MICHAEL ZARTMAN: “It’s important to tap into the joy of what you do.”
By KELLY VRAJITORU Journalist/Freelance Writer
Profile: Michael Zartman/David Edwards Clothier male model
After a diverse professional career as a restauranteur, event planner, model and beyond, it’s obvious the Chicago “born and raised” man Michael Zartman has been following his passion his whole life. In this interview he discusses how he got discovered, how he came to work with David Edwards Clothier and some fun facts we didn’t know. Here are some thought-provoking questions with Michael-the essential David Edwards Man behind the clothes.
First off, tell us how you were discovered and how your modeling career started?
I was approached while a junior in high school. One of my classmates had a mother who was an agent and I signed on as a teenager. I then moved to Boston for college and did catalogue work before moving to London for a while.
How did you come to know and work for David Edwards CC?
I guess you could say Edwards rediscovered me later in life. When Edwards asked me to be the face of David Edwards CC, it was a great opportunity to get back in front of the camera and tap into the joy I found in modeling again. We met a long time ago, in the 1990’s, at the second restaurant I owned, The Lucky Platter, in the Gold Coast, and became friends. I was also working in development as the event director for Chicago House, and Edwards volunteered there. We have lots of mutual interests, we were tennis rivals and travel companions over the years.
Do you feel it’s important to believe in the product you’re representing? Does it make your job as a model easier when you believe in the clothes or image you’re selling?
Without a doubt, it makes such a difference to have a relationship with the people behind a product. David Edwards CC clothes are bold and innovative, but also very comfortable. I hope to portray a natural warmth and charisma in the photographs. It’s important to recognize the real people representing the clothes.
Where has life taken you?
I’ve travelled the world. I lived in London for four years after college, which is where I came out. London really provided me the opportunity to embrace myself in a way I wasn’t allowing myself to do. Younger generations today have so many more resources available. I came back to Chicago, got into the catering business and opened my first restaurant, Park Place Cafe in 1992. It was the first full service restaurant within the Chicago Park District. That was one of the most joyful times in my life. It really was a community gathering place. Then I opened Lucky Platter in the Gold Coast, then moved to San Francisco for a time before coming back to Chicago.
What causes are you passionate about?
I got involved with non-profit fundraising, first with AIDS Care, then with Chicago House, which empowers people living with HIV/AIDS to lead healthy and dignified lives. Through fundraising and event management, I always enjoyed telling the story of the mission. It is rewarding to reach a new base of folks and bring more support to the work.
Give us some fun facts about you people may not know.
I once escorted Grace Jones to center court at Wimbledon. I’ve gone diving with great white sharks in South Africa and I love animals. I volunteer my time at Chicago canine shelters. I just love animals and the trust they give so freely.
What gets you out of bed in the morning?
It all comes from a place of gratitude. It depends on the day....my partner, my pups, being connected and being of service to the people in my life.