Verhoef walks the runway

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Lauren Verhoef has reached a goal of becoming a model. She is also pursuing a college degree, with plans for a career to take her around the world.

The goal of a little girl has found a reality in college. Laura Verhoef, 20, Greencastle, a sophomore at West Chester University, was a runway model during New York Fashion Week in February. Later that month she also walked in the Philly Fashion Week. The events are considered premier occasions for designers to introduce their fall collections.

At both shows she wore outfits created by Dom Streater, who won the Lifetime television   2012 Project Runway competition. The Philadelphia designer presented her 27-piece “Prima” Fall/Winter 2014 collection to editors, bloggers and insiders in the fashion industry.

Verhoef, a 2012 graduate of Greencastle-Antrim High School, knew what she wanted to do early on.

“I always in my mind wanted to be a model,” she said by phone recently.

Last year she walked into a Philadelphia agency and immediately was signed, due to her personality, they told her. From networking connections, Verhoef will also participate in a photo shoot in May. The designers will put the pictures in their catalogs, and the photographers and models will build their portfolios. Verhoef is also the runway coach for her agency.

Parading in front of critical eyes is an empowering experience, she said. “I don’t like going on roller coasters, but I think it’s like the same adrenaline rush. I blur everything out and feel like I have all the power in the world.”

She is a serious college student though, majoring in marketing with an international relations minor. She hopes for an internship with a West Chester company. She is taking German language classes and already knows Dutch, since she and her family lived in Holland for three years when she was young. She would like to model overseas, even next year, if opportunities arise.

Verhoef said she doesn’t party with the college crowd, since she has to maintain specific body  measurements. She is avoiding the pitfalls of some models though, by eating right and exercising, and remaining healthy.

The daughter of Jake and Lara Verhoef, she played volleyball on the high school team, and on club teams. Her 5 foot 10-inch height was useful for the sport. She took modeling classes during those years.

Lara Verhoef is proud of her daughter’s drive. “It’s absolutely awesome. She’s a fantastic kid, a college student with a part-time job and also a modeling gig. She was lanky and tall in middle school and was slightly picked on. Now she found her niche and is doing her thing.”

Verhoef is happy with how things have worked out. She isn’t earning big money yet, but Streater is giving her models free clothing from her line.

The future is wide open for Verhoef to follow her dream, which she hopes could eventually include being featured on top fashion magazine covers.

“You have to be determined and disciplined,” she said. “If you get an open call on short notice, you have to get it together and go to the call to get the job. Who you know is the biggest thing.”