- Associated Press - Sunday, January 26, 2014

DECATUR, Ala. (AP) - When Tatum Hogue was in kindergarten, the teacher asked students to write words they liked. The small blue-eyed girl wrote, “I like fashin.” Despite her lack of spelling expertise, Hogue knew exactly what she liked - fashion.

A decade later, Hogue remembered the French Revolution in history class by associating the era’s elegant and over-the-top clothes with designer Alexander McQueen.

Magazines with photos of the now 15-year-old Hogue line the leather ottoman in the Hogues’ home in Decatur. The Austin High freshman has walked the runway in New York Fashion Week and is in 17 Magazine’s “7-Day Beauty Looks” February 2014 issue. She also has appeared in Vogue and Quinscent Magazine.

“It’s a crave. I crave to be in front of the camera. I crave to be on a runway,” Hogue said. “Once you get a taste, it’s addictive.”

Hogue first became interested in modeling at age 8, when she went to a Pro-Scout event in Huntsville. She signed with a modeling agency in Orlando, but her career did not go any further.

At 13, Hogue wanted to give the modeling industry another chance, but didn’t know how to start.

“I was at the doctor and my nurse said, ‘You should get into modeling.’ She gave me the number of a local agent,” Hogue said.

Hogue signed with the local agency, which became her “mother agent,” and was in New York the next week to meet people in the industry and to develop her modeling book. While she was in the big city, Hogue mastered the catwalk.

“I had the worst trouble learning to walk down the runway,” she said. “I had a walking coach. I walked for three hours. My feet were blistered. They hurt, but it worked.”

Hogue worked with her mother agent for a year. She returned to New York in January 2013 for photo shoots and to book shows for New York Fashion Week. Hogue, her mother Holly, two fellow models and the mother agent lived in a two-story apartment in Brooklyn for a month. Hogue booked nine shows - six of which were at Lincoln Center. The 5-foot-10-inch blonde walked the runway in one show for Spiegel.

“It was like a dream. It was exactly how I pictured it, but more cut-throat because directors and agents want the best for their company,” Hogue said.

Hogue, an only child, was told her hair was terrible and had a “Southern highlight.” Chubby baby face, too long of a nose, and lips are too small were some of the other comments she received. Some things can be changed, Hogue said, adding that she changed her hair color.

“You can’t let what people say hurt you. Everyone has beauty,” she said.

Her mother said it hurts her when Hogue has to endure negative comments, but “that’s part of the game,” Holly said.

When Hogue returned from New York, she signed with Click Model Management in Atlanta. So, Hogue and her mother, who runs her PishPosh Jewelry business from home, travel to Atlanta at least once a month. Hogue’s father, Todd, said he works a day job as health safety security and environmental manager at the Decatur BP Plant.

“I’m blessed to be able to leave it (her business) and help her pursue her dream and come back to it,” Holly said.

Holly’s primary role is transportation for her daughter, she said, adding that their schedule changes without much notice.

“We’re pros at packing in five minutes,” Hogue said with a giggle.

She has one or two photo shoots a week that last three hours each, and sometimes might not get home until 9 p.m.

“It’s tough balancing school and making good grades. When I was in New York, they sent me my assignments and I sent them back,” Hogue said.

Hogue’s father said Decatur City Schools has been accommodating of Hogue’s schedule.

“I’m a math and science guy and people think those are the only type of jobs. That’s not true,” Todd said. “The school system understands life experiences are a part of the learning process.”

Hogue said she in October when she received a call from a New York, N.Y., number. She thought it was a telemarketer, but her friend, Haley Mitchell, encouraged her to answer the call. It was 17 Magazine.

“They asked if I could be in their office the next day. I said, ‘Let me call my mom,’ ” Hogue said.

Hogue and Mitchell, who has known Hogue for four years, ran to the bathroom and squealed with excitement as they delivered the news to Hogue’s mother.

After school, the mother picked up Hogue and went straight to Nashville. The duo landed in New York that night and walked through 17’s office doors the next morning. Hogue said she loved being in the hustle and bustle of the industry in the Big Apple.

“It’s actually weird. I don’t feel like I belong here (in Decatur),” Hogue said. “When I’m down here, I stay on Tumblr and stalk models.”

Aside from school and traveling for her career, Hogue works out two to three times a week, spends time with friends on weekends and is an intern at Epic Church on Sundays.

Hogue will celebrate her sweet 16 in September - the official age to be a model in New York. Eventually, she wants to move to the Empire State and sign with a modeling agency.

“If she moves to New York, I definitely know she would go far because she has already. I would love to see that,” said Mitchell, an Austin High School freshman.

Hogue is saving the money she makes from modeling to go to college in New York for fashion and psychology.

“Editorial modeling is what I’m passionate about. I would love to get a campaign - Versace would be a dream,” Hogue said.

Once Hogue retires from modeling, she wants to work as a recruiter for an agency and help other Southern girls’ modeling dreams come true. With the heart of the industry being in New York, she said living in Alabama has been an issue since agents and magazines want models who are already in the city.

“I just can’t see myself being something normal like a doctor or teacher,” Hogue said. “I want to be a model.”

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Information from: The Decatur Daily, http://www.decaturdaily.com/decaturdaily/index.shtml

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