by LEE ANN SANDWEISS
Melanie Surian Pickett and Cheryl Nichoalds met 10 years ago when Pickett was shopping at Nichoalds’ store, Tivoli Fashions, in downtown Bloomington. The two women became fast friends, so when Nichoalds needed a model for a Bloom photo shoot back in 2017, she asked the willowy blonde if she’d consider participating. Pickett agreed, never imagining that the favor she was doing for her friend would lead to another career.
“It was just so much fun,” reflects Pickett, 57, a Bloomington native who attended Bloomington High School South, received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, and currently works in estate planning. “Cheryl selected some fantastic designs for me to wear. This past spring when she was going to have another shoot, I jumped at the chance to model for her.”
Pickett’s husband, Lyndell, thought the photos from the June/July 2019 Bloom shoot, which featured fashions for post-college-age women, were so good that he encouraged her to send them to some modeling agencies.
“He wanted me to have a fun part-time job, since most of my work is business-, legal-, and investment-related, and, more importantly, he knew I had a great time being with Cheryl, her sister, and her friend in the photo shoot,” says Pickett, who resides in Louisville, Kentucky, where her husband is a judge for the Social Security Administration. She returns to Bloomington once or twice a month to visit her parents—and to see what new fashions are on the rack at Tivoli.
Pickett, who is 5-7 and had no previous modeling experience, uploaded photos from the 2019 Bloom shoot to the website of the Indianapolis-based Helen Wells Agency. She was soon contacted to attend a group interview, and then an individual interview. Shortly thereafter, she was contacted by Helen Wells’ talent scouts and invited to sign with the agency.
She is still reeling.
“I’m just at the beginning of this adventure—I haven’t done any commercials or catalog work for a client yet, but I’m very organized, disciplined, and able to multitask well,” Pickett says. “My goal is to win one role a month in 2020.”