Gentle in spirit, yet strong and fierce, Model Behaviors Founder Toni Munoz-Hunt radiates inspiration as an ideal "Akola Woman." Toni carries herself with utmost class and professionalism all while successfully leading her business, serving on the Akola board, acting as an incredible mother to her sweet Darlington and loyally supporting her husband, Dan. Toni's sense of fashion could take her from high tea to lunch with her girlfriends without missing a beat! If only we could borrow her closet...
Photography by Chelsea Q. WhiteDescribe your life's work:
My life's work is incomplete. Our parent's generation was more focused on working on weaknesses instead of strengthening strengths. This generation has strengths in so many things - people are redefining themselves and their boundaries - especially women. I am a mom, but not just a mom. I am a wife, a sister and a daughter. I have varied interests.
I started modeling when I was 16 years old. It was never wanted and never enjoyed. I didn't grow up "cool" and all of a sudden I was thrust into an environment that was all about my looks. I am a more "behind the scenes" girl and modeling brought me out of my shell. I am so thankful for it, because it helped me get through school. It took me a long time to finish because I was going back and forth - work took me all over the world - but I worked my butt off to finish.
Modeling allowed me to see the world and to see women in difficult environments. I started to get more involved in different cultures and learning about how I could be the most impactful for women. Exposure to culture brought me to Model Behaviors which is an accumulation from everything I have learned. Being able to help women and giving back has always been important to me. We are a group of women that are experts in different areas, very well-rounded and collaborating to make a difference. We sell events, productions and branding to different companies that share a vision for helping women in their communities.
Basically, I feel like my work just started. Everything I have done this far brought me to this point. I am learning that we can all come together. People don't have to have a lot of money, but talents. They have to know that they can take their talent and do something really special with it. We are about bettering women, through bettering ourselves.
Walk us through a day in your world:
Our days are different every single day! No two days are the same. In a regular week, I take two days to focus on my little girl, Darlington. On Mondays, she has her music class and then her swim class. Afterwards, we cook together for the week. Thursdays, she has her "play wisely" class. I work from home, so Darlington is always around, but I take those two days and make them extra special - Darlington gets a ton of extra attention. I devote Tuesday's to Model Behaviors and then on Wednesday's I have off. Typically, I have Model Behavior meetings and coach women through their business ideas or whatever they want to focus on the be their best self. I want to work with women to retrain their brain's to think positively. Friday's and the weekends, we are usually traveling for sports. It never stops!
I have to say that I am really blessed with amazing friends. I would not be able to accomplish half of the stuff that I do without them. They are honest, warm, supporting, always come from a good place and will hold me accountable. None of them are shy about telling me if I am wrong. I also have a very supportive family. Growing up where we did was difficult, but my parents taught me how to do everything. We do construction and I work as the general contractor - I run all of it. Though we didn't have much, my parents taught me that if there is a will, there is a way. If I have one pet peeve, it is when someone tries to block me from achieving something. I always say don't tell me no, tell me how. I won't take your no answer anyways, so I would rather you be a part of what I am doing instead of me knocking you over to get what I want. Don't ever take no for an answer. Someone is doing it, why can't it be you?
Motherhood! You can never be prepared for it. I am a person who naturally wants to be prepared for everything. I have come to learn that I will not be prepared for every single aspect of motherhood. From birth to being sick to when they talk back, everything is a surprise. The most surprising thing is that I have been selfish for a long time. It was only me, by myself, but now there is this little person that can't take care of herself. She needs me. I have to be a lot more self-aware, care more about the people around me and how I spend my time. Time is so precious and I would rather spend it with Darlington.
The realization that women don't want to be told what to do hit me like a ton of bricks. We want something that walks us through things at the same time, at the same level. Women don't want to be spoken to or at, but rather with. It's insight for me, but it;s like, Duh! of course! That's how I would want to be talked to or collaborate. Because of this realization, at Model Behaviors, the client is the expert. In reality, our clients know what they want but they just have to walk through everything to figure out how to get there. It takes us trusting in that person, working together with them and approaching as a collaborator rather than an expert.
Friends always tell me "Toni, you are so humble!" I definitely think that humility is important because we are all people. I always try to come back to that. Recently, I lost a close girlfriends and I think going through that process was powerful. At the end of her life, life in general, what is most important is that we are all people. Integrity is important, too. I always try and do the right thing. If I do the wrong thing, I have a lot of people who don't mind telling me. Lastly, I never give up. I don't care how long it takes, as long as I get there.
I guess I want to spend myself with purpose. I think that is the most important thing. I ask myself "Do I really want to do this? Does it really inspire me? Is this something that I would be proud of in the end?" A big part of growing Model Behaviors is picking who we want to collaborate with. I don't want to work for the money, I want to work for the cause. Often, we choose to work with non-profits who don't have much to offer, but we all have the same heart, the same mission. I want to spend myself purposefully.
Go onto strengths finder and figure out your top 3 strengths. A lot of times, women are focused on their weaknesses. I think it is important to figure out how you became who you are. Know your weaknesses, but strategically learn how to apply your strengths. We usually walk through women's past, find a timelines and figure out different aspects that shape them into who they are. When you have an understanding of why you are the way that you are because of history, you are able to design your life and apply your strengths to your new design.
I have different styles. Sometimes I am rock & roll, sometimes I am lace. I am comfortable in a little bit of rock and roll and a little bit of lace - it shows my personality! I am soft, but I have a little edge. I feel powerful when I can play both parts!
Anything bad for me! I am really healthy otherwise, but get me into Starbucks and I want to know which drink tastes like a milkshake and that's the one I want.
Joy in togetherness!
Now that we have started our own new family, we are making our own family traditions. Last year we started the Christmas pajamas and seeing a Christmas movie. It really Depends on where we are. If we are in New Mexico with my family, we always have tamales. We feed everybody and their brother. We also love Luminatos - they cover the whole town and are one of the most beautiful sights! In Aspen, we are figuring out what to do to make it special. We have done sledding and snowhikes with the dogs. We also love going to get Hot Chocolate at The Little Nell - It is the very best!
Togetherness! We are always giving to everybody else and doing everything else. Our life is whacky. We really live for these times when it is just us. We take in every little moment!
Photography by Chelsea Q. White