A Model Minority

Arlenis Sosa is a name that might not sound familiar to a lot of people, but in the fashion world, this 22-year-old with the stunning smile and beautiful cocoa skin is known as one of the “it girls.”

Originally from Monte Cristi, in the Dominican Republic, Sosa has already landed on the cover of over 15 magazines, including Time Style & Design, Latina and numerous Vogues all around the world. With only two years in the high fashion industry, she ranks 26 on models.com’s list of the Top 50 Models in the World.

Alongside legendary models like Iman, Naomi Campbell and Tyra Banks, Sosa was featured in Italian Vogue’s legendary “All Black” issue in 2008. The magazine sold out in the U.K. and the United States within 72 hours, and Sosa’s life changed.

“I came to New York to sign with my modeling agency and one week later I booked an editorial to be featured in Vogue Italia’s Black Issue,” Sosa said. “Within weeks, I opened and closed the Oscar De La Renta show in New York.”

Three months into her modeling career, Sosa, then 19, became the new face of Lancôme. Since then, she has walked for some of the most prestigious designers and fashion houses in the world, including Carolina Herrera, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Jean Paul Gaultier and Hermes.

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Sosa says that veteran models always come up to her and tell her that they are in awe of her rapid success.

“Sessilee Lopez, who has 7 years in the business, told me, ‘You came two years ago and you are this far, I can’t believe it!’”, Sosa said.

One year ago, Sosa started her own children’s foundation, called The Arlenis Foundation. It focuses on children with diabetes.

“I created this foundation because I got inspired by a 12-year-old girl in my village. She has diabetes, but her parents did not have any money for medication,” Sosa said.

Sosa does not only provide money for medication; she also provides a service that educates people with the disease and their families on how to treat and beat it.

Sosa’s success is affecting more than just her own life. Now that she is in high demand, agencies and designers are hiring more Dominican talent.

Jeff Kolsrud, owner of Q Model Management, has over 20 years in the modeling industry. He recalls the days when only a certain type of model would make it: “Before, in order to become successful, you needed to have blond hair and blue eyes. Now, being exotic is what’s in demand.”

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