Last year in September, Nicole Balingit went shopping at Rack Room Shoes for her children. She noticed a sign for a contest inside the store that called for family models.
Once she got home, she went online and uploaded a few photos of her family with their names, ages and shoe sizes. Last July, Nicole received a call saying her family had won the contest.
“When I got the call, I was extremely surprised,” Nicole said. “I wasn’t expecting to get picked, but I was very happy. The kids were excited. My husband was deployed at the time. He didn’t even know I entered it.”
The Balingit family was chosen among thousands of entrants to model for the national footwear company.
In September, the family was flown to North Carolina for an all-expenses-paid three-day photo shoot and was treated to a hotel and makeover.
“It was a good experience and a lot of fun,” Nicole said. “This gave me a perspective on what models do on a daily basis. It’s actually really hard work.”
Without previous experience, the family learned to pose and model for the retailer’s nationwide holiday advertising campaign.
Isaiah, Nicole’s husband and a United States Air Force technical sergeant, said he was in Afghanistan when his wife called him and told him the news.
“I’ve actually never heard of Rack Room Shoes before,” Isaiah said. “It turned out to be a really enjoyable experience with my family. It was really interesting to see how a photo shoot operates and comes together.”
The family members participated in a wardrobe fitting the day before participating in an eight-hour shoot for two days. They also got their hair and makeup done professionally.
The family of five, including Branden, 12, Jayden, 8, and Jilin, 3, now appears on the company’s website, newspaper ads and store signage in more than 385 stores throughout the United States.
“The kids were a little bit shy at first,” Nicole said. “But they eventually opened up, and the staff kept them entertained with movies and video games. They tried to make the experience as fun as possible.”
Since the photo shoot, the family has seen themselves on posters inside the stores and on the retailer’s website. Family and friends have also posted newspaper ads that feature the Balingits on their Facebook pages.
“We love the photos,” Nicole said. “We took the kids to the store to see them. All my family is in Texas, and they’ve all been going to the store just to see us.”
The retailer also sent the family a photo book documenting their modeling experience as a keepsake.
“It was good experience,” Jayden said. “It was fun having the family in front of the camera and modeling. I kind of want to be a model after this experience.”
Nicole said she recently went to Rack Rooms Shoes with her family and took photos next to the store’s poster. She said some people recognized her and her family from the posters.
Jan Mauldin, director of marketing for Rack Room Shoes, said the family was chosen from nearly 3,000 applications.
“The pictures the Balingit family submitted had a sincerity and joy about them that we knew would shine in the ads,” Mauldin said. “The Balingit family was wonderful to work with. Even though it was their first time modeling, they stepped up set like pros.”
This was the retailer’s ninth annual modeling competition. Each year, Rack Room Shoes looks for customers to become models for different campaigns that feature athletic, spring, summer, back to school, fall and holiday wear.
“I would recommend this contest to other families,” Isaiah said. “We went through this together as a family, and it was rewarding seeing the photos afterwards. This was really a once-in-a-lifetime thing.”
Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter Sandy Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-4686.