The Independent Talent Agent Who Launched a Thousand Friend Crushes

Photo: Erik Melvin

When she decided to start her all-female agency, Pool Represents, in 2015, Delphine Del Val had no idea just how relevant her idea would become. The Parisian-born, Sorbonne-schooled Lower East Sider had been working as a photographer’s agent at Walter Schupfer Management, where she represented Garance Doré among others, when she decided it was time to create a pool of her own.

“Garance and I started working together in 2010 when she was a street-style photographer,” Del Val remembers. “When she moved to New York the world changed — all of a sudden she was a photographer and then an illustrator and a brand, and social media opened new doors.” Working with Doré inspired Del Val, who sensed an opportunity to cultivate the up-and-coming breed of multi-hyphenates that might not make sense for a traditional agency setting.

Excited by the possibilities, Del Val presented a proposal to Schupfer, who became a partner in her endeavor. Today, her roster includes an impressive slate of powerful women you’d want to be friends with on both coasts. In addition to Doré, the eclectic group includes stylist/designer/creative director Brianna Lance, artist and furniture maker Ana Krâs, illustrator and stylist Camilla Engstrom, designer Jenni Kayne, and ModelFit co-founder Vanessa Packer; recently, she also signed EyeSwoon creator Athena Calderone. “The women I work with are women who would want to meet and collaborate with one another,” Del Val asserts.

Read on for more from our interview with Del Val, as she discusses favorite restaurants, feminism, French girl style, and beyond.

How did you pick the name “Pool”?
I wanted something positive and easy to pronounce in any language. I want us all to work together as a team, a pack, a roster — a pool.

The idea of collaboration between women seems especially relevant right now.
Yes — when I started, I didn’t think of it as anything feminist, but I was ready to start supporting other women. I had worked with all men for so long and I wanted to create an environment for women that’s about community, not competition, which I think is very different from when you work with male artists. The idea was to represent women who would influence others through talent and not necessarily through what they look like and how they dress.

All of your clients do also happen to be beautiful and stylish …They all have very different styles though, and that’s what makes them so interesting and captivating, rather than what brands they wear. Ana and Brianna mostly wear vintage, and they just carry themselves with such authenticity and personality.

How do you get connected with and select the women you work with?
A lot of them are friends or are recommended to me by friends. It’s not about having a blog or having a platform but having a vision and being creative and being different and spreading a super positive word. A couple of years ago, all the girls we saw everywhere were just pretty and skinny and coming from certain backgrounds and not necessarily who I thought should be influencing young women.

What’s the main difference between French and American style? The French refuse to show effort. We don’t want people to see if we’re wearing makeup; if we have a Chanel bag we want to make sure it doesn’t look too new. Americans tend to want to look perfect, with the best nails, the best makeup, eyelash extensions. I’m sure some of my girlfriends have them too, but they’re the minority.

You live on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. What are your favorite local spots?
I stay a lot below Broome; I go to Café Petisco and now the Metrograph has a great restaurant; Bacaro; and the new Japanese place, Gohan, just across from the Fat Radish is super delicious. Camille Becerra’s new restaurant De Maria opened on Kenmare and Bowery and I have to say I’ve been there like five times in over the last week it’s so good.

What’s your best advice for creative women just starting out in their careers?
Don’t think too much about what other people are doing. The one piece of advice my husband gave me that’s been the best so far is “Just run your own race.” We don’t all have the same goals so there’s no need to compare yourself. Most people are not saying the truth anyway.

How do you stay organized?
I’m not organized at all, I never have been. I work really organically. I scroll Instagram morning and night, read magazines for two hours each morning, and my husband and I Skype throughout the day when we read something of interest. He is an art-book publisher and is always sending news and interesting talents. I spend my life taking screen shots on my cell and sending to them to my assistant.

What’s on your reading list?

All the magazines — all the Condé Nast and Hearst titles; The Gentlewoman and WSJ are favorites. I get iPad editions of French Vogue and French Elle. Right now I’m reading an advance copy of Joan Juliet Buck’s new book, which everyone should read.

What’s on your desk?

A large BKR water bottle (it has to be black because my office is all black, including the floor), a bunch of notebooks from Holiday; chocolate, dark; and a bunch of paper because I’m not very organized. My pens are all space pens.

How do you unwind?

I try to go often to yoga: at least twice after work, then on the weekends. I’ve been told I need to meditate but I can’t. I read to empty my head but really I love to walk while listening to amazing podcasts. I love Bret Easton Ellis, I’m obsessed, my husband knows. I see him in restaurants in L.A. and I get starstruck. I also love Alec Baldwin’s Here’s the Thing; Million$, the Forbes female entrepreneur one; The Dinner Party Download, and The Moth — it’s just funny and sad and real, sometimes I laugh or cry for real behind my sunglasses.

Who’s your dream client?

I don’t know, because I’m not looking at being huge — I really just want it to be a tight group of exceptional women. But is there another Gwyneth Paltrow somewhere in the world? Another Jessica Alba?

Meet the Talent Agent Who Launched a Thousand Friend Crushes