Susana DeSantiago celebrates first anniversary as owner of former Salazar & Navas talent agency

WHO SHE IS: Susana DeSantiago, owner/president of DeSanti Talents, bought the multi-cultural Salazar & Navas Talent Agency a year ago in February 2006 from Myrna Salazar, who retired from the business after 24 years.

HOW SHE VIEWS HER JOB: A former Miller and Budweiser poster girl, DeSantiago understands the modeling, promotions and entertainment biz.

“I make certain our talents are comfortable by representing them to the best of my ability.”

PROS: Comparing her modeling days to her current role as business woman, she says “Now I get to play with the big guys.” She enjoys working with more national, bigger clients and the potential growth they offer.

CONS: Mastering the necessary nuances of an employment agency. She mentions “Insurance, bonds, franchises with the union… but it’s all been so much easier because Myrna had everything so organized.”

KEY TO SUCCESS: “I had people that believed in me.” At age 13, Little Village’s Bonita Boutique owner Mari Carmen Martinez made De Santiago her mannequin.

BACKSTORY: Confidence instilled by Martinez and others encouraged DeSantiago to enter beauty pageants. She landed work on a Sears commercial in her teens. Her modeling career took off after she achieved a BS in Business Administration and Economics from Dominican University in River Forest.

As a Salazar & Navas client, she got to know the staff well by helping to organize beauty pageants. When the opportunity arose to purchase the agency she was prepared. “I had been there, done that and was ready to make a statement with my movement. Myrna was my friend, so I didn’t want to start another agency and perhaps step on her toes by competing with her.”

ON THE SIDE: She stills coordinates promotions and beauty pageants around Chicago that benefit scholarship funds for students.

BIG BREAKS: DeSantiago was in the right place at the right time when Salazar’s secretary suggested she’d be the right person to assume the agency. Buying a successful company, however, doesn’t allow DeSantiago to rest easy. “It’s really just opening the door to me,” she says. “It’s up to me now to keep it a success.”

WORDS OF WISDOM: To aspiring talent DeSantiago says, “Always go for it! You can wish it, want it, seek it, but you have to believe you can do it.”

HER ULTIMATE GOAL: “To become as successful as I possibly can inside and outside of the Spanish community and to inspire other women to do the same.”

A SOURCE OF INSPIRATION: Motivational speaker and author Tony Robbins?she’s attended his seminars and loves all of his books.

DeSanti Talents is located at 700 N. Green; phone; 312/666-1677; Email, See