Supermodel Karolina Kurkova made a name for herself in the modeling industry as one of the youngest models to ever appear on the cover of Vogue.
She was only 16 years old and fairly new to the industry, and from there she became a worldwide phenomenon, appearing on the covers of every major fashion magazine, walking the runway for brands including Chanel, Michael Kors, and Helmut Lang, plus stealing the spotlight as a Victoria Secret Angel chosen to wear the $15 million Fantasy Bra in their fashion show.
But only two years before her groundbreaking Vogue cover, the idea of modeling wasn't even on her radar.
Despite her teenage insecurities, Kurkova, who grew up in a small town in the Czech Republic, agreed to pose for a friend who was practicing photography.
"Without telling me," Kurkova recalled, "she sent it to an agency in Prague."
Shortly after, Kurkova got a call from a modeling agency in Prague asking her to meet.
"First," she added, "my friend didn't tell me that she's going to send it to an agency, so I wanted to kill her. Second, I'm thinking, Well, me and as a model? I mean they must be crazy. There's no way I could be a model."
Despite her doubts, the then-14 year old Kurkova talked it over with her parents and they decided to drive an hour-and-a-half to Prague and meet the modeling agency representatives. Seeing her potential, they encouraged her to build up a portfolio, and Kurkova, who once hated taking pictures, said "something clicked" when she started working with professional photographers.
"It was like, I've done this before. It was the strangest thing -- like I knew what to do. I understood the light and I kind of felt comfortable," she said.
It wasn’t long before she started to book runway shows, and at only 15 years old she was often the youngest on the catwalk. She scored her first major gig outside of the Czech Republic when a casting director from London spotted her and introduced her to Prada.
After signing an exclusive contract with Prada/Miu Miu that took her to Milan, her career started to take off. That’s when she found herself in New York for Fashion Week at 16 years old -- a trip during which she met with the editors and casting directors of Vogue and had a meeting with Editor in Chief Anna Wintour.
"She was not scary," she said of meeting Wintour. "I feel like then she took me under her wing. I spent a lot of time in her home in New York with her own children ... we were kind of the same age. ... I kind of became a friend of the family, and she was very supportive, and then I went to meet Steven Meisel at age 16 and then that was it."
After that meeting, Kurkova would go on to become one of the youngest models ever to appear on the cover of American Vogue.
"I'm not American, I didn't have a movie coming out, I was not dating a rock star," Kurkova recalled. "I don't know even know how it happened, and why, but you know I'm so grateful."
That momentum led her to land the covers of French, German, Spanish, Australian, British and Brazilian Vogue, and within the first few years of her career Kurkova was on more than 50 covers.
Most recently, she appears on the inaugural issue of Vogue Czechoslovakia.
While she continues to have success in the modeling industry, she is also starting to make her mark as an entrepreneur, co-founding Gryph and IvyRose, a lifestyle and wellness line for children. She teamed up with pediatricians and holistic healthcare providers, all parents, to create a brand that she said "was more alternative holistic but very performance driven."
The mother of two was inspired by her childhood, growing up in the countryside of the Czech Republic and often using natural remedies created by her grandmother.
"We want empowered children to make better choices -- and to be more holistic and healthy, and expose them to more alternative practices like the way I grew up," she said.
Hear more from Karolina Kurkova on “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis”.