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Peche Di, trans model, former Thai beauty queen, NYU graduate and entrepreneur, founded one of only three transgender modeling agencies in the world and the first of its kind in New York called Trans Models.

She told me about her experiences in the industry while participating in filming for Candy Magazine, Barney’s and others as a model herself before realizing there weren’t enough opportunities for her to make a lasting career out of it and for other trans models on a path. similar.

Launched in March this year, Trans Models features 19 models, 10 men and nine women of different races and sizes, further showing Di’s desire for true variety in the market. To date, her models have appeared in campaigns for Budweiser, Smirnoff and others. Check out her journey as an entrepreneur trying to navigate the not always welcoming fashion industry in the interview below.

Photo Credit: Trans Models

Brian Honigman: According to your interview in the Atlantic, you started your modeling agency Trans Models because you were struggling to find consistent work as a trans model yourself. Did you start your business purely out of necessity, because you saw a lack of opportunity in the industry, or both?

Fishing Sun: Both. I wanted to create work for myself and for other trans people struggling in the fashion industry because it’s not as inclusive as it could be. At the same time, with the increased visibility of trans people in the media, I felt there was an opportunity, a moment of maturity, to inject something new into the industry.

Hongman: How did you initially fund your agency since its launch in March this year?

Su: Only from my personal savings. I’m interested in doing a Kickstarter campaign eventually for a few different projects, but when it comes to investing in the business, I’m very wary of any outside money from investors due to the control or influence I have. they might try to exercise.

Hongman: At this point, you’ve put together a list of trans models, stylists, makeup artists, and other support staff. What lessons have you learned about hiring the right talent for your agency?

Su: I learned the importance of collaborating with people I trust and respect before making a final hiring decision. My team includes Torraty Singanipar, an accomplished trans makeup artist whom we also represent, Roi Ben-Yehuda, a negotiation professor at Columbia University, and Dorothy Palmer, a trusted advisor and mentor. I collaborate with them on hiring decisions, especially when it comes to choosing the right role models.

Hongman: What were the biggest challenges you faced in developing one of the only trans modeling agencies in the world?

Su: For the industry to open up. While the fashion world values ​​and celebrates self-expression and uniqueness, it has yet to take the leap towards total inclusivity. We are working to change that. Not content to wait for opportunities to knock on our door, we create them for ourselves.

For example, at the end of November, thanks to a collaboration with the FED [a company that hosts gourmet dinner parties] we are planning to do our own all-trans fashion show. The idea being to create this event to better include all transgender talents in the world of modeling and fashion in order to give them additional visibility and publicity.

The show, which is aptly called TransGiving, will also be covered by the Oxygen channel as part of an episode of a new show they are filming.

Hongman: What advice would you give to other LGBT professionals looking to start their own business?

Su: Being yourself is very important in business and in life. I can’t believe how far I’ve come by just being myself. Living in your truth can help you focus on achieving your professional dreams and aspirations. Surrounding yourself with the right team and the right supporters is also very useful.