How supermodel Doutzen Kroes found satisfaction away from her day job

Doutzen Kroes walks the runway during the "Le Defile L'Oreal Paris" Show as part of Paris Fashion Week on September 28, 2019 in Paris, France.
Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images

Supermodel Doutzen Kroes has graced the covers of Vogue, Glamour and Harper's Bazaar, as well as representing some of the world's biggest fashion and beauty brands. However, she told CNBC Make It that it's her conservation work with elephants that has given her the most satisfaction.

She said that starting the social media-led fundraising campaign #KnotOnMyPlanet in 2016 had given her "more of a purpose."

"(It feels like) much harder work but (more) fulfilling than my job as a model because I always just considered myself lucky the way I was born," she said on Wednesday in an interview at the One Young World 2019 summit in London.

"I just bring myself and that's it, with the right work ethics, of course, but I don't bring anything more to the table than an image," she added.

But she said that #KnotOnMyPlanet had given her a reason for what she was doing, in enabling her to use her platform and reach as a model to connect the fashion contacts she had made throughout her career with a cause she is passionate about.

The initiative aims to raise money for the Elephant Crisis Fund, with 100% of donations going toward 120 programs in 26 African countries to fight poaching, ivory trafficking and raise awareness about elephant slaughter.

As global ambassador for the campaign, with 6 million followers on social media, Kroes has helped raise nearly $10 million in three years.

Fashion friends such as models Miranda Kerr and Cindy Crawford have all taken to social media to pledge support, tying knots as the traditional symbol for remembrance and using the saying "elephants never forget."

The campaign even enlisted the help of luxury jewelry brand Tiffany & Co. which launched its "Save the Wild" collection with proceeds going toward the initiative.

"I think a lot of people want to buy these luxury items and give back at the same time," said Kroes. "So it was a win-win situation for the brands."

"We're the link I think that was missing from the people on the ground," she added.

'Be true to yourself'

Reflecting on her career, Kroes said she would advise any young person starting out in their job to "be true to yourself," "surround yourself with the right people" and find a passion.

"I think in schools we're being taught the way we should be and not taught to find out what we want," she commented. "That's why I think it's very difficult for teenagers to decide what they want to be in life, who they want to become."

Kroes said she was brought up to have discipline, adding that "my parents taught me when I start something I should finish it."