GRAPEVINE, Texas — Supermodel turned business mogul Kathy Ireland is publishing her first novel, based on true stories, which reveals the cutthroat side of the modeling industry.
“There’s so many young girls who feel like they must succumb to inappropriate, even dangerous behavior,” Ireland told WFAA. “There were things that I experienced in my naïve youth, I went to people who were actually complicit in that behavior. Today, I would go to the police."
The novel, Fashion Jungle, tells the story of four women in the modeling industry. Ireland said events she experienced as a model inspired the book which will be released January 28, 2020.
“I remember just sitting in stunned silence almost wanting to cry,” said Rachel Van Dyken, co-author, after beginning to work with Ireland on the book. “It’s really heavy stuff but it’s a message that has to be told. Anyone can identify with any of those women, any of those characters, especially in the environment that we’re in with the MeToo movement.”
Ireland and Van Dyken said Fashion Jungle adds to the national conversation on sexual harassment and sexual assault of women but was not timed for it.
When asked how she survived the jungle, Ireland said: “I was blessed with really great parents and a best friend who made it possible for me to survive.”
Still, Ireland said she did find herself in a situation once during that period that got physical.
“There was an instance - only once - where I physically had to punch someone [that] I needed to escape from. I am so grateful that I did survive and tragically so many don’t," Ireland said. “I’m not a violent person. I’m pretty peaceful. But if someone crosses a boundary and if they get physical, I’ll punch back. It’s something we teach our children to do."
“I think people are always afraid to talk about their experiences. I think it’s so brave that Kathy has come forward and said ‘look, this is not all glitz and glamour and being in the limelight. There’s so much behind the scenes that goes on that people have no idea,’ Van Dyken added.
Ireland and Van Dyken were in North Texas with 150 other authors last weekend for Book Bonanza at Grapevine’s Gaylord Texan Resort.
But Ireland’s own story is fascinating.
She went from delivering newspapers as a kid in Santa Barbara, California to the covers of Vogue, Teen, Cosmopolitan and Sports Illustrated before starting her own company.
Ireland, who said she “barely finished high school,” is now one of the richest self-made women in the world by selling thousands of items and licensing her name.
Her private company, kathy ireland Worldwide, employs 123 people, she said. Her name is lower-case in the company logo because Ireland said the business should be less about her and more about her customers.
kiWW sells more than 17,000 items from socks and sleepwear to furniture and flooring.
Forbes reported her company has revenues of $2.5-billion dollars outselling Martha Stewart and Ralph Lauren. The magazine also ranked Ireland as one of the wealthiest women in the world with a net worth of $420-million dollars.
But Ireland and Van Dyken said they are especially proud of Fashion Jungle.
“It’s a meaningful story. It’s a cautionary tale. If you make it out of the jungle, you just might have a story to tell yourself,” Ireland said.