Biography of Lynda Erkiletian
Lynda Erkiletian’s passion and joy in life stems from her family, friends, fashion, and philanthropy. The nurturing mother of four children, ages 19 to 29, has been devoted to the growth of the D.C. fashion industry as founder and owner of T·H·E Artist Agency for over 27 years. Her eye for talent, savvy sense of style and no nonsense attitude has helped her achieve success in a city not often associated with fashion and beauty. Lynda says, “By far my greatest accomplishment is surrounding myself with the love and support of my beautiful family and friends.” She resides in the D.C. area with her children, chubby pug Ichiban, and feisty Siamese cat, Little Bon Bon. Ironically, after raising four kids while building a business and supporting numerous local and national charities, Lynda was cast as a "housewife" in the popular Bravo franchise series Real Housewives of DC. Although the show was not renewed for a second season, she is thankful to have had the opportunity to showcase her business and charities on national television.
Born into a military family with southern roots, the Air Force brat moved frequently throughout her childhood. By her senior year of high school, Lynda’s family landed in upstate New York, where she experienced the most challenging transition in her life. “Being raised mostly on military bases and moving to a civilian community with my deep southern drawl, it appeared as though I had arrived from another planet,” explains the southern belle. “School was difficult. From a very early age, I struggled with academics and it did not surprise me when I was diagnosed with dyslexia. Also, it explained my natural affinity for the arts.” Lynda enjoyed dabbling in music, theater, painting and photography, but her love for fashion began with her first retail job at Peoples Place working for Tommy Hilfiger.
Yearning for more opportunities in the arts, Lynda followed her sweetheart to Washington, D.C. where she began her journey of self-discovery. To support herself, she worked as a receptionist at a Georgetown hair salon while continuing to pursue her dreams. At age 18, she auditioned as a backup singer for Candi Staton, and two weeks later found herself on the road with the R & B Gospel songstress who at the time had the #1 Billboard disco hit, “Young Hearts Run Free.” “I was living a dream and experiencing things I never thought possible, including opening for Teddy Pendergrass. But, I experienced the difficulties of road-life and, being mentored by Candi for six months, I saw the many sacrifices women with families have to make in the industry. I knew in my heart that this wasn’t for me.” Lynda explains. Exposed to the creative behind-the-scenes professions on tour, Lynda now had budding experience in hair, makeup and wardrobe styling. She decided to pursue hair and makeup artistry and within two years had obtained her cosmetology license. Lynda quickly established herself as a freelance hair and makeup artist for print, TV, and film shoots, whose many notable clients included first lady Nancy Reagan, Sugar Ray Leonard, Lloyd Bridges, and Patty Duke.
T·H·E Artist Agency
In 1985, discouraged by the lack of industry standards, Lynda founded T·H·E Artist Agency to represent and develop the careers of D.C. area models and stylists. From the fashion runways to commercial and editorial print layouts, T·H·E Artist Agency provides a diverse array of talent: models, set designers, location scouts, as well as hair, wardrobe, and food stylists. Today, the Georgetown-based agency represents over 500 models and stylists who work with clients from all over the globe including Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Chanel, Vanity Fair, Elle and O Magazine, to name a few. [More]
James & Paula Coburn Foundation
In 2004, when Lynda lost her best friend Paula Coburn to cancer, she became the Executive Director of the James and Paula Coburn Foundation (JPCF), a private foundation that supports charitable organizations devoted to the arts and sciences. The mission of the JPCF is to sustain and develop the Coburns’ legacy, as bequeathed to the LA Philharmonic, the LA County Museum of Art, the Clairbourn School, KCET Community Television, the Motion Picture and Television Fund, Operation Smile, in addition to charities involved in the conduct of treatments or cures for cancer and the care of indigent cancer patients. The JPCF is committed to upholding the Coburns’ dedication to local and international advancement through music, art, education, as well as physical and spiritual health. The JPCF is organized as a 501(c)3 charitable trust and operates its main office in Los Angeles, California. [More]
Blessed with good health and fortune, Lynda strongly believes in giving back to the community. Both personally and through T·H·E, she supports a variety local, national, and international non-profit organizations. She presently serves as a member of the Washington Ballet’s Women’s Committee. She is a twenty year member of and formerly served on the board of Fashion Group International (FGI) of Greater Washington D.C. During her term as FGI’s Program Chair, Lynda created Beauty Within, an annual community outreach program now in its 10th year. Volunteers collect, assemble and distribute a personalized Mother’s Day gift bag filled with generously donated beauty products to hundreds of women residing in shelters throughout the DC metropolitan area.