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EXCLUSIVE: Meet the Couple Responsible for the Careers of Ashton Kutcher, Karlie Kloss and More Midwest Stars

by Raphael Chestang 3:44 PM PDT, September 15, 2016
Playing EXCLUSIVE: Meet the Couple Responsible for the Careers of Ashton Kutcher, Karlie Kloss and More Midwest Stars

Fashion is usually associated with cities like New York and Paris, but many of your favorite models came from America's heartland, thanks to Jeff and Mary Clarke, the husband and wife behind Mother Model Management.

"Mary walked up to me and said, 'You need to do this,'" Iowa native Ashton Kutcher said in a 1997 interview. "So I entered a fresh faces contest."

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Kutcher and fellow Midwesterner Karlie Kloss are just two of the talented people the Clarkes discovered. Kutcher was still in college when Mary, who also hails from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, spotted the young man in a bar and put him on the path that would lead to his illustrious career.

"It is really powerful to see even him up on stage talking to everybody," Mary told ET at the Back Porch Festival last month. "You can't help but think it was 20 years ago and look at everything that has happened. It's pretty incredible."

According to Kutcher, the Clarkes' effect on his life didn't stop at launching his career. They were also there for him when times got tough.

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"I'll tell you a little story about what makes them unbelievable," Kutcher told ET. "I started doing really well right off the bat, and then I went to Chicago, and I was really struggling. I was on my last dime and to the point where I was like, 'I don't know if I can do this anymore.' I called them and they loaned me $300. And they got me back on my feet and got me back going."

The couple found Kloss at a local benefit fashion show and Vogue cover girl Grace Hartzel was just 14 when Mary approached her at a Cheesecake Factory in St. Louis.

Jeff and Mary scour the country for men and women with runway potential, but Mary explained why Iowa stands apart from anywhere else in the nation.

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"There is a genuine, heartfelt difference," Mary said, "and they are physically beautiful and people are really tall because of that corn. The secret is the corn!"

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