interview by JANA LETONJA

German model, creator and personal fitness and nutrition coach Stefan Pollmann has been in the fashion industry for the past 13 years. While traveling the world and working with renowned fashion brands like Hugo Boss, GAP, Strellson and Joop, he is also passionate about learning about philosophy, meditation as well as training and nutrition science. 

How did you start a career as a model?
My cousin got scouted in Hamburg by my first mother agency Modelwerk and then my aunt suggested I should try my luck as well. At first I couldn’t see the point, but a few weeks later, when I was bored one afternoon, I looked at the website and applied with some photos my mom took of me in our garden. I think they looked horrible, but a few hours after I applied, I got a call and it was the agency and they wanted to meet me. When we met, they offered me a contract right away.

3 months later I was on a plane to my first fashion week in Paris with my agency Success Models. When I arrived they were predicting me to walk many shows, but in the end I only booked one. Then Calvin Klein flew me into Milan as a direct for their show. I got 2 different looks and had to walk up and down a few times, but no one really talked to me. I saw they put the Polaroid with my look on a bird and then I got sent to the hotel. I was expecting to walk the show the next day, but at 1 am, my agent from Paris told me that they kicked my look out of the show. 

Back in Paris, my agent booked my first job for a Tommy Hilfiger lookbook in Amsterdam. I got a few thousand Euros for that and then understood this could be a career. Before leaving back to Germany, my agent also booked me an editorial for Candy Magazine with a great team around Mariano Vivanco, where I was dressed as a Geisha. 


Fashion and modeling is a fast changing industry, where anything can happen. How do you look at your career and its future?
That’s indeed true. I‘m beyond grateful for all the opportunities I got over the past 13 years and making a living out of this. Since I started, fashion has changed a lot and it’s becoming a lot more diverse in the last couple of years especially, which I think is a great step. At the same time, I could feel it becomes more difficult for a more classic look like mine. 

Looking back, the decision to not take the contract as a soccer coach for a dissabled home team and try as a full time model for one year was the best decision in my life by far. I had the opportunity to live and work in Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London and Sydney. Especially before getting my first daughter, I was spending most of my time in New York. I think you learn a lot getting to know different cultures and ways of living. Especially living in Japan was a total culture shock for me.

I think nowadays as a model, you have to accept a certain level of uncertainty as well as flexibility. Now as a dad, I feel like I have more responsibility, so I tried to build more income streams on the side and also accept I can’t travel as much anymore. 

tank top FRNKNOW
leather jacket TIGHA

What is your absolute favorite thing about modeling?
Definitely the possibility to travel around the globe. Also, I met a lot of super interesting and creative people throughout the years, which I‘m super grateful for. For example, one of my best friends, Dejan Poletan, I met trough my agency in Hamburg. He studied fashion in London and he let me crash on his couch when I was needing an accomodation for a few days. Since then, we started living together for a few months of the year in Los Angeles, New York and Sydney, together with our friend Neal, that I met in a models apartment in Los Angeles. 

Another great point is that due to being able to look into different lifestyles and meeting people that have a life that is very different to anything that I would have imagined growing up in my village, opens up your perspective about how to make a living. Especially New York is a melting pot of interesting driven personalities. It happened to me a few times that someone like Leonardo DiCaprio was just sitting next to me at my favorite caffe in Soho, where I go to study, and nobody would come up to him. In Germany or Spain this would be impossible. 

What do you love the most about fashion? How does playing with different styles make you feel?
I only started really experimenting with fashion a bit more in the last couple of years. I think the way you dress can totally change how other people look at you. I started to dress a bit more classy just recently. But in general, I like to keep it simple with a touch of chic. Dress pants and white T-shirts and tank tops are my best friends. I love seeing people that take pride in dressing with love to detail and being courageous in the way they dress. 

In 2018, you became a father for the first time. How has fatherhood changed your priorities and perspective on your work?
As mentioned earlier, it was a big change. When we got a positive pregnancy test, I realized that from then on, I’ll be responsible for another human being. Before that, I was just looking at my own needs. I could take risks, knowing if I wouldn’t make any money for a while, I would be fine. I come from a simple background and in theory, I would have had no problem with just eating beans and tomato sauce. But I knew I wanted a great future for my daughter, so this gave me a big push and motivation, next to also some sleepless nights at the beginning. 

As also mentioned earlier, I build more reliable income streams on the side to not be only reliable on unsteady job demands. This gave me some security, but it’s also great to expand your skill set. 

tank top INDUSTRIE

Besides modeling, you also have your own podcast. Tell us more about it, its topics and what inspired you to start your own podcast?
During my travels, I was listening to a lot of different podcasts. One of my all time favorites is the Tim Ferriss show. I don’t really have any idols, but If would have to name any, it would be this guy. His humble approach to life and out of the box thinking inspired me a lot troughout the last 10 years. I can also recommend all of his books, especially the ‘4 hour work week’ and ‘4 hour body’. 

I love to share some of my experiences and thoughts on life and philosophy, but Instagram was not that great to share long form content, so I decided to start a podcast, mostly in German, with my friend. You can find it on Spotify, it’s titles ‘Auch ein guter Podcast’. 

The podcast also gave me the possibility to invite guests that are experts in their fields, to pick their brains on certain topics. For example, we had Wellness Members Club founder, Dr. Jonathan Leary, as a guest and German national goalkeeper, Kevin Trapp, to ask him how it is to play with Neymar and Ibrahimovic. 

We also discuss general life questions, like why do we always want more, how can we feel more content and happy, why can’t we sometimes follow things even though we know they are good for us. I love the stoic philosophical approach to life and find it astonishing how accurate some approaches are still today. To summarize the stoic approach pretty much, we should try to change the things that are in our control and accept the things that are not, and get the ability to differentiate these two. 

sunglasses SALT

You’re passionate about reading and learning about nutrition, training science and also stoic philosophy to answer the questions on the meaning of life. Why is this topic one that is so interesting to you, and what are the biggest things you’ve learned about it?
Regarding the meaning of life, I think Alan Watts puts it best. “The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves”.

I think we have to give life purpose and meaning ourselves. For me, it’s getting up every day to raise my girls, give them a good future and teach them the right values. I strongly believe that everything in the end is connected. And that is why I like to share things about health, nutrition, training or even things on how to become financially independent, that I learned from some of the greatest minds of all time. If I can make just a handful of people starting to invest in a diversified ETF savings plan to make them more financially free when they are old, I‘m already happy. Same goes for my coaching. 

I measure part of my success with the positive impact I have on other peoples’ lives and the impact they then have on other peoples’ lives. We live in a network.

skincare THE GREY

For a few years now, you’ve had your online coaching App. Can you describe the coaching process the users of your App get to experience?
I have two different models. In the Basic App, my clients get weekly changing meal plans and different workout programs, depending on their goals. The programs usually last for 4 – 5 weeks, ending in a peak week where we try to reach the maximum recoverable volume of muscles, which means it’s more volume that they can recover from. To achieve this, we might use different intensity  techniques at the end of the cycles, including drop sets and myo sets. After that, we do deload week where we decrease volume and intensity to give the muscles and passive structures time to adjust as passive structures usually adapt way slower than muscles. If you never built them, this can lead to overtraining and injuries. 

The clients can also choose how many days they want to work out and if from home or gym. Regarding the meal plans, they can choose ingridients they would like to avoid. I also offer vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, keto and pescatarian options. I personally recommend to avoid gluten as much as possible, and also to avoid milk products, except when they are fermented like yogurt, to keep inflammation low. They can also manage their favorites recipes. I also have the shopping list option to make it easier to get all ingredients at the supermarket. 

For women, I also have a period tracker in the App, to adapt the plan based on menstrual cycle as the performance and nutrition needs are slightly different. I try to make it as individual as possible, while keeping it pretty automated and not too expensive. 

For the Premium model, I add a more personal coaching where I coach the clients via WhatsApp directly and answer all questions that might come up along the way. Especially the video analysis of the excercises is an important part to make sure to prevent injuries and really reach the target muscles with the excercises, as well as getting the most out of your hour in the gym.

Obviously, for most clients the main goal is to look better, but for me personally, I try to make them a healthier version of themselves. We also address sleep patterns, supplementation, energy level and overall inflammation and stress as these are all important pillars to a long and happier life. 

You also like the idea of investing. What are some of the investment ideas you find the most intriguing at the moment, and why?
There are so many things you can invest in these days. When I was about 21 and started to make some money, I started reading a lot of books about investing and didn’t stop ever since. I invest every month, no matter if low or high. I do this automated, so I don’t even need to think about it. 

ETFs build my core and then I have 10 – 20 % in my satellites, which are single stocks, to boost the performance a little bit, but at the same time increase the volatility a lot. I have about 5 % in Bitcoin and Ethereum as well since 2017, and also 5 – 10 % in P2P investments.

This biggest investment I think you can do is in yourself, as cliche as it might sound. Investing into books, seminars, travel, software, etc. My goal is to increase my human capital as much as possible, so basically how much you can potentially earn, as this predicts how much you can invest as well. I always want to stay humble and be a lifelong student. There is something to learn from everyone I think. 

t-shirt ALL SAINTS

tank top INDUSTRIE

We’ve heard you are interested about picking up acting classes again.What can you share with us about your upcoming goals and projects? 
One of my goals for this year is finally starting to speak Spanish fluently. For me, it’s important to connect to the people and culture, and it always made me sad that I could only have really shallow conversations in Spanish. 

As I used to take acting classes in Los Angeles and New York with Susan Batson, as well as working with a coach in Hamburg for years, I would love to pick this up again and see what I can do here. There is no specific goals, but it helped me a lot with my modeling career to just change into different characters while shooting. Also, this pushed me out of my comfort zone a lot. 

I think it’s always a good idea to do different things as they can add depth and value to your life. 



talent STEFAN POLLMANN at Kult Models
photography and styling EDWARD TRAN
interview JANA LETONJA