Who is Maja Milićević-Klugh? Well, for the February 2021 edition of Rochester Woman Online, she happens to be our latest cover woman. I had the pleasure to sit down with this beautiful, smart, and brutally honest lady to find out, who exactly is Maja Klugh.
For those of you that know her, or have watched her walk our runways, you know that there is so much more behind the flawless makeup and silky dark locks then just a pretty face. She is a truly inspiring woman who didn’t start modeling until her 30’s. She is an educated engineer. She is all about family and friends and empowering those around her.
So tell us about Maja Milićević-Klugh? Where are you from? Tell us about your family and your background.
I am from Serbia, (ex Yugoslavia), in the Mediterranean area. I grew up in a very modest household with strong family values.We were so loved that we never knew that we were poor. What is being poor? It is state of mind. It is not about possessions for me.
How and when did you start modeling? Is it something you always wanted to do?
I started modeling in my 30s because I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. People always asked me if I was a model, so I said to myself, let’s try it esepcially since when I was in my 20s I wasn’t able to afford it. I started modeling later in my life then what is usually normal because getting a degree and my education was my number one priority. So no, it really wasn’s something I always wanted to do, but it definitely came naturally for me one I started.
I know your background is in engineering…Can you tell us a little bit about that.
I was always into art, painting, and even played the piano. But, I had to be practical because my hobbies were so expensive to pursue. I picked the college that is recognized everywhere in the World for engineering and got my degree so that I can work in almost any engineering company. I always tried to position myself to work smarter, not harder. Engineering is where I excelled.
What is your favorite part of doing what you do?
Being able to work in different areas, with different individuals, so I can always share my experiences and grow. Seeing things from their point of view is my favorite thing. Even if we don’t see eye to eye, I always love to hear how other people perceive things, or life.
Do you have any advice for other females of any age wanting to jump in to modeling and what the most important thing to remember is ?
Don’t just jump into modeling. Get your college degree and education first, or while you are doing modeling. Modeling should be a hobby, not your total source of income. You will get very frustrated and drained because it doesn’t just happen over night that you are a runway star or super model. Modeling gigs are few and far between, atleast the paid ones. Do it for the fun of it and see what comes out of it!
What has been your biggest challenge during the pandemic?
Being away from my family in Serbia has been very hard for me. I really have missed all of them since I haven’t seen them in 3 years now and the pandemic only made that harder! Not seeing family for many during this time has been hard. Hopefully we will be over it all soon.
What has been your biggest success both personally and professionally and why?
Living in Germany, Finland, along with many places in USA, and even Mexico made me realize that I can adapt to being part of any community on both professional and personal levels. It is a dream come true and I am so grateful for the opportunity to be able to travel and be successful in my career which makes my personal life successful too.
Who has made the biggest impact on your life and why?
That would have to be my parents who raised us to be very disciplined, hard working, respectful, kind and honest. I always guide myself with those family values and want my family and homeland to be proud of me.
Who has been your favorite fashion designer to work with? What about your favorite photographer?
No favorites of any kind really. I have been very blessed and fortunate to be able to work with such a diverse group of individuals. For a little girl from Serbia, it is a dream come true to be able to get pampered, wear all these beautiful creations and be the one to fullfil the artists vision. I just really enjoy and love working with everyone, both designers and photosgraphers.
What do you know now that you didn’t know 10 years ago about yourself?
That I am capable to be an Engineer, a Teacher, a Volunteer and even a Model, which is only possible in the USA. It is the best country in the world.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced in your life, and how did you overcome it?
My appearance was my biggest obstacle. I had difficulties getting a job as an Engineer because I don’t look like the “typical” woman Engineer! What is a woman Engineer supposed to look like exactly? On the manufacturing floor they would not take me for seriously because of my looks. They would say, “What does she know?”
In modeling, many casting auditions I have been rejected because I am too tall, pretty, sophisticated, exotic, don’t look my age…
None of it stopped me from growing stronger, more successful, smarter, and more determined! I became more kind, humble, giving, approachable, and easy-going because I didn’t let all the negativity break me. Don’t become like them, or then they have won. Be an example, a role model with your good deeds and pure intentions. That is my motto.
What made you interested in engineering? What about modeling?
I have always been a nerd and knowledge is power. No one can take it from you, so love learning, breaking stereotypes and creating your own path. The same reason why I decided to pursue engineering is why I decided on modeling! How many Engineers are models and vice versa? Why not? Life is way too short to fit in a box. I am way to fabulous, classy and sassy for it!
Are there any resources, or even advice that someone has given you that has really helped you on your journey?
Always remembered to treat people the way you want to be treated. My mission in this life is to change the world by being kind every opportunity I have.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in your career thus far?
Determination got me to conquer a lot of things and master the impossible. I see myself as someone who is still developing and evolving accomplishments.
What do you think your unique skill(s) is that has helped you become successful?
Resilience! Always telling myself: It never gets easier! We become tougher by turning pain into power!
What are your goals as a model? How do you see yourself progress in this field, especially since getting into this field when you were older?
Honestly, I don’t have any set goals as a model. Doing it for fun and goodness of heart is all I care about. The biggest gain is meeting and getting to know so many different people from different levels of experience to just being able to inspire one another.
How do you communicate with people? Are you patient? Are you friendly?
Most important is to listen and have a very open line of communication. I love when people tell me how approachable and easy going I am! Is there any other way to be? We are all the same and no one is better than the other.
What is your favorite form of social media in 2021 and why?
All social media if it’s used to spread love and positivity. We all need to support each other and be there for one another. Social media can be a great tool for that if used correctly.
What sort of settings/clothes/brands do you prefer to shoot for, or wear?
Don’t have any preference. I always go with the flow and make the best out of it. Remember, someone put time and effort to create certain designs so you should be honored to wear them and be part of their vision.
Many people have unrealistic expectations and ideas about modeling. How have you overcome these?
Nothing to overcome…just make it happen. No time to waste! Someone gives you an opportunity, use it and create beautiful art. Even if you need to change clothing at a public parking lot or bathroom, just do it. 99% of modeling is not glamorous. But, you make it look that way by being professional and resourceful.
Good models are always ready to receive criticism, they actually embrace it since it helps them to improve in their job, and become better models. Do you find this to be the same in the engineering world?
I really don’t see it as criticism. I see it as instructions, or directions which I use to better myself. This is especially true with photographers since I don’t see what the person behind the lens sees.
The same goes with Engineering. Always observe and don’t try to change things. Be part of the process by improving it with growing tougher, and stronger as team.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully having a couple of toddlers running around and enjoying family life all while teaching, modeling, engineering and volunteering. Remember, if other people can do it, you can do it. No one is better than the other, but it is ok to fall apart some times. Just rise up next day like Phoenix out of the Ashes and conquer the world!