with Susan Hoff / @oathandgrind
Photography Sarah Lyons Gabman / EpicDestinationShoot.com / @EpicDestinationShoot
Hair & Makeup Lisa Opie / @Lisa_Opie
Wardrobe Styling Joey Rolon / @JoeyRolon
How do you like to begin your day? Early, in a ponytail, wearing a kiss of spicy lip gloss enjoying a bit of morning Cantucci and coffee, followed by a healthy gym workout.
How did you get started in the modeling industry? What inspired you to become a model? I’m an International WBFF Fitness Pro competitor. I met several professional photographers while traveling for shows who encouraged my modeling work. Nowadays I don’t compete annually, but travel often for photoshoots to amazing destinations.
Best place you have ever been to in the world? Teti’aroa, a private atoll in French Polynesia. Accessible only via airplane, it’s luxurious, romantic, remote, and always stocks incredible champagne.
What are some of your biggest dreams you hope to achieve? Gracing the cover of Playboy is right up there. It’s an absolute honor! I’d also love to model in an international fashion show for Versace or Dior someday. GiGi Hadid is my ‘spirit animal’ as a little powerhouse with long legs. Honestly, at this age, many would say I’ve lived a charmed life. I’m a college graduate, earned my Master’s degree (I studied at UniSA for one session), am a retired CCO (Chief Communications Officer) for a Fortune 500 NYSE company, am the Proprietress of an iconic winery in Napa Valley, California USA, and have a loving family who support all my entrepreneurial endeavors.
What does freedom of self-expression mean to you? The right to be yourself in any environment. I enjoyed working in an electronics industry that was mostly male-dominated. I knew who I was, and what I was capable of bringing to the board room. When I went to work I dressed to impress – not to blend into the corporate style that had women simply fitting in. That’s nonsense! I wore my tresses long, slightly tousled, a pencil skirt, a fetching jacket or a stylish dress, and always in stilettos or high-heeled boots. I’m 5’2” with long legs and heels were a must. I’m still so comfortable in them, I could probably wear them on a basketball court if I needed to. Dressing for an occasion is always a pleasure.
How do you prepare physically and mentally for a photo shoot that will be seen by so many people? I’m in the gym lifting six days a week. I need to be photoshoot-ready quickly so I don’t miss wonderful opportunities like this one. I’ve had the same strength coach for over 16 years. We train certain muscle groups to garner the look I’ll need. I’m also a big macro (nutrient) counter, so a basic diet down, decreasing macros is a must, just as a slow uptick in macros after a shoot back to normal is par for the course. (It just isn’t as intense as it is for the professional fitness stage that wants to count my abs and see muscular development.) I also research the magazines, poses, and wardrobes I’d like to wear for the shoot and work with the photographer in advance to align expectations. I enjoy photo shoots. I like the prep, the day off, and the reward of seeing the images published. It’s easy to get into the mood when you enjoy what you are doing.
What are your favorite aspects of modeling, and what challenges have you encountered along the way? I enjoy the preparation maybe as much as I enjoy being in front of the lens. The research: Learning about the site, the wardrobe, the makeup, the hair styling, the photographer’s panache, the lighting effects, the magazine’s content, the travel, and even the workouts to achieve just the right look. Being in front of the lens is a treat and I don’t take the opportunity lightly. I’m an older model with a bit more seasoning, so not much intimidates me. If it doesn’t feel right, I just don’t accept the shoot. The craziest challenges have usually been working with the site locations. I almost rolled off a cliff near Lake Tahoe getting a bikini shot and another time in London had an onlooker ask my photographer for directions while I was changing behind the reflector he was holding. Believe me, every shoot has a story.
Who are some of the models or influencers that you admire and draw inspiration from in your career? Pamela Anderson, Angelina Jolie, and Naomi Campbell are all stunning women who have achieved so much and are as smart as they are beautiful. Throughout the years they all have had incredible staying power. Their personas are sexy, real, and relevant. Who doesn’t want to learn about the work they do, and the causes they represent and follow their social channels for a glimpse at their life.
What’s one thing about yourself that your fans might be surprised to learn? I’m a new grandmother! My granddaughter calls me GiGi.
3 things that you can’t go a day without. My morning rituals, my iPhone (I like to be connected), and an opportunity for a quiet moment to appreciate where I am and who I’m with.
If you could choose one word to describe your journey as a model so far, what would it be, and why? Empowering. I dedicated my 20s and 30s to building a high-profile career and a family. It wasn’t until my 40s that I could invest real effort into my fitness and modeling careers.
What do you believe sets you apart from other models in the industry? My life experiences. Being a desired model is more than looks. My business career, my travels, my competitions, my personal life and all the lessons – wins and losses – that come with the years reflect in my persona. There’s something special that happens in front of the lens with experience. Prowess comes with time.
Can you share any exciting upcoming projects or collaborations you’re involved in? I have another national magazine photoshoot on the books. I collaborate with several health and longevity products on my fitness channel @OathandGrind. Our Napa Valley winery is growing nationally while our European organic wine brand is jump-starting its growth in the USA next spring. Between modeling, gym time, wine work, fashion shows, international travel, and family events, my schedule keeps me on my toes.
Thanks so much for your time. Where can our readers follow you on social to stay updated on what you’re up to? IG: @OathandGrind or @FantescaGirl FB: Susan Hoff or Oath and Grind by Susan Hoff X @susanhoff or @oathandgrind Websites Linktr.ee/SusanHoff or Fantesca.com or oathandGrind.com.