Journeying from modeling to entrepreneurship is a typical path for most models in this era. Terri Levine introduces us to Daisi Jo Pollard Sepulveda, a beauty queen who has emerged victorious in the areas of entertainment, fashion, beauty, and business by creating her own company called Daisi Media Corp. As an internationally known model, Daisi also started My Product Model, a company aiming to provide accessible high-quality photos and videos for eCommerce and digital brands for increased conversion and sales. In this episode, Daisi teaches us how we can market and position ourselves starting with being in social circles. She also inspires us with her story of resilience while she was battling meningitis and became the president of the Meningitis Foundation of America thereafter.
Listen to the podcast here:
From Modeling To Entrepreneurship: A Story Of Resilience With Daisi Jo Pollard Sepulveda
My guest is a bit unusual compared to some of the guests we’ve had. I’m excited to be with her. Her name is Daisi Jo Pollard Sepulveda. She is a veteran internationally known model. She’s been signed with some of the top modeling agencies like Ford, Wilhelmina, MMG. She is someone who’s known. She’s modeled for companies like Gap, 1-800-Flowers, Haynes, Ponds, Amazon and many other brands. You’re like, “Terri, why are you interviewing a model?” She’s also a beauty pageant queen. She holds multiple titles including Miss Jamaica International, Miss Jamaica Earth and Miss Israel USA. I’m talking to somebody famous and yet has a lot of tips for you.
She’s also served on the board of many nonprofits. She was the president and chairwoman of the Meningitis Foundation of America. In addition to all of that background, she’s a lifelong entrepreneur with a breadth of experience. She’s owned a martial arts gym, a limousine service, a bed and breakfast, modeling school and agency, to name a few of her businesses. Daisi started a company called My Product Model. The goal of this company is to provide accessible high-quality photos and videos for eCommerce and digital brands looking to increase sales and conversion. Daisi, welcome here to the show.
Thank you for having me.
The reason I wanted you on the show is I’ve never had someone who’s done all this famous modeling and then has this diverse entrepreneurial career like all these different businesses. First, take us down the path. What led you to modeling?
The first time I was introduced to modeling, I was a kid and my mom wanted to take us to a model search in the mall or something. There was a flyer cut-out on a newspaper our refrigerator and we never went. I remember being 9 or 10. I’m looking at that and not comprehending what that was, but thinking in my head, “Whatever that is, I want to do that.” I don’t know what it was about. I didn’t understand what it was, but I thought it was something very interesting. A couple of years later, I was living with my grandmother and my grandmother was very into cultivating different experiences. I went to a dance school and finishing school. That led me into modeling, and then it continued from there. By the time I was a teenager, I was 100% sure that that’s what I wanted to do and that I was going to pursue it. I started when I was about fifteen on. It became a career for me and it’s been that way ever since.
You’re doing the modeling and you’re into that. How do you get led into all these different entrepreneurial paths?
I’m a naturally curious person. I’ve always been that way. Both sides of my family have a long legacy of entrepreneurship, more specifically, my mom’s family. Generation over generation have been I don’t want to say like a Rockefeller level entrepreneurs, but it’s in that capacity. I feel like some of it is genetic. I’ve always been curious. When I was a teenager and I started modeling, I realized that modeling in itself is very entrepreneurial. You hear about the model and the agency. As a model, if there’s an agency that exists that’s in the picture or not, you have to do a lot of your own packaging. You have to do a lot of your own negotiations and you have to do a lot of advocacy for yourself, so a lot of sales in one form or another.Modeling is a business like anything else when you break it down that way. Click To Tweet
A lot of it is relationship building. It’s not like I show up and someone else does all the work and I stand in front of a backdrop and take pictures. There’s a lot of relationship-building involved, especially because this industry is one of two where it’s predominantly women. The other one being nursing. Women are the biggest breadwinner in the modeling industry, therefore you have to do a lot of advocating, protecting yourself, marketing and legal. You have to be a jack of all trades because you are the product. A lot of people don’t think about it that way, but as a model, you are not only involved in the supply chain fashion line for example. You’re the bridge between the supply chain and the marketing.
A lot of people only think of modeling as a faith consumer-facing, but it’s a lot more than that. You are also part of the supply chain process because without being a fit model, without having the runway shows, without being involved in the production of the advertising campaign, you’re not even going to get that product to a buyer. Even if that buyer is Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s or any department store. That’s the B2B side of it but there’s also the B2C, which is the consumer side of it, which is the marketing.
In essence, modeling is a business like anything else when you break it down that way. I had to learn how to market and package myself very young. I’m very interested in the process. For a model of a minority or that’s non-blonde hair and blue eyes, you have to be involved in the process or else you’re going to get looked over a lot. In that time, I took the reins and started doing it myself. I started marketing and promoting myself and I enjoyed the process. For me, it was never about the end goal of legitimizing my idea of being a model. It was more about I like this process, I like the work and I like the creative thinking that goes involved in it. Also, the analytical thinking because it’s not by chance that you get this job. A lot of it is thinking strategy, positioning, marketing. That’s pretty much how I got this far.
Let me recap a few main points for the audience. One of the key things, regardless of what business you’re in, is that every business has a relationship. Heartrepreneur itself stands for heart-to-heart connection in building relationships. The other piece that Daisi said to breathe in and take in as if you’re in a business where you’re the product, you’re a coach, consultant, model, speaker, trainer, author, therapist, counselor, advisor, or strategist. If you are the product, you have to step up to the plate. You have to market and position yourself. You build those relationships and that is selling you.
One other point for our readers, whether you’re a male or a female. In this world, it is not necessarily even in terms of how things turn whether it’s cultural, religion, sex, there are still prejudices and biases. Taking note of that and seeing how you need to grow and how you need to work with that in your industry. Let’s talk about all this diversification that’s happened. What led you down all these other paths?
I’ve always been naturally curious. After I was Miss Jamaica, in the beginning, I got a good sponsor. I built a lot of good relationships and I did a lot of marketing and promoting. I decided that I wanted to open up a modeling school/agency or management company. I was in California. Being in the pageant system, that’s a good platform to do that because I’m around a lot of girls that want more opportunities. At that time, you have a lot of press and exposure. You need to have a place for those eyeballs to go. I got a studio, started doing some marketing and advertising, and using the titles and the things that I was doing at that time. It snowballed off of each other.
I’ve always been a person that socializes and does business in different circles. I understood diversification very early. I’m an ‘80s baby and in the ‘80s, you’re taught you do one thing for 40 years and then you retire. I knew that wasn’t true. That wasn’t going to be real. That’s not how you’re going to make a long career for yourself, especially in modeling, I knew that way. The saying is that a lot of models are retired by the time they’re 24. When I was Miss Jamaica, I was 25. I was already past the deadline. I’m 40 and I still work. I understood that in order to expand and to find out what is unique about myself, I have to be able to create an intersection.
Normally you don’t hear about a lot of models doing other businesses until they get mega-famous like Cindy Crawford, and then it’s skincare, beauty, clothing or fashion. The thought of those and the practice of those has to start very early. It’s not like it just comes out of nowhere, especially if you want to have control over it. I’m a bit of a control person. I like to run my shop. I met a limo driver and he was my driver at the time. He was soft pitching me. He was like, “I’m thinking about buying this car because if I have my own car,” that got me thinking and I was like, “This is possible.” I’m meeting different people, some of them needing investment. Not meeting business people but having an asset that could be monetized.
How much can I get involved in this business and how can I help these people? That’s how I created this career and kept going and diversifying. It’s not only good financially. It’s good for people to learn where their career is going and where the next thing is coming from. You get a lot of insight into your career by looking at other industries. The best way to do that is to be alongside other people. I’m the kind of person where my friends are my circle. My social circle is not necessarily models or other models. It never has been. It’s always been different kinds of people from different fields. I’ve been able to borrow from them what they do or ideas that they have and apply them to myself. In the great age of advanced technology where there are automation and a lot of things you don’t have to manually do, it’s a lot easier to get involved in other things.
First of all, there’s an article that I read that talks about people who are even graduating from college and how many jobs they will probably have over their lifetime. It said a minimum of six and more, typically ten or more. I think that’s good news. In my father’s day, one career and that was it. I have been to many industries. I’ve been entrepreneurial and things that have nothing to do with each other like speech, pathology, art, coaching and being an author. They’re all over the place.
It’s a great way to live your life, having diversity and openness. You also said something that resonated. You’re listening, open and curious. The limo driver is talking and you’re not closed off to like, “This is interesting.” I want people to take that away is to be open and curious. The third thing is I’m a big fan of diversification. I’m a business consultant, I have a magazine, I have a TV show, I have a radio show, I have blogs, I’m also a public speaker. I speak all over the world. I’ve written 40 books. A lot of diversification, doing what you love, loving what you do, being of service, being of value and all of that.
One more thing, Daisi, is the way that you talked about being in social circles and not just being in your industry. If you’re a coach, consultant, speaker, trainer, I don’t care what you do, I always hear people like, “I’m going to this coaching conference.” They’re joining a coaching thing like a life coach. I’m like, “They’re coaches and the people that are clients that can help you.” They’re like, “No, but I am one of them.” I don’t care. Hang with people in other industries and I got that. Let me ask a question before we go deeper. What is the best way as people are getting interested and they’re like, “I want to know more about Daisi?” Where’s the best way for them to learn more, follow you, and get additional information?
I have a website, DaisiPollard.com and also social media. Instagram is now the social media of choice. My Instagram is @DaisiJo and Twitter, which is also @DaisiJo. If you’re lost at all of that, you can google me. I’m very google-able and all my contact information or all the platforms that I’m on, LinkedIn and Facebook, they’re all there. Any way or form of communication that you use regularly, you can find me.
I’ll say to every audience member, that’s what you want to do. You want to be easily found. I was talking to somebody and he said, “I need to write down your website again.” I said, “No, you don’t. You know my name, find me.” I’m curious because I’m on the board of several nonprofits. What led you down that road to be getting in with the Meningitis Foundation?Pageantry is very philanthropic because you have charitable projects as your platforms. Click To Tweet
Pageantry is very philanthropic. Part of your platform when you’re competing is that you have some charitable projects. We call it your platform. That is built into the core of pageantry. What is your platform? What organizations are you associated with? For the year of your reign, what are your projects? That part is in the ecosystem of pageantry. When I was Miss Jamaica International 2005, I was doing education in Jamaica, computer education and computer literacy.
In 2006, I got sick with meningitis and that was a game-changer for me. It’s a lot of recoveries and it took me a couple of years to figure out exactly what meningitis was because there wasn’t that much on Google at that time. Wikipedia had a short paragraph and it was very hard to find other survivors. There wasn’t support groups on Facebook or anything like that. It took me a lot of time to accept the fact that I had something that was traumatizing and I was so sick. Every time I tempted to look into it, I would get physically sick because I couldn’t face reality.
Around 2009, the Meningitis Foundation of America came online. About that time, they’ve built a website. I reached out to them, I was like, “I’m a survivor. This is the only site that I know exists. What do you guys do? How can I help?” I started doing fundraising projects for them. Fast forward a few years later, I met other organizations and they came online. I started networking and socializing in that community and doing a lot of fundraising. Around 2011, 2012, I joined the board of the Meningitis Foundation of America. I also did a project with the National Meningitis Organization. I did a big fundraising project for them where I collaborated with the designer. We created the statement fashion and it was a collage of stories and pictures of people that had been affected or touched by meningitis, a lot of people that had died from meningitis or loss of limb from meningitis.
It was a spectacular event and it was a gala to raise money for immunization shots. I was a part of a lot of lobbying legislation for immunization, requirements for college campuses and high school students. That’s still a long process. From my work, the Meningitis Foundation of America, after I joined the board, thought it would be a good idea to bring in a new president. Some smaller organizations or midsize organizations do something where they have a chairwoman and a president in one.
When you look at a mega nonprofit like the Cancer Society, they have a president, a chairperson and an executive director that runs the operations. For a while, I was doing all three hats for this organization, which is a very big job. That’s how I got involved with meningitis. I run a podcast called Meningitis News and it’s about meningitis, meningitis awareness, immunization and outbreaks around the world. I continue to do work in that space. There’s been a lot of progress with immunizations, especially in the bacterial meningitis space. I continue to offer support in different capacities to survivors and families of those that have died from meningitis.
I believe that part of the whole concept of Heartrepreneur is giving back. It’s passing it forward. Once in a while, people say to me, “I’m thinking of doing something charitable, what should I do?” I say, “What’s in your heart? What’s been your life experience?” It doesn’t mean that if everybody’s on board to stop cancer, that has to be where you go. It’s what relates to life experiences. That is a beautiful way of passing it back. I want to talk a little bit about My Product Model, what you do there, and that’s very exciting for me. I want to make sure we leave in a few moments of that here.
My Product Model came out of my background of modeling and the evolution of eCommerce online mainly led by Amazon. Back in 2014, I’ve always been online. I had a portfolio website very early on in the website’s personal branding era, back in early 2000. I’ve been following the digitalization of every industry for a while. I thought it was very exciting to see modeling transform, essentially it could live in an online ecosystem. I thought it was great because as a traditional model, you spend all your day going on auditions and castings. It takes a lot of physical energy and physical time, but online you can do a lot more and you have a lot more free time. There’s a lot of economics to that as well. Back in 2014, I started to see all these people selling on Amazon need better product photos. This is going to get very competitive. They’re going to need people to sell these photos like models and pictures. I was experimenting. I got on Fiverr and I created a gig that was like, “I will pose with your product for $5.”
At the time because I’m famous to some degree, there was a lot of criticism about, “You should never do things like that,” and whatever. That’s why a lot of famous people get stuck. They’re famous, but then they don’t have new tricks. They’re a rabbit with no new tricks. I was like, “It’s not like that anymore.” This is a world where everything is democratized and everything is flat. It doesn’t matter. I created this gig and I use my name and my image. Within two days, I was getting orders. I was like, “This is something.” I was thinking, “How do I get these people to send me their products? What is my process going to be?”
I got a box and I would have them ship me the product there. I had a DSLR in my house and I have lights. I was also doing YouTube videos. I had all the equipment and I was like, “I’m going to try this out and see how this works.” Fast forward many months later, I was doing twenty jobs a week. I don’t raise my rates on the platform. I was definitely making several hundred dollars a month from Fiverr doing this. A couple of months later, it was more increased. I created more gigs. I did it for a couple of years on Fiverr, then I was thinking about, “How can I convert this off of Fiverr and where do I find my leads?”
Around 2015, 2016, my boyfriend and I were in the car going to dinner. We like to talk about business a lot. That’s what we do all day, every day. I was thinking, “This whole influencer thing is evolving. I see business opportunities in that. I see business opportunities in product shots, photography, and content for eCommerce entrepreneurs.” I don’t know the name, we were driving and I was like, “My Product Model, let me see if that domain name is available.” I started building out the site, and then the next big thing was, how do I convert the clients that I have on Fiverr onto my website? After that, how do I find new clients?
Reverse engineering sales products in the online space and finding lists and creating Facebook groups, going into Facebook groups. I wrote an eBook about how to create better photos. I’ve done a lot of podcasts. It continued on and on. What we do is provide product photos for Amazon sellers, Etsy sellers, eBay, Shopify platform and Wix or wherever you create your eCommerce site. We just don’t do white backdrop photos. We can create them in environments, make them editorial, make them colorful. We redefine the idea of what a product shot is for a consumer so that they can gain a competitive advantage in a marketplace and it’s a lot of fun.
Someone famous and recognizable goes, “I’m going to go to Fiverr.” I’ve had many people say to me, “I’m too valuable to sell myself on Fiverr.” I’m always like, “No, we can all sell ourselves on Fiverr. It’s a way to try out something to get leads.” Is it MyProductModel.com that people can go to?
I have to say we danced so many places. I’ve learned so much. I celebrate who you are as a woman, as an entrepreneur, as a true Heartrepreneur who’s giving back. I want to thank you for all the value that you created here, Daisi.
Thank you for having me.
For our audience, a couple of reminders. We do have a very active Facebook group and maybe Daisi will join us there and be able to contribute more value as well. On Facebook, it’s #Heartrepreneurs with Terri Levine and we’d love to have you join us there. There are lots of tools and resources. Most of the guests that I’ve interviewed over the years are also part of that group and in our community. The second thing is we had a valuable webinar for you. It’s our gift. It’s total education and nothing’s sold. That is at TLWebinar.com. Thanks for tuning in and we will see you next time.
- Daisi Jo Pollard Sepulveda
- Meningitis Foundation of America
- My Product Model
- @DaisiJo – Instagram
- DaisiJo – Twitter
- LinkedIn – Daisi Jo Pollard Sepulveda
- Facebook – Daisi Jo Pollard Sepulveda
- Meningitis News – Podcast
- #Heartrepreneurs with Terri Levine – Facebook group
About Daisi Jo Pollard Sepulveda
Daisi Pollard Sepulveda is an American model, international beauty queen, businesswoman, author, influencer and actress. Daisi was born in Newark, New Jersey and raised in New York City and is of Jamaican and Middle-Eastern descent. She was born with a minor birth deformity on her left eye called an upper eyelid coloboma but had reconstructive surgery at the age of 22. Daisi was raised by her paternal grandmother from the age of 12 to adulthood. Daisis ‘ grandmother thought she had the potential for modeling, acting, and dancing which led to professional training and shortly thereafter, Daisi began working with various fashion brands around New York City.
Through her early exposure to several entrepreneurial women in her family and experience with learning how to market herself as a young model, Daisi developed a deep interest in business leading to a B.S. in International Business, an MBA in Leadership & Management and several certifications including a certificate in Vaccines from Perelman School of Medicine.
Daisi has turned competing in pageants into a full-fledged career including multiple business ventures, public speaking, books, appearances in film and television and philanthropy. Her body of work includes New York Fashion Week, New York Couture Fashion Week, Los Angeles Fashion Week, appearances on MTV, Lifetime, Bravo, Good Day LA and several other networks. She has also appeared on international networks TVJ and CVM’s Smile Jamaica and Star World ABS-CBN in Asia. She made her film debut in King of the Streets (2009) and has appeared in other indie films including, Box of Shadows and ABC’s of Superheroes.
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!