Daisy Fuentes: Cuban Heat

When we first knew her, she was MTV’s first Latina VJ: tough, fun and trendsetting. Her chunky blond highlights became the beach-blown look of the ’90s, and New Jersey sounded cooler through her pink-frosted lips. As the blond strips gave way to subdued sun-kissed tresses, Fuentes became an international fashion icon. Here, her secret of how her bright, sassy style became an $800 million clothing, perfume and accessory line.

You started your business when celebrities shunned the idea of licensing their names to retailers because it was considered “selling out.” Why did you see it differently?
I don’t turn down an opportunity just because it’s not what everybody else is doing. I’m not an actress. I’ve hosted many shows about fashion, so it made sense to me. I just do what feels authentic.

What gives a brand staying power?
I started with sportswear and added categories one by one. You have to take the time to establish identity. In my line, the looks go from day to night and work to weekend. It’s classy and affordable, which is exactly what I would want!

What category would you love to develop next?
I love beauty, skin care and hair. I study the latest news, ingredients and formulas. I love new challenges. I would also love to develop my own wine!

Photo: Getty Images