Arlen: Welcome to the eCommerce marketing podcast, everyone. I am your host Arlen Robinson, and today we have a very special guest, Daisy, Joe Pollard Sepulveda, who is a veteran internationally known model and has been signed with some of the top modeling agencies including Ford, Wilhelmina, and MMG. She has modeled for brands including Gap, 1800 Flowers, Hanes, Pond’s, and Amazon, among many others.  Daisi is also a beauty pageant queen holding multiple titles including Miss Jamaica International, Miss Jamaica Earth, and Miss Israel USA. She has served on the board of several nonprofits and was President and Chairwoman of the Meningitis Foundation of America. She’s a lifelong entrepreneur with a breadth of experience, having owned a martial arts gym, limousine service, bed & breakfast, modeling school and agency, to name a few.  Most recently, Daisi started a company called My Product Model to provide accessible high quality photos and videos for ecommerce and digital brands looking to increase sales and conversion.

Daisi Jo: Thank you. Thank you for having me. 

Arlen: Yes. Yeah. Not a problem. And I also failed to mention that you also, you’re really done a lot.

I was barely keeping up with the amount of endeavors that you’ve been in, but I felt to mention that. You also started a company called my product model to provide accessible high quality photos and videos for eCommerce and digital brands looking to increase sales and conversions, which is something I definitely want to talk to you more about as we get into it.

But, um, yeah, so you’ve definitely have a quite a diverse experience, uh, under your belt for sure. But, uh, you know, before we get into. The topic of today, which is talking about, uh, you know, high quality videos and maximizing your eCommerce presence with the right videos, the right photos and tips on how to maximize the look and feel of your brands.

And why don’t you tell us a little bit about, you know, your background and, and, you know, kind of specifically how you got into what you’re doing today. 

Daisi Jo: Yeah, of course. So as you said, like I started off as a model and a former miss Jamaica. And so that requires being in front of the camera a lot. You learn a lot about the production process, what it takes to create great photos and imagery.

It’s not just all I’m posing in front of the camera, or you pick up a lot of additional skills and knowledge about the photo production and video production process, but also a lot about marketing and sales because essentially like modeling and pageantry is all about a static labor, which is. The labor of the human body.

So the aesthetic of the human body. So there’s nothing, I always say there’s nothing more difficult than trying to market a commodity like the human body, because there is a almost 8 billion of us on the planet and what’s one from the other? And in a lot of contexts. And so being able to create and to market a person as a product that is different from any other human being is really, really hard.

And so you like, you learn a lot about being able to convey certain characteristics and features through camera and video and what can set you apart from another person. I’m in the process. So long story short, I early in like 2014. I realized that I was, you know, in the eCommerce space as a model working for a lot of the fast fashion brands, and I realized that, Oh well there’s going to be a lot of people starting eCommerce websites that don’t have access to high production value and photography and models and stuff like that.

And I live in Los Angeles near the fashion district. Which is where a lot of the wholesale fashion items are sold now, you know, get distributed nationally, um, to like a lot of the brick and mortars and throughout the country. And I had a couple of the wholesale, his sellers approached me about modeling for their websites that they were now launching, you know, wanting to get a piece of the direct to consumer market space.

And so. I started putting together shoots for them and also modeling, and I have a DSLR and backdrops and my own lighting and everything, and I said, Oh wow, you know, this will be a lot easier if I didn’t have to drag all this stuff to their store and like set up in the back of their store if they could just like deliver the products to me.

Yeah. My own studio space. I could do this and I could do like a number of brands or stores in one day. And then I got online and I started doing some research and I made a profile on Fiverr, which was really a good marketing research study for me. And reaching out to people that were on the Amazon platform, the Etsy platform, um, and eBay and saying, Hey, you know, you need new photos and these are the reasons why you need new photos.

Look at how many listings are selling the exact same thing and using the exact same photos, you know, I can help boost your sales. And. And then what really was great was on the fiber platform people find you. So I set up a couple of gigs on the fiber platform and I was able to figure out who the CA, who my customer was, what did they look like, what were they looking for?

How did the whole ecosystem of like Amazon, for example, work and really hone in on. The product offerings and the pricing for product shots and product photography, especially in the fashion and beauty space. And then we know, I launched my product model and the name just kind of jumped out at me one day while I was going to dinner with my boyfriend and I was like, Oh, that’s it, and this is how it would work.

And then ever since it’s just been a really good experience. And essentially with no marketing for the first, like. Three or four years, I’ve been able to sustain like ongoing re clients and um, and really build a good portfolio for the site, for the business. 

Arlen: That’s awesome, man. That’s a great, uh, backstory and on how you really, from being a model and understanding the imaging aspect of, of sales and how that kind of corresponds and correlates to, you know, a particular brands on image and especially these days online and with all of these different platforms that are available via social media.

It’s, I think more important than ever that. You know, you really have the right images out there and you know, you do things the right way and it’s, people would be surprised that, you know, like you said, you were on the Amazon and you saw so many of these companies using the same exact product images.

And I think sometimes people. You know, as an entrepreneur, there’s so much you have to do. And I think in some respects that’s something that as far as like, uh, pictures and things like that, sometimes I think brands and and entrepreneurs really don’t really realize the importance of. How, just a higher quality image can really make a difference as far as getting it out there.

And I think especially nowadays, more than ever because we have so many of these different devices that people are accessing, you know, the internet and these online stores with, and with that, you know, you really have to be careful on how it’s going to look across a whole multitude of platforms. So yeah, I think you’re, yeah, you’re definitely, I think right on time with your business and I know you’re going to be successful for sure.

Now. Thank you. Sure, no problem. I know, if, as far as, uh, you know, kinda honing it in on to the eCommerce businesses that are listening or people that are in charge of marketing and eCommerce sites, the bare basics, what does it take to make a good e-commerce photo when you’re, you know, with respect to lighting, you know, equipment, things like that.

Daisi Jo: Okay. So I think Amazon has kind of caught onto this too, because now like a lot of sellers are selling these like a sets, like pop up sets with the backdrop, the lighting and some of the a stands and stuff like that. So that is true. You do need the backdrops and the lighting and stuff like that, but having a really good background, so mainly paper instead of like the linen cloth that I think most of these kits come with.

And the umbrella lighting is great, but also like beauty box lighting, if you’re doing brilliant PR beauty products, understanding how to position in lighting. So there’s a lot of tutorials online about like the three point lighting, which is like two on the side, one on the front, and there’s some stuff about back lighting.

But lighting is more complex complicated than that, especially if you are working in an indoor space that is not conducive to artificial lighting. The whole idea is that you want to replicate the sun. And that is actually a little bit more complicated to do with with lights then it sounds, because people, we’ve as humans, we are very attuned to what is natural light, what isn’t meaning light that comes from the sun and what is artificial light?

And it’s one of those things that’s kind of like seeded into humanity in a way that we can’t quite explain. And so more and more people. Are looking at images online and they’re learning skills that they didn’t have to learn before. It’s happening very organically, where now, like the simplest person that does not consume much and does not like read magazines or, or look at websites very often, is able to tell a good photo from a bad photo very easily because they’re being saturated with images and content like never before.

And so. Being able to produce those kinds of photos is really important. The smartphones are getting very, very sophisticated and there’s a lot of argument about whether they’re going, if they are really replacing DSLRs, which are like the professional cameras, or whether you still need a DSLR, I am recommend using a DSLR.

And if you have like the new iPhone, the latest iPhone with the three cameras and stuff like that for various things, I think that. DSLRs are still the baseline for if you’re producing content for a website, right? They give you that richness, that depth, that looks just really real, like it’ll come out at you.

There’s more that you can do with focusing and like really enhancing a product, especially in post meaning in Photoshop with iPhones and the Androids and the camera phones. I recommend using those. Um, specifically for social. So I use my iPhone a lot for Instagram stuff because it has the portrait mode, which blurs out the background.

It’s also something that’s just culturally become acceptable in the Amazon feed is to see, uh, photos that are taking with an iPhone. And the quality is varying. So, for example. If you’re a, let’s say t-shirt brand and you have a website, like you have a Shopify site, you have an Amazon, and you have an Instagram, then you’re going to want like your really professional photos to be on your website.

Amazon has their own criteria about how those photos look on their website. Mainly everyone is familiar with the, the first photo being a white background. White background does not mean that that is the only thing that can be in the image. By the way, white background means that the everything besides the main product in the back, the backdrop needs to be white, but there’s a lot of ways to enhance the item that you’re selling.

In that white photo, and a lot of that is through styling, through recreating a real life scenario in how you would use that product or where that product and then an Instagram. There’s two things that you’re doing. You’re creating aspirational lifestyle photos, which do not need a white background. They are much more successful in the conversions are much greater when those images are done, like in real life.

So if it’s a tee shirt, then if it’s like a street fashion, if it’s shown like the model walking down the street, but everything in the photo is really clear and really sharp and you can identify that you are selling that shirt. That’s really important. And also user generated content, which means that these are the customers that have actually bought products from you and you are featuring them in your feed.

Those photos do not need to be as highly produced as photos that you are creating. To sell your product. So the lifestyle photos, for example, that you’re using for the, with the models need to be high production value. The user generated content that your customers have taken, you know, a selfie in the mirror at a bar or them walking down the street or in their house or whatever.

Those can be a bit grainy. They can, the composition doesn’t have to be perfect because it’s real life and you’re basically emulating. Well, somebody in a real world experience and saying that this is my customer. They’re not a professional model. We don’t even want them to look like a professional model.

We want them to look like our customer. And so that is really important. And those, so those are the three areas where, uh, different photography styles really apply and really need to. Be there and as I will again drive home, that Instagram is very different from the photos that are on your website. And a lot of people want to just repurpose the photos on their website on Instagram, and they’re going to be less successful doing that.

So those are some things that are really important. Yeah. 

Arlen: I appreciate that breakdown and then kind of taking it back to, you know, will these cell phones, will they replace the DSLRs? And, um, yeah, I totally agree with you. I, at this point, looking at technology and looking the way things are, I don’t see it anytime soon.

Cause like you said with the DSLRs, you, there’s, there’s a richness that you don’t get with the iPhone. Even the latest iPhone is, like you said, with the three cameras, it’s. There was a difference. And I think what people have to realize is these mobile devices are multi purpose devices where you know, they’re not just meant to take pictures.

You know, you got the internet, you’ve got, you of course making calls. You have all of these apps. And so although they do have high quality cameras, they do have a high resolution. The whole focus is not on. Taking pictures. So unless, um, sometime in the near future there, you know, we make leaps and bounds and the technology and they’re able to actually.

Kind of mimic that richness of the DSLRs. I don’t kind of see that happening. And you mentioned a couple of things that also want to kind of break down as well, where you talked about using photos, you know, across the different platforms where people have to be cognizant. And you said, of course the.

Photos that are used on your website. If you try to use those on Instagram, you know you’re going to have some difficulties. So you’re going to have to have specific photos and photography for the social platforms versus what you’re using on the site. Now, to kind of break it down even further for people that you know, may not be familiar with the terminology, because you know when you’re.

Thinking about, let’s say web design, you’re thinking about your social presence and you start to think about, all right, what photos am I going to use? How am I going to go about this? You know, for a startup, why don’t you break down the difference between stock photos versus manufacturing photos versus, you know, just original photos.

Daisi Jo: Oh yes. Oh, this is a big thing. So stock photos, I’m sure everyone kind of has an idea of what that is, but they are generic photos that you can buy on a platform like a, you know, one of the famous ones is Getty images. They do a lot of stock photos of lifestyle photos. So like for example, the mom takes the kid to the doctor there.

Doctor’s office there, the model with the a doctor’s jacket on pretending to be the doctor for the kid, and you could basically use that photo across so many different websites. It can apply to so many different things because it’s just very, very generic. It’s a very real situation that most people can relate to because they’ve been in that situation, but it’s not specific to the brand.

Or to the product that you’re selling and the manufacturer photos. So this is very popular in consumer goods. So for example, um, I talked about fashion, jewelry, makeup. You can go on Alibaba and for example, and you’ll see a ton of manufacturer Genet afraid of photos. And that is where the manufacturers that make the products, let’s go back to like a tee shirt example.

You know, from China or even American apparel when they were in business, they produce their own photo shoots. And then they distribute those photos out to all of their buyers. All the retailers that buy the products are, have the privilege of using those photos in their marketing and advertising. Of course, what happens is like, so for example, if you’re buying a product or tee shirts or dress off of Alibaba, and you’re going to then take the picture that comes with the order that you may, you placed and you’re gonna use that same photo on your website.

Well. It’s not specific to your audience. So every eCommerce site has a audience, right? They have a customer, whoever that customer is, maybe your customer is plus size. Maybe your customer is, I’m looking for prom gowns, and maybe they’re not the same ethnicity as the. Models that are in the manufacturer photos or they don’t have the same body type.

And that is a big issue in the eCommerce space when it comes to fashion is a, a lot of the fast fashion brands, their products are made in China and they use the models that are available in China, which often do not match the customer. The aspirational customer in, let’s say, America, right? And a lot of the fast fashion brands are very, you know, street fashion.

So it’s very young. It’s very hip. And right now Kirby is in, so this is very curvy in the models that are working there in China, whether they’re, you know, white, black or Asian, do not fit those same demographics, those same sizes. They don’t look like the customer here. And so when the customer here buys the clothes and they buy it on the size of, they think that they are, that doesn’t fit.

And it doesn’t look the same as it looked on the model in the picture. And so then you get a lot of customer complaints and you know, I’m the same size as the model. It says size, sport, where you’re a different type of size four and so. And so what has happened here is companies that have done this very well, like fashion Nova, for example, hot Miami styles, which I love.

It’s a smaller brand, but you probably have heard of them though. They’re in Florida, Miami, obviously that’s in their name. They have become very, very successful out taking. Fast fashion from China and really doing a great job with the creatives and, and blowing up the internet basically. Um, fashion Nova, of course, everybody knows they become a mega brand with this kind of creative marketing, and then they went back and did some alterations to their supply chain.

So that better reflects their customer. But they really started with selling direct to consumer from any factors in China and everything came as is, and they just started creating their own images, their own content for their website and for social media. So that explained breaks down manufactured photos, and then original photos is everything that you create.

So once you’ve placed your wholesale order from the manufacturer, every image you should take, we always take a size what would generally be a small, medium and large, and we create original content for those sizes. And with every e-commerce side, like I said earlier, there is a specific customer in mind.

And. We really think and work to research and understand that customer. And then we create content that really relates to that customer. So for example, I’ve actually been in the eCommerce business. I’ve sold on Amazon and on my independent eCommerce sites. And what a really big success with these linen pants that we were selling one summer, um, because they were, they had an elastic soft, uh, fold over waist.

And so. What we found was that the plus size demographic really loved these pants and our competitors weren’t targeting that customer. And the extent of research that I went through to find out who this customer was is every time we shipped an order, I would Google their name and their city. And if I found them on Facebook and I would look at their pictures and I would see.

Plus size. They, they’re engineers. They work in a call center. They’re sitting all day long. They’re on the computer, they’re nurses. And you know, and a lot of them had the lower belly, you know what they call the Flippa that, so they didn’t want something that constrained your waist. They wanted something that was

On your waist. And so then I went out and I created images using a plus size model that had the same body type. Right. Just because she’s plus size doesn’t mean that she has the same body type as this customer. So I went out and I found, I had a friend who had this exact same body type where she had the Fuca.

Okay. And we did some lifestyle photos with her and then we use them to market better to these clients and we increased our prices. Like we originally, we were like basically competing for like the selling $9 pair of pants in the beginning and at the end. I was selling these pans as all season fold over linen pants for like 50 60 $70.

Arlen: That’s amazing. That’s quite a testimonial there. That really does speak volume to what can be conveyed by using the right image. You know, like you said, you kind of did your due diligence, you went and you researched the type of. Person or type of demographic that would be wearing those types of pants.

And then you, you, you created your whole modeling photos around that, which makes a lot of sense. And so, yeah, that definitely, I think kind of hits home to the, the importance of not only the fact that you have to have high quality photos, but there has to be a lot of thought into it. So there really is kind of, what’s the whole science to it?

You can’t just take pictures, you know, just expect that, okay, these are high resolution. I’m good to go. There’s a whole lot 

Daisi Jo: more. 

Arlen: Yeah, exactly. There’s a whole lot that’s communicated in these photos then people really do not realize. And you know, as far as kind of all of this is concerned, you know, a lot of the listeners out there are, you know, eCommerce businesses, they have their own brands or they’re working with a marketing department and their whole goal is to, you know, sell more products.

And that’s, you know, that, because really the bottom line, so. As far as, let’s say you wanted to convey a specific message and you know, a lot of times stock photography is not going to do it for you cause you’re trying to get something specific. You know, the manufacturing photos won’t do it. And even, you know, the original photos that you may have taken over a span of time may not convey a specific message that you’re trying to reach.

Just like what you said, and you’re doing your due diligence and finding out that demographic and then creating your whole. Photo shoot are based on that. So if a brand is looking to create their own photo shoot to convey a specific message, really what’s what is involved in setting that up and is it something that’s realistic?

Daisi Jo: So what I find is that a lot of people that start eCommerce websites, they try to do everything themselves. Right? And so they say, Oh, I’m just going to get my friend to model for me. She’s beautiful. She should’ve been a model. I’m gonna use my iPhone, or, you know, and sometimes it’s like an iPhone set, like what, seven or eight, you know, it was like one of these six, one of the older ones.

And we’re just gonna do it in our living room. And unless you have. A very high skill for photography or videography. Doing it in your living room and doing it like that isn’t gonna work. And so in most people, you know, I would say outside of like the coastal cities, because content here in LA is a dime a dozen.

Everybody here you kind of grow up. In this world where you know you’re expected, you just inherently learn how to create great photos in New York is very similar and so, and I’m sure like Miami is very similar like that as well. And so because it’s just a highly photographic city and everybody is, you know, somehow in the business in some kind of way.

But for everyone in between. It’s a big learning curve and there’s so many elements you don’t think of. Like when we shoot indoors, there’s like a hole sometimes in the living space. Somebody actually lives there, so we have to clean up everything before we even get started. It’s a lot of work to do and to create, and it’s also very expensive.

So the cost of getting a camera, a DSLR, if you’re going to use a DSLR. Or a newer iPhone cause they’re just as expensive as DSLRs lighting. You know, that’s another couple of hundred bucks backgrounds. If you’re going to use like a clean background for your main e-commerce photos or Amazon. And so that adds up and then the time that it takes, so you’re going to take a lot of time or shoot can be all day, especially if you’ve got more than one product.

And so as a business owner. You have to really figure out where your time is best spent. And I think a new entrepreneurs are not accustomed to thinking that way because you know, if you’ve come from corporate, you’re on somebody else’s time and you don’t realize how valuable your time is when you’re an entrepreneur.

And so we recommend, because it is our also our business, that you have kind of a content partner. And they’re earlier in the process that you figure out that you need a content partner the better because you’re gonna bump your head so many times trying to figure this process out. And then how did you post how to edit, how to resize.

All of those things that you’re, you know, cause you’re looking at like a fashion Novo or another website trying to duplicate what they’ve already done. And that’s really hard to do. And so the earlier in the process that you figure out that you need a content partner and the better off, the more money you’re going to save, the more time you’re going to save, you’re still gonna learn.

And that’s okay. We want, like for us, we want our clients to learn. And we do know that at some point they’re probably gonna bring their production in house. And that’s okay. Right? It’s like, because that is part of the process and I think that as a spitting somewhere, like in the marketing agency, kind of like ecosystem that exists or economy that exists.

So many people aren’t okay with their clients bringing their projects in house and you know, kind of like replacing the agent’s day. I’ve been in the business long enough to know that that is a natural occurrence. It is where you want your client to be. And I think there’s a lot of positives for that instead of trying to constantly handicap them.

So and saying your customer or your client. And so for us, yeah, I really want to see my clients graduate, as I call it, and be able to build their own system or their own department, their own production department. Because that to me says, Oh, I have elevated a brand. I have helped them establish enough revenue that they can do that and they’re going to forever be grateful for me for being able to show them or help them and guide them the way along the way.

So. That’s my attitude about it. And I know a lot of people, this is a very controversial topic about how agencies keep clients and stuff, um, and the term from clients. And so that’s kind of how I look at it. But I do recommend going back to. What they should do. Get a content partner in the beginning, it’s just going to help you so much.

You’re going to see sales so much better. It’s like, it’s just the same as like getting a copywriter, right? Or getting affiliate software. So many clients try to do affiliate marketing, you know, influence and marketing by themselves and they’re like, we’ll text you a link and just let us know how many people you referred.

No pay for the software. Don’t keep a spreadsheet, pay for the software. It’s going to save you so much and it’s going to help you with your relationships, with influencers or and with your customers in the long run. So it’s worth the investment upfront in so many ways. 

Arlen: Yes. Yes, definitely. I really appreciate your stance on that because you’re, you’re so right.

As far as entrepreneurs are concerned, a lot of times, you know, everyone wants to do it on their own and you’re birthing a concept and idea and you want to be involved in all aspects of it, but there’s, you have, there comes to a point where you’ve got to. Rely on the experts. And, um, you know, there will be a day where, like you said, you’re admirable enough to admit that there’s gonna come to a point where you’ve helped your clients grow to a certain point where, you know, they can have their own in house team where they have the staff and that resource to be able to do it and then fully be in control of their full image, you know, from beginning to end.

And, um. That’s where I think a lot of companies want to want to go to. And I think with technologies these days, it’s doable. It’s something that can definitely be done. Well, I’ve definitely learned a lot Daisy in this podcast. I’m a lot about imaging that I didn’t know and I know our audience and listeners have, have learned a lot as well.

And uh, you know, we can probably go on and on about all that it takes and what you need to do to present, you know, that correct imaging. Because it’s really so important and I think it’s going to be ever changing with the changes in technology and these upcoming different social platforms and in the way that we all consume media.

So yeah, it’s definitely something that I think everyone has to definitely, you know, keep a pulse on. Yeah. One thing I always like to do is, uh, my final question is kind of switching gears here, just so our audience members can learn a little bit more about yourself. Why don’t you share one fun fact with us that our audience may not know about you?

Daisi Jo: Well, I think the thing that comes to my mind the most is that I’m, I’m a distance runner. I love running. I don’t know how much fun people, some people I got that’s not that much fun. That’s hard. But it’s like one of the things that makes me the most happiest is going out for a run and you know, getting in some miles and the feeling the breeze on my face and just like getting all of the cortisol out and just like the dopamine gets going.

I just love that. So it’s my outside of, I think, modeling and business that is like my. Third passion or third hobby. And uh, yeah, that’s something, I mean, just talking about it, you know, puts a smile on my face and I can go on and on about running for longer than most people ever want to listen. 

Arlen: Gotcha.

That’s awesome. And I know a lot of people the same way. I’ve, I’ve met a lot of people here in the Orlando area that are big runners and, um, you know, they love it. They get out there at the crack of Dawn for the sun is up and they’ll run three and five miles. But, uh, that’s, that’s not my cup of tea. I’m a biker.

You have, I’ve had different knee issues, so I can’t do too much running. But I love biking and I’m here in Florida. It’s, it’s great, especially now in the fall, winter when the humidity is lower. So that’s my thing. But yeah, I appreciate you sharing that. And, um, you know, finally, if, uh, our listeners would like to pick your brain anymore about photography and e-commerce imaging, what is the best way for them to get into contact with you?

Daisi Jo: So I know you’re not supposed to do this, but I do it and I try to answer everyone. You can email [email protected] I do answer. All my emails. It might take me a few days, but I do answer my emails and I love to hear from people and hear what their pains are and if they have ideas or they’re trying out new things, I love to know and stay engaged in the conversation of like content creation and, and what’s happening and what people are doing and dealing with in real time.

Arlen: Well, yeah, we appreciate that and I definitely recommend all of our listeners to take you up on that. She should an email, pick your brain and take a look at your website as well. Well. Awesome. Well, it was definitely a pleasure having you Daisy on the eCommerce marketing podcast. 

Daisi Jo: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Podcast Guest Info

Daisi Jo Pollard Sepluveda
Founder of My Product Model