Born in Malaysia, Consuelo Dupal Florent has achieved a lot during her short lifetime growing up in Saint Lucia.
A graduate of Saint Joseph’s Convent, Consuelo developed a keen interest in pageantry. In 2009 she took part in the Miss Haynes Smith Caribbean Talented Teen pageant and won.
A few years later she went on to compete in numerous other pageants and did remarkably well by winning in most of them and placing among the top finalists in the others. In one of the pageants she captured the ‘Best Dressed’ award. She designed all her outfits, a feat of which she is quite proud.
Dazzle Magazine had the pleasure of sitting with Consuelo for an interview, during which she shared her life story and the triumphs and challenges she has experienced over the years.
Dazzle: What made you get into pageantry?
Consuelo: My mother has been a pageant coach since the 80’s, so it’s basically what I grew up with. Ironically, she never wanted me involved because she never liked the idea of children’s pageantry. Then Iva Satney approached me in 2009 and asked me if I would be interested in representing Saint Lucia at Miss Haynes Smith Caribbean Talented Teen. Iva told me the girls were really good but she was confident in me. When I’d gotten through and done the show I came out on top. My mom was kind of unsure about it but being the supportive mom that she is, she was there right through. I remember I got injured two weeks before the competition and I couldn’t dance like I’d planned. Barry George was in charge then and he’d proposed doing drama. I thought that was what girls did when they didn’t have talent so I was against it, but he worked with me and I won best talent that year. I fell in love with theatre then.
Dazzle: What is Sofyerie all about?
Consuelo: Sofyerie is a promotional marketing agency. We provide
push staff for different types of events. We do anything from product sampling to
corporate launches and everything in between. We’ve recently been getting into dance
as well, so there are a lot of different phases of Sofyerie but basically what we
do is provide staff for different events.
Dazzle: So how and why did Sofyerie start?
Consuelo: In 2010 I was already doing promotions with another agency. We were representing Windward and Leeward Brewery at the time, and then my boyfriend, now husband, got a job at Brydens. He was the brand manager for Carib beer so I figured I couldn’t be representing another brand, as support. I’d proposed the idea of being a ‘Carib girl’ and he thought it would be better if I got other girls to do that. I found out who among my friends was interested. I was the only person with the means of transportation for promotions and they depended on me. Then other brand managers started calling for girls to do events. Then he told me I should start taking it seriously because people were already calling. We had no name for the business, but the idea for ‘Sofyerie’ came when we were at a small event down the coast. We were dressed nicely and this guy said we were looking ‘so fiery.’ After we’d laughed it off I realized it was a good name and decided to put my own twist to it.
“Our slogan is “It’s not just a job, it’s a lifestyle.” That’s what I promote when it comes to Sofyerie. We teach the ladies aspects of life. You don’t just come to the promotion, talk to people, look pretty and go. We have workshops where we teach them something different— makeup skills, how to walk in heels, speech communication and sales tactics. When you hire Sofyerie you’re not hiring a ‘promo girl.’ There’s a stigma attached to the term so I don’t call my ladies that. You’re getting a brand ambassador.
Dazzle: At what level do you see yourself now in terms of your career, and where do you want to be in the near future?
Consuelo: Well, career wise, apart from Sofyerie I have a Bachelor’s degree in hospitality management and I am a certified wedding consultant and event planner. I do have a day job outside of Sofyerie. Currently I am a marketing executive at Body Holiday but as of November 2018, I’ve moved into a new position — Special Experiences Leader at Body Holiday, which basically deals with event management, weddings and consultancy at the resort. I would love to eventually have Sofyerie as my main job but I think Saint Lucia has to really develop an appreciation for what we offer, but we’re getting there. I think for all the years that I’ve had Sofyerie, 2018 has been our best year yet and I hope it continues that way. I do have some very big plans to grow the business, so that’s what we’ll be doing in 2019.
Dazzle: How does one qualify to become a part of your team and what do you look for in team members?
Consuelo: My ladies sometime say I look for potential. I don’t look for what you are right now but rather, what you’re going to be later. A lot of the ladies who have come through our doors started out not being able to do makeup, and not having a sense of style. If you see them now you would never believe that this is the same person that you saw before. I do look for personality but there are ladies who’ve joined who were total introverts and then transform.
Dazzle: How has business been for you so far and what challenges have you faced?
Consuelo: Major challenges would be persons not paying the price that you want them to pay. I think for so long, ladies in Saint Lucia don’t know how to market themselves, so they often sell themselves short. Most times when you call for your price, the answer that you get is, “Oh I can get ladies to do that for less.” I saw the level of work that we had to do. We had to look just right and no one expected anything less, so why not pay us what we’re asking? It took me a while to realize and I decided it was okay to turn down certain promotions.
We had major success in acquiring certain brands like Windward & Leeward Brewery Limited and Peter & Company Distribution. We also started work with regional companies as well. We worked with the Barbados Tourism Authority, and with brands out of Trinidad also.
Dazzle: Who or what has been your biggest inspiration in life?
Consuelo: I would definitely have to say my parents. I’ve never seen them have any downtime at all, they’ve always worked hard. I grew up really fortunate. However, my dad made it known that I had everything I needed but I wouldn’t be getting everything that I wanted. I learned early that I had to work hard for the things I wanted. It wasn’t going to be handed to me. At first I didn’t understand but it’s inspired me to work hard.
We wish Consuelo and Sofyerie greater success in the future and hope to see them thrive.