She also announced that she and Howard Sherwood are selling the company they started in 1985.
“We chose that time because the parents were there, (and) the international scouts were there,” Van Sickle says.
Alleigh Allen, who started working for Van Sickle 18 years ago when she was 17, will be the new owner of the company as of Nov. 1.
“I know I have very big shoes to fill,” Allen says.
“Everyone — everyone — knows Maryann,” she says. “If you’re part of the modeling industry, you know her name. You know Models and Images. Maryann has a reputation of having an amazing eye.”
It never was Van Sickle’s intention to have an internationally known modeling agency.
“It started quite by accident,” she says. “Our mission was basically to train young people to … have confidence and feel good about themselves.”
As a former model, though, she knew the industry and had contacts. When a scout passed through Wichita and wanted to know if Van Sickle could show her any models, it gave her an idea.
“We thought, wait a minute. This is what we should be doing.”
Until then, she says, Wichitans who wanted to be models “had to get on a plane and go to New York.”
“We just started inviting these scouts to come in. The word kind of got out in the industry. … It happened little by little.”
She says, “I felt that if the person has the right look, they might as well be working in New York, Paris and Milan and earning a lot of money.”
A couple of what Van Sickle calls her “superstar status” models who have gone on to international fame are Lindsey Wixson and Maria Bradley.
“She’s hot right now,” Van Sickle says of Bradley. “She’s one of the hottest new properties in New York.”
Now, she says Allen is poised to take the company to another level.
“She knows everything about the industry and is a perfect match for it,” Van Sickle says. “She’s done it all.”
In addition to having done every job at the company, Allen has a master’s degree in business.
“I always knew I wanted to be in the industry,” she says. “It’s just something that I just loved and got in my blood.”
Allen plans a few changes.
“I would love to see us take the company a little bit more global as far as incorporating more technology,” she says.
She’s going to start by redoing the Models and Images website.
Even though the company is well known, Allen says, “I would love to make some changes (to) increase the awareness of who we are.”
She also wants to put an increased focus on acting.
“I’m going to be incorporating more acting training into our program,” Allen says. “Honestly, the two kind of go hand-in-hand now.”
Van Sickle is going to “just sit back and relax for a while.”
“Frankly, today I’m just catching my breath,” she says.
“I don’t think that Wichita has any idea of the magnitude of the agencies that come in for this show. These are the top people in the industry that sit in our audience. They’re very selective.”
Van Sickle says she’s sad to be leaving but “very happy about who I’ve sold it to.”
Allen in return is happy to be taking over but is reluctant to see Van Sickle leave.
“Maryann has been my rock for the last 18 years in this industry. It’s going to be very hard to see her go.”