My name is David Tibolla, and as a professional makeup artist and an independent contractor, I am proud to step up in support of the the Model Alliance and their partnership with the Freelancers Union to help pass the Freelancer Payment Protection Act.
I have been working in the fashion industry for sixteen years, and like many of my colleagues, have had my fair share of issues regarding payment and lack of support and protection. I truly hope that with enough support, this bill will be passed and provide all of us with recourse under the law.
As independent contractors, we are all at the mercy of our clients and agencies to be paid. And, in most cases, we are also responsible for covering the costs of goods purchased for business and promotion, as well as agency expenses (messengers, web site fees and commissions). While these expenses are standard, the problem lies in the area of payment.
My aim here is not to point fingers, but simply to bring awareness to some of the issues that we all face as independent contractors.
In my years in the industry, I have worked with hundreds of clients and have been represented by a few different agencies. In my experience, most clients do pay within the standard Net 90 payment model. (Just to clarify, Net 90 refers to the time allotted from the date the actual invoice is sent to the client, the processing time and, ultimately, the time frame of 90 days wherein payment is due in full without accruing interest for late payment.) Some clients pay within 30 days (Net 30), some within 60 days (Net 60), but generally speaking most pay within 90 days. However, there are occasionally clients that take longer, and a few who, for me, have not ever paid. They've caused me a loss of at least $10,000 over the years. Now that number may not seem like a lot over 16 years but the numbers add up very quickly. If a client takes longer than the standard Net 90 to pay, that can very easily cause financial turmoil for many of us. If a client or the agency doesn't pay for work we've performed, not only do we take the loss, but it can cause a financial crisis for some. And again, add on top the cost of goods purchased, expenses, and commissions that might have been already paid as a result of that contracted work that went unpaid, and the numbers can become staggering.
We need to demand the same standards, rights and protection under the law that everyone else in the "traditional" work force is entitled to.
I have experienced both sides of the coin; from seemingly being financially secure, to being completely destitute at the hands of someone else — and back again. I also know several people who have been through financial disaster due to loss of income from clients or agencies not paying.
I don't think I'm alone in recognizing, especially in the current economic climate, that this business model is archaic and unfair to those of us who are independent contractors. We need to demand the same standards, rights and protection under the law that everyone else in the "traditional" work force is entitled to; from protection against harassment and discrimination, to timely payment for services rendered, legal support and recourse. It's time for a change.
Please join this campaign and help get the Freelancer Payment Protection Act passed in the Senate so that we can all be protected. We all deserve it.
This post is part of a series highlighting the difficulties fashion industry freelancers, including makeup artists, can have with getting paid for their work. The Model Alliance supports the Freelancer Payment Protection Act, which would help protect freelancers from deadbeat clients and from wage theft. For more information about this series, the FPPA, and how to get involved, read Model Alliance founder Sara Ziff's introduction.