Masuk alum flourishing in the fashion industry


Britney Spears, Kim Kardashian, Naomi Campbell, and Mariah Carey are among the icons to grace the covers of Shape Magazine. Now Alyssa Klein, 20, of Monroe can be added to that notable list. The Masuk High School alum has been pursuing a career in modeling and photography since she was a child.

“Shape was one of the magazines I would grab off the shelf in drugstores as a child, and I would read it walking through the aisles with my mom,” Klein said in a recent interview. “When I got the mood board, I was even more excited — fun outfits and a trampoline. Jumping up and down all day wearing cute clothes was not a bad gig at all.”

Klein, who is a sophomore at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, modeled activewear for State Management in the article, published on August 29, 2023. She was paired with another model.

She is majoring in communications and signed with State Management last year. Since then, she said the agency booked “many great jobs” for her and connected Klein with “many amazing people and brands.” Her profile is on its website.

“The process of applying to agencies can be really discouraging, because there is so much rejection, but I knew what I wanted,” she said. “I have always been very career-driven. At 16, I got into contact with my now-agency. They wanted to have a Zoom meeting with me, although I never ended up hearing back from them. Two years later, and two weeks after moving to NYC, I got an email on the same email thread from them. A few days later I went into the agency and they told me they wanted to sign me on the spot.”

Klein continues to overcome obstacles from a chronic illness she was born with, which led to a heart condition and a few other diagnoses doctors are still finding ways to treat.

“I was in and out of the hospital my whole life, and it was often pretty confusing to people because a lot of it was invisible from the outside, so it was difficult for them to understand,” she said. “Unfortunately, it forced me to leave sports and I missed a lot of school.”

“I have always been motivated and a hard worker, and eventually it became easier for me to mask the pain I was constantly in,” Klein said. “People saw that side of me, and they had no idea what I was really feeling inside. When I did express how I felt, I was often shunned.”

In high school, Klein said one of her main symptoms was a dull pain throughout her entire body that was constant for all four years.

Klein said she worried about never being able to follow her dreams until an experimental treatment finally worked.

“Now, I am fully taking advantage of my healthy body by taking all the opportunities that come my way,” she said. “Of course, some days are not as good as others, but I finally feel free after being trapped for so long.”

Klein said she had a passion for the arts since she can remember.

“As a child, I was always working on new projects ranging from singing, dancing, makeup, theater, drawing, painting, sewing, etc.— the list goes on,” she said. “I have always been drawn to cameras, quite honestly since I was born. I loved being behind and in front of them.”

Klein’s mother, Stephanie, was her earliest influence.

“My mom has always documented our lives with cameras,” Klein recalled. “I was always trying to steal hers, and when I couldn’t steal hers, I would take my aunt’s, or whoever’s I could get my hands on. Looking back on childhood photos, it is funny to see them now, because in quite many of them I had a camera in my hands.”

While pursuing her interests, Klein enjoys the strong support of her mother and her two brothers, Rob and Andrew. Both are currently enrolled at Masuk, Rob as a senior and Andrew as a freshman.

“They are really proud of me,” Klein said of her family. “We did not have any connections to the industry, and everything I did and learned was on my own. They knew how badly I wanted it — and I am doing it.”

Klein’s career is a constant surprise for her family members as she shares stories of a campaign she’s shooting, where she’s traveling to and for what job.

“My mom never is really shocked anymore, but she enjoys seeing my projects roll out,” Klein said. “Honestly, I think my brothers are a bit confused by what I am doing sometimes, and they truly never know what is coming next. But I know they’re happy for me and enjoy hearing my stories.”

A passion for photography

When she was in middle school, Klein said she organized fashion shoots with her friends for fun.

“Sometimes I would even get made fun of, because I enjoyed sharing them online,” she said. “People did not understand why I was taking social media so seriously, but it was just an outlet for my work.”

By high school, Klein’s mother bought a Canon Rebel for both of them to share.

“I made an Instagram account specifically for my photography,” she said. “Soon after, I connected with Monroe makeup artist, Alyssa Kostenko, of Elite Cosmetics. We ended up working well together, and we worked together consistently for about two-and-a-half years, until I moved to New York City.”

Klein helped Kostenko to creatively direct and shoot her promotional materials.

“From this experience, I realized that photography could be more than just a hobby, which is why I decided to start my own business,” Klein said. “By the time I turned 17, I had already photographed upwards of 50 Monroe families, town events like the Monroe Fire Department’s events, weddings, notable influencers, etc.”

Some of her work has appeared on The Monroe Sun.

Klein said she enjoys preserving memories for others through photography.

“It is so beautiful knowing that my photos may be passed down through generations, potentially living longer than I do,” she said. “People can relive experiences through them. It makes me so happy. For example, when mothers get their photos of their kids back and can cherish them forever. It is also a great feeling to make others feel beautiful through my photo work.”

A creative outlet

Growing up with a constant illness pushed Klein toward modeling and photography — two low impact activities in comparison to sports and other interests. She said she sees photography as a creative outlet.

“Coming up with weird concepts and executing/telling a story through them is a favorite hobby of mine,” Klein said. “For the most part, everything I have learned about photography was through my own experimentation and research.”

“However, I was lucky enough to attend the Regional Center for the Arts for a short amount of time, and I truly loved my teachers, Mr. Andy Pohlen and Mr. Tommy Rosati, there,” she said. “They had so much knowledge and insight to share with me in that short amount of time, and it was very helpful.”

Klein said she always wanted to be in the entertainment industry in some capacity and, though her family was hesitant at first, Klein continued to push for it when she got older.

“I think my mom saw how much I wanted it over the years, so she started helping me find small jobs through Facebook,” Klein recalled. “She was always super supportive of my dreams, but wanted to make sure we went about them in the right way.”

“I would describe it as chaos, but in the best possible way. Your adrenaline is pumping, and you do not have the time to think, you just do.” — Alyssa Klein on performing in fashion shows

When she was in sixth grade, Klein’s mother helped her do a small fashion show at Macy’s and Klein shot photos for Strong Magazine, which is published in Westport.

“I loved those experiences so much and wanted to continue, and in high school I began connecting with photographers, makeup artists, and businesses all throughout Connecticut and surrounding states,” she said. “Working with them and making those connections helped me build my portfolio, while I began applying to agencies.”

‘A fashion girl’

While in New York, Klein became part of a campaign for Kylie Jenner’s international Kylie Cosmetics foundation. She is a campaign lead, meaning she is a main model.

“This was super exciting news to me, as I have always been a makeup lover and fan of Kylie Cosmetics,” Klein said. “Also, hundreds of models went to the casting for this job. For Kylie’s foundation campaign, you can find me on her and their social media, on the Kylie Cosmetics site, on their emails, on sites like Macy’s, Nordstrom, and other large global retailers, and more. There’s some more exciting stuff that is rolling out soon as well!”

Klein became involved in a YouTube event called Brandcast, during which Jenner’s models shared the stage for a fashion show with Doja Cat.

“We were not given a ton of details before arriving to the fitting and rehearsal,” she said. “At fashion shows, the whole event is set up, rehearsed, and put on in such a short span of time. It was such a whirlwind. I would describe it as chaos, but in the best possible way. Your adrenaline is pumping, and you do not have the time to think, you just do.”

“They threw a huge afterparty in the center of Lincoln Center after and I was able to connect with so many amazing people,” she said. “I have heard so many great stories and made wonderful friends through doing jobs like these.”

Klein said her background in both photography and modeling gives her an advantage of understanding how things operate on both sides of the camera.

“Originally, I was going to get my degree in photography, but I decided against that because I get to learn so much being on set as a model,” she said.

Klein said working for major brands in the fashion industry has been a surreal experience.

“I have always been a fashion girl,” she exclaimed. “My mom got me into it, as we used to style outfits together for preschool. My staple was a bow. You would never catch me without one. My mom used to make them for me. I even used to carry around a notebook where I designed fashion and makeup looks.”

“My dream was to create all the looks on my friends and have a fashion show in my backyard, but unfortunately this never happened,” Klein said with a laugh. “This passion stuck with me as I got older. I always loved being bold and maybe even a bit avant-garde. My style definitely was not the norm for a smaller town. I never really cared what anyone thought about it. I have always been unapologetically me.”

Enjoying the ride

Life moves fast in Manhattan, so Klein said she hasn’t had much time to reflect on all she’s accomplished so far.

“Everything really seemed to hit me when Kylie’s campaign came out and she and Kris Jenner posted me on their Instagrams,” she said. “I woke up and saw myself on my timeline, and I ran out of bed screaming. That was my first reaction like that.”

A growing number of interests have pulled Klein in so many directions, she said she is unsure of exactly what she wants to do after school.

“Marketing has played such a huge role in my career up until now. I feel like it has always come to me pretty naturally, hence why I landed on the major,” she said. “I want to keep modeling and doing photography, but I also think it would be great to have a marketing job where I can combine my love of creating and marketing, maybe even entertainment, fashion and the arts.”

“I am into PR as well,” she added. “I am the director of PR at FIT’s Blush Magazine. Ultimately, I am seeing where life takes me and enjoying the ride.”

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