KATY MAGAZINE I OCTOBER 2019
By Jennifer Miko
Meet Katelyn Royster, a talented local girl who followed a dream. When she was 17, she traded in her Katy High School Bengal Brigade uniform to model designer clothes on a runway during New York City’s Fashion Week.
Photo: Lookbook for Longchamp
Katelyn Royster lived in Katy all of her life. She took dance lessons for years, and went on campouts and sold cookies in the Girl Scouts. From elementary through high school Katelyn proudly wore Katy red. She joined the Brigade team and rooted for the Tigers, and along the way, became more interested in fashion and trends.
When Opportunity Knocks
Katelyn never considered trying modeling. Then one appointment at the hair salon changed her mind. The salon manager at Visible Changes in Houston asked 14-year-old Katelyn if she would like to model different hairstyles and clothing looks in the company’s corporate runway show in Houston.
Her mother Shelly says, “I was so incredibly in awe seeing my daughter walking the runway with such confidence, poise, and professionalism. She really could strut her stuff in those high heels.”
“Modeling for this company helped me discover that I wanted to get into modeling professionally,” says Katelyn.
Katelyn began researching modeling agencies to learn which ones were reputable and would be the best fit for her and her family. Afterall, she was still in high school and needed a parent to accompany her. Several small agencies wanted to recruit Katelyn. But they wanted the Roysters to pay fees upfront for photo shots to build her portfolio and for model cards for potential clients to hire her.
“I was not willing to pay fees upfront because I believed if they wanted her and were confident that she would get jobs, they would be willing to invest in her up front and would get their cut through her hired jobs,” says Shelly.
Signing with an Agent
When she was 16, a boutique agency in Austin, Mazza Models, signed the five-foot-nine teen and invested in her and booked her on some jobs. Shelly drove Katelyn to every photo shoot she had in Texas to develop her portfolio. The Austin agent also promoted her to major agencies in New York City.
“I was very fortunate to get scouted by various top modeling agencies such as IMG Models and Ford Models through a hashtag on Instagram called #WLYG (we love your genes),” says Katelyn. “I decided to post a natural/no makeup selfie to see if anything would come from it. Little did I know, this one photo led me to my career in modeling.”
Three years after her first runway opportunity, Katelyn booked her first paid photo shoot. She modeled for a bridal shop in Houston, wearing 27 different bridesmaid dresses for their website.
Photo: Honey Gem Creative
Off to New York
Katelyn and her mom flew to the Big Apple to visit five different agencies. There, the agents took pictures and watched her model. Three of the five agencies offered her contracts. After diligent research they signed with One Management in N.Y.C. and then New Madison Models in Paris. Katelyn was just 17 years old.
“My family was very supportive,” says Katelyn. “My mom was by my side through all the emails and skype calls we had with various agencies to find the right one.”
The Royster Family: Shelly, Hillary, Katelyn, Allyson and Richard
Shelly teaches full time in Katy ISD, and her husband Richard is a firefighter. They also have twin daughters in high school. So, traveling to the East Coast, and then Europe, was not an easy task.
“I really didn't think she would be offered to go to New York City and Europe so soon," Shelly recalls. "She was still in high school so we had to arrange special circumstances with the school and her getting the work to not get behind.”
Since signing with One Management, Katelyn has had modeling assignments in various cities in Texas and Atlanta, GA, as well as Istanbul, Turkey. She was also invited to travel to Paris, France by designer Balenciaga.
“I’ve always wanted to travel to Europe!” says Katelyn. “Paris is so beautiful, with the Eiffel Tower and the architecture and history of the buildings.”
Katelyn participated in N.Y.C. and Paris Fashion Weeks two years in a row. She got to walk for well-known brands such as VFILES, JNBY, Lauren Manoogian, Marimekko, Johanna Ortiz, and 3.1 Phillip Lim. The audiences at these events were filled with celebrities and fashion critics from all over the world.
2018 New York Fashion Week; Photo: Runway for VFILES
Not Your 9-to-5 Job
Katelyn says her photo shoots didn’t have a scheduled “finish” time. The length of the shoots depended on how many clothes, accessories, etc., the client wanted to be shot. She has worn clothes from famous designers such as Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga and Longchamp during her shoots.
“We wouldn't be finished until we had a perfect shot of everything the client wanted us to shoot,” Katelyn says. “You finish the shoot once the photographer and client both agree that they have enough good photos.”
Katelyn has another modeling project coming up soon for Visible Changes hair salon. When she's not modeling, she is taking her basic courses at Houston Community College. She intends to transfer to Texas A&M this fall to be an Aggie like her mom. She plans to work toward a Business degree in fashion marketing and communications.
Photo: Laurie Wardlow Photography
Shelly says Katelyn would enjoy working at runway events and/or with major fashion brands getting models ready for runway shows - making sure the brands she works for are worn properly and correctly displayed and well represented to potential buyers.
“My dream job is to be a celebrity stylist,” she says.
In her free time, Katelyn likes hanging out with friends, painting, water/jet skiing, shopping for clothes and styling outfits.
“She has built a confidence and self assurance in herself,” says Shelly. “She is not scared of failing and strives to do her best.”