Meet Tina Shih, renowned modeling teacher joining Asia Pacific Fashion Week

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THE special week celebrating APA fashion designers is currently recruiting models to participate

Contrary to popular belief, it’s not easy being a model.

Also contrary to popular belief, the beauty of a model is beyond skin-deep.

Tina Shih knows this. The former model, educator and pageant coach understands the importance of personal presentation; it’s more than just a walk, and it’s more than simply posing in front of a photographer.

For many people, the characteristics necessary for a modeling career —  etiquette, poise, charisma, and confidence — don’t come naturally. And these traits aren’t just requisites for a modeling career, but they are also necessities for pageant contestants, businesspeople and a wide variety of occupations that require a convincing, captivating personality.

With nearly 20 years of experience in modeling and social etiquette training, Shih is taking her talents to the exciting new Asia Pacific Fashion Week (APFW) being held next spring in Hollywood, Los Angeles. The APFW — scheduled for April 25 to May 3 — will feature some of the most prolific fashion designers of the global Asian and Pacific Islander community.

Open to models and designers with little to no professional experience, APFW is seeking to capture authenticity and individuality to showcase the diversity of the API community.

“You can look beautiful and have a great body, nice smile and great walk, but elegance and confidence come from within and your personality is what really makes an impact. If you don’t have either of those things, the physical traits mean nothing. You don’t just have to be beautiful. You have to be memorable,” Shih told the Asian Journal in a recent interview.

Born in Taiwan, where she had a successful career as a young model, Shih eventually went on to pursue teaching, receiving her master’s degree in education in Singapore.

Originally, Shih had her career sights on early education, specifically as a Sunday school teacher. In 1988, she immigrated to Los Angeles where she served as the director and principal of a private elementary school. Then, around 2008, she combined her loves of education and etiquette to establish the award-winning Tina Modeling, House of Etiquette, which has become one of the top etiquette training institutions in both Southern California and in Asia.

Located in San Gabriel and the City of Industry, Tina Modeling graduates have gone on to win top prizes in beauty pageants and become professional models and successful businesswomen. Shih has taught women, men and children of all ages and has shared her deep expertise through choreographing dozens of fashion shows and pageants across California and Asia. In short, she is among the most well-versed in the world of pageantry.

Though Tina Modeling is open to everyone, Shih told the Asian Journal that a vast majority of her clients are Asian women of all occupational backgrounds seeking to gain confidence. Bridging the societal gaps between eastern and western gender norms, Shih says, is a core mission in her curricula.

“As Asian women, we’re taught to be soft and quiet and that we shouldn’t be too aggressive or forceful,” Shih explained. “It’s the same in Chinese culture, Filipino culture, Japanese culture, but I want them to know that they can be confident and be true to themselves.”

That being said, one thing that Shih values in her work is being able to bring out the individuality of every one of her clients, a core value being brought to APFW. Shih teaches students various principles of etiquette, but she never wants to erase their unique personality.

“When I would mentor models in China, I noticed that uniformity is really valued over there. All the models had the same hair, same makeup, and same look and they walked identical to each other. That’s not what I want to do with my models. I want you to be yourself because that’s how you’ll be most comfortable which, of course, will make you feel more confident,” Shih explains.

And that’s the philosophy that Shih plans to bring to the APFW, which is currently inviting aspiring models and fashion designers to apply.

“What we really want to do is to give exposure to new and up-and-coming talent. If modeling is something you’ve wanted to try, then this is a great opportunity to get experience and learn all about the industry,” Shih said.

For those interested in joining APFW, please visit for more information and to apply.

If you’re interested in learning more about Tina Modeling, House of Etiquette head to for information on the courses offered.

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