked there for the next three years. In 1989, he founded Jed Root, Inc. What began as an operation working out of his East Village apartment, the internationally-acclaimed agency has grown to become one of the top artist management agencies in the world with its family of fashion photographers, makeup artists, hair stylists, fashion stylists, illustrators, prop/set designers and manicurists. Jed Root, Inc. has helped bring great success and international acclaim to hundreds of artists throughout the last 20 years. I got the chance to speak with Jed about how he got started in the business, the events that led to his global expansion and what it's like to do business on three continents.
How long have you been working in the industry? What made you want to open you own agency?
I was introduced to this business as soon as I moved to New York in 1981. I held a number of various jobs - hair assistant, stylist’s assistant, worked in a fur boutique on Madison Ave. etc. My first real, full-time job was working at Name Models from 1986-1988. That made me realize I enjoyed being an agent but didn’t especially love the model business at that point. So I started Jed Root, Inc. in the beginning of 1989.
You have offices all over the world. What events led to your global expansion?
Yes, there are eight global offices. Jed Root, Inc. is in New York, Tokyo, London, Paris and Los Angeles. Then I have a model agency, Root Management, in New York; a talent agency for actors, TCA Jed Root, in Los Angeles; and my production company, 3 Production, in New York as well. There was really no master plan per se. It was really all about taking advantage of the opportunities that arose. Soon after opening the agency in New York, I had a lot of opportunities to work in Tokyo where I met Chisato Kohno. We hit it off immediately, and I realized he was someone I could really trust and work with. So we started our collaboration then. Paris was next, as I started going there a lot to develop contacts and also met Pascal and Soukeye Deplechin. Again, they were great and totally trustworthy, so I opened Jed Root Europe. London was more of a planned expansion. I had not done a lot of business there but kept seeing all this great, young talent coming from London. I was just very lucky to meet some really fantastic people to work for me over there. And the same happened with Los Angeles. I met the right people and the timing seemed perfect in terms of what was happening with the business out west.
You must experience many different ways of doing business with offices on three continents. Can you talk a bit about how the industry changes from country to country?
I’m so used to it that it’s really difficult for me to accurately quantify. But I think New York and London are pretty close in the way the business works. Paris is pretty similar too, but people tend to move a bit slower there and it takes longer to get established. But I have definitely found, to my surprise, a lot of Paris clients have been much more open to working with young photographers than the London or New York clients have been. I find Los Angeles to be more of a different business culture from New York than Europe is, and Japan is totally contrasting.
You represent some incredibly successful and innovative clients. Has there been a favorite(s) project you've worked on in the past couple of years?
It would really be hard to pick a favorite! But I really do enjoy helping artists create products and do endorsement deals - Dick Page for Shiseido, Rumiko for RMK and Harry Josh for John Frieda are a few examples. Also, we recently did a licensing deal with a Japanese company to use our illustrators’ work on home furnishing products. We have a Exhibitions & Publications Department that works on book publishing deals and museum exhibitions for the artists. And it’s very exciting to be getting involved in the entertainment business through TCA Jed Root.
Can you talk a bit about what is coming up this year for Jed Root?
No idea honestly! I’ve never really had any sort of master plan. It’s generally more about taking advantage of the opportunities that arise. I think geographically, I’m pretty well covered with all of the offices I have. I’m not all that interested in the Chinese market, although I think Latin America could be interesting as I think they share more esthetic values with the United States and Europe than China does.
To learn more about Jed Root, Inc., visit the agency online at jedroot.com.