At the age of 19, Milwaukee-native John Economou made a life-changing decision: He would drop out of college, leave his home state, and finally pursue his dreams of fame and fortune.
Naturally, he headed straight to California, but it wasn’t exactly a smooth transition for Economou. The dude had no money, no connections, and no job. So he took shelter on Venice Beach with nothing more than a few possessions, like a toothbrush, a thin sheet, and his skateboard.
“I modeled my whole life locally in Milwaukee, then as I got older I knew that L.A. was the place to be and Milwaukee didn’t offer what I wanted,” he explained to the Daily Mail. “So I packed up a bag and moved to L.A. to live the hippie life, no rules, no nothing, just living free.”
Economou insists it’s a pretty sweet life, but it got even sweeter on a particular summer day earlier this year: After taking a swim in the ocean, he decided to relax on the beach, not too far from where models Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid had set up a picnic.
"I was just chilling on the beach and watching the water, minding my own business and then I see these people come over. They looked all presentable and good looking,” he told the Daily Mail. “Then I saw seagulls swarming around the girls because they brought the food out and I started walking over there to shoo them away.”
Once he caught Jenner and Hadid’s attention, they struck up a conversation that eventually led to the story of why he moved to L.A. with practically nothing. The models were there for a shoot, and were accompanied by Jenner’s modeling agent, Ashleah Gonzalez, who agreed to hook Economou up with Two Management—the same agency that launched Jenner’s modeling career years ago.
Talk about being at the right place at the right time.
Though Economou now has a contract with Two Management, he still chooses to live on the streets of Venice. But he doesn’t consider himself “homeless”; he prefers the term “traveller.”
“I like saying I’m on an adventure,” he told the Daily Mail. “My parents thought it was a little odd that I wanted to come and live the hippie lifestyle out here but they knew I’m super independent and super driven and motivated so they support me and believe in me. So I took that and worked my magic and made stuff happen.”