ModelCo founder and CEO Shelley Sullivan has been a trailblazer in the worlds of fashion and beauty for the past 20 years. After establishing her successful model and talent agency in the 90’s, in 2001 she identified a new business opportunity in the beauty market. With an intuitive knack for knowing what women (really) wanted in their makeup bags, Shelley envisaged believable, achievable beauty – and launched ModelCo with a range of luxurious, yet affordable, premium-quality products.
“Looking after so many models, I listened and learnt what they really wanted in their beauty regimens: quick-fix and smart beauty products that they could afford,” says Shelley.
“Models tend to be a tough audience. They spend half their time sitting in the makeup chair and have access to so many different brands. I knew if I could create something my girls loved and used in their downtime, then I was really on to something.”
Shelley created a first-to-market heated lash curler, called Turbo Lash Wand, followed by Tan Airbrush In A Can - the world’s first airbrush self-tanning spray. With two global product hits on her hands, Shelley then expanded the ModelCo range into on-trend colour cosmetics, complexion-perfecting natural skincare, and further self-tanning innovations. Today, there are over 250 products in the ModelCo range and Shelley received a number of prestigious business accolades including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year and the American Express Award for Fastest Growing Small Business.
Shelley continued to build on the ModelCo brand’s early ties to the modelling world by initiating some clever collaborations with some of the world’s most influential women including Elle Macpherson, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Danni Minogue, and Hailey Baldwin, who have all acted as brand ambassadors.
“Partnering with strong and empowering women has become something of a ModelCo signature,” explains Shelley. “All of the celebrity ambassadors we have worked with have a genuine love of and interest in beauty and our commitment to quality, innovative products and believable, achievable beauty has really resonated with them.”
Considered one of Australia’s leading female entrepreneurs with over 20 years experience in business, Shelley was invited to join the cast of Channel Nine's hit reality show Celebrity Apprentice in 2015, as both an advisor to host Mark Bouris and a mentor to the celebrity contestants.
In 2018, Shelley launched a new collaboration with global fashion icon and creative genius Karl Lagerfeld, to launch the KARL LAGERFELD + MODELCO limited-edition colour cosmetics collection. Emblazoned with ModelCo’s high-quality formulas, technical packaging and KARL LAGERFELD’s artistic aesthetic, the collection achieved global recognition. The collection was available through KARL LAGERFELD stores and KARL.COM, ModelCo’s premium distribution network modelco.com and in retail stores such as Nordstrom, Douglas, Cult Beauty and Galeries Lafayette in 32 countries worldwide.
In 2020, Shelley relaunched the ModelCo brand with new, updated hot pink packaging, to coincide with the launch our Tested On Role Models Not Animals campaign, featuring inspiring Aussie models Charlee Fraser, Astrid Holler, Cameron Stephens and Agi Akur.
Shelley now leads a team of more than 20 staff based at HQ in Sydney Australia, many of whom have been with her since the very start.
As Shelley herself says, this is only the beginning.