Idalia Salsamendi: Learnings from Chriselle Lim’s Director of Business
She’s responsible for getting Chiara Ferragni her 12 Cosmopolitan magazine covers, booked Lucky Blue’s infamous Tom Ford campaigns, We Wore What founder Danielle Bernstein’s capsule with Onia bathing suits started with her; she organised Langley Fox Hemingway’s deal with Chanel and Chriselle Lim’s with Dior Beauty… to say Idalia Salsamendi knows her way around an influencer business deal is a major understatement.
Utilising the knowledge she’s gained in over a decade of experience, Idalia launched her company Idalia Salsamendi INC (ISC) in 2016 – where she organises the business strategy for both brands and influencers. Consulting with big name influencers such as Brittany Xavier, Jacey Duprie, Christie Ferrari and Caitlyn Warakomski, she also works with luxury brands from around the world and can be credited with producing the last two US campaigns for Chopard, and handling all of the digital and influencer strategy for Amastan Paris.
On top of this, Idalia is also the Director of Business for Chriselle Lim’s company, is the co-founder of jewellery brand LaHavane New York, and recently launched the podcast Realization – where she takes a look at what’s happening both behind the scenes and far beyond the elusive gates of the fashion industry. Intrigued to learn more on how she got to where she is, we pulled Idalia aside to find out all we could about her thriving career, working with Chriselle, latest projects, plus her tips for influencers on taking their business to the next level.
You’ve had such an interesting career. Can you talk me through it a little bit?
Thank you so much! I practically grew up in the industry (thanks to my mom), so it was really a matter of evolving through the years and figuring out what my niche was. I started as a child actress doing telenovelas for Univision and Telemundo at the age of 8, to holding top accounts in Miami’s top PR agency at the time when I was still in university, to moving to Los Angeles and starting to work as an agent both at Ford and Next respectively, to then moving to NYC to head up the Talent Division at Next, to going out on my own to build my own business while also uniting forces with Chriselle Lim. Sounds so simple on paper – but it’s been blood, sweat, and tears to be able to have had these incredible experiences.
How did you go from booking talent at NEXT Model Management to launching your own influencer consulting business?
I loved being a talent manager at NEXT, it was such an incredible moment of my career – but I knew that I wanted to continue to dig through the surface more and more with these influencers and not only book them on jobs. With my consulting, I’m able to get deeper insight on the workings of each influencer’s business and try to crack the codes on what will better them. A lot of the girls call me their “business therapist” and I always crack up when I hear it because it has a ring of truth to it.
Did you go straight from one to the other?
Yes I did! Once I got the blessing from NEXT’s founder Faith Kates to go out on my own, I thought to myself: ‘JUMP!’ I took one month off to dedicate to community service/charity, and after that – I hit the ground running.
Amongst other things, you’re now the Director of Business at Chriselle Lim’s company. When did you take on this role?
I took on the role almost immediately after I began my own business. I had left NEXT and got a call from Chriselle asking if I would come in-house with her. Although I had never worked with her, I knew her impeccable reputation in the industry and thought what an incredible opportunity it would be to unite forces. We’ve been together now for two and a half years and we couldn’t be happier.
Can you tell me a bit about what you do in this role?
In short, I overlook all business development within the actual company, as well as executing brand deals for her. She has fantastic management through DBA (The Digital Brand Architects), so between their relationships and mine – we are able to do really lock in deals and pitch creative projects nonstop. I advise and consult on the direction in which the company should be going, oversee all brand partnerships, propose bigger picture campaigns and projects, and travel the world literally ensuring there is not a stone left unturned. Taking a thriving business and having a continual evolutionary process to ensure we are always one step ahead of the game is no easy feat. Chriselle and I, as a team, want to ensure we are setting the tone for where the future of digital marketing is going.
How did the two of you first team up?
Funnily enough, when I moved out of New York City (ie: left NEXT) and did my brief stint in Los Angeles, that’s where we officially “teamed up” – now that verb has taken on a new role as both her and I are constantly traveling and exploring opportunities together.
Why do you think it’s been such a successful partnership?
Like any partnership, I think trust, hard work, and admiration is key. All those three qualities I have with Chriselle, and her with me. She’s a true gem in the industry.
What have been some of the major campaigns you have worked on together and what part did you play?
Oh my! I’ve been behind all of them for the past two and a half years within some capacity! My main strength with her is pitching new, exciting and collaborative ideas with luxury brands, and then actually executing the contract – all the while handling all legal aspects within the terms. Valentino, Oscar de la Renta, Dior Beauty, Balmain, Fendi, Chopard, Jaguar, Roger Vivier… the list could go on and on and on.
As well as working with Chriselle, you also consult for a range of influencers including Brittany Xavier, Jacey Duprie, Christie Ferrari and Caitlyn Warakomski. What type of work do you do with them?
What I love about my consulting business is that every client is different. Every influencer and/or brand comes to me with a specific purpose, and my job is to ensure that purpose is met, and also to peel the onion more and more to ensure the most streamline and effective path to success. Because I only work with those I like and admire, it makes the process that much more fulfilling for every party involved.
You’ve been credited with creating business models for influencers to help them take their careers to the next level. How do you do this and what are your top tips?
Being in the industry since I was a child, I have seen some key things that frankly either “work” or “don’t work”. Even though platforms change and the business evolves, the most vital things to ensure success really do tend to stay the same. My job through consulting and through creating my “Kits” as I call them, is to bring these points to life, and to make it accessible to whoever is curious about the information. My number one rule of thumb: Always say “thank you!” – you’d be surprised how many influencers in the industry will get a job with a client, complete the job, and never follow up. Being grateful and showing that gratitude is key to relationship building. Say thank you, send a sweet little gift… you get the point. This really applies with anything in life.
On top of ALL the above, you’re also the co-founder of a jewellery line and have recently launched a podcast. Can you tell me a bit about these two projects?
LaHavane New York (the jewellery line) is a joint venture with my mother which, thank goodness, has had tremendous success since its inception. Realization Podcast is my latest passion project – and man it’s so rewarding! There really isn’t any other agent/manager out there in the space that is “giving away” such vital and informative information. So many things in this industry are kept so hush-hush, that sometimes what’s floating around in the internet is quite frankly just wrong. If I can bring light to subjects that will better other people, then why not? I believe in abundance, and I believe in lending my hand to those who are also wanting to better inform themselves about the business.
How do you find time to do all of this? Do you ever sleep?!
Ha! I really don’t know how I do it all, and this isn’t coming from a place of ego. I just figure if I want something and I work hard for it, and remain open and grateful, that everything will fall into place. One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone tells me they didn’t have time… I’m like ‘ERRRR excuse me?!’ If you in your soul really truly deeply want something, trust me, you’ll find the time. And the best part is, you’ll actually have fun doing it.
And just before you go, if you could impart five top pieces of career wisdom from everything you have learnt – what would they be?
I’ll keep it to one and the most important: Don’t be an asshole. In other words, stay kind and stay grateful.
All images: Idalia Salsamendi