Darryn Melerine is a New Orleans-based Brand Ambassador/Influencer largely known throughout the continental US but has quickly grown into a recognized international public figure having been featured in The New York Times and Ask Men. A few of Darryn’s brand collaborations include Budweiser, Lyft and the Life is Beautiful festival based in Las Vegas. Darryn lives an extremely active lifestyle in fashion, business, travel, martial arts and fitness. Living life to the fullest and always on the go with a demanding travel schedule is one of many reasons people find him and his social platforms so intriguing. You can follow Darryn on Instagram or go to darryn80.com to learn more.

Can you tell us a little bit about your background, including how you got started in influencer marketing?

It was actually just on a whim. I really wasn’t participating too much in influencer marketing. And when I started to, and the only platform that I really use is Instagram, to be honest with you. I do have a website. I do have a YouTube channel. Unfortunately, I don’t really maintain them as much as I probably should. However, Instagram was just a hobby for me. I was just using it to just kind of keep up with some of my pictures and images that I had and the experiences that I’ve came across or places that I’ve been to, and certainly friends and family were always something that I looked forward to as well.

I’ve done a lot of modeling in the past and it started to pick up on Instagram and learn a little bit more about it. And as I continued to be more involved with it, I started to get some offers from different brands to be able to participate as an influencer or as an ambassador for them. At first, I was really reluctant on, hey, is this serious? And to be honest, a lot of them weren’t serious or they didn’t give a real opportunity to be able to pursue or that I was interested in pursuing, and then also some of the products I just wasn’t interested in.

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I kind of just pushed it away for a while, and then as I continued to use Instagram, it became more and more and I would start to get more messages, and then people started to reach out to me a little bit. I’m like, okay, let me pick and choose some of these. That’s kind of how it launched off for me.

Influencers experience a vast array of pitches from brands, and sometimes the brands have not done their due diligence to check out the influencer, kind of like you alluded to earlier. What’s the weirdest pitch you’ve received from a brand, if you can remember?

Actually it was cosmetics. I’ve had some pitches from brands that really just didn’t fit my profile. And look, I don’t know, maybe it was a mistake, but I mean, I’ve had quite a few that have pitched me in a cosmetic industry, that just was not me. They were pretty weird to be honest with you. Now, look, I’m pretty open-minded, I’m outgoing and nothing really scares me. I’m all for it, if it really makes sense. But some of those, not so much.

What have been some of your favorite brand collaborations to-date?

Buffalo Jeans, that would have to be a top brand collaboration. 30 90 Apparel, 30 90 Threads and Apparel, that is not only one that I favor in the lifestyle of streetwear type brands, but one that I have a close relationship with. The creator of that brand is a really good person and that kind of gets home to me. The 30 90 brand is certainly something that I look forward to working with on a regular basis.

Your areas of expertise include fashion, business, travel, martial arts, and fitness. What are some of your favorite topics to create content for?

I am a martial artist, so that is just second nature to me. I do those things all the time and that goes hand in hand with fitness. I’ve been doing that a pretty long time. It’s actually just a way of life for me that it’s relatively simple, so martial arts is one.

Everyone seems to think that, and if you look at the majority, and I think I’m the exception to the majority of when people say, you need to find a niche and kind of work towards a niche. A lot of brands kind of want me to streamline my own profile into a specific niche, and that really kind of cost me some opportunities because they want you to be specific to what their brand is about, and I’m just not doing that.

I feel like I’m very versatile, not only in martial arts and fitness, but I also do a lot of fashion. Those things are appealing to me, and then I travel a lot. I visit a lot of different places. I like to explore. I like to go out on these adventures. Those things are appealing to me.

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Those types of things really just become second nature to me, and actually, I don’t make up things that you see on my Instagram page or on my social media platforms. The things that I have there are actual things that I’m doing. They’re simple for me. If a brand wants me to collaborate and it fits one of those profiles, whether it’s martial arts, or fitness, or fashion, or even travel, those are things that I’m doing anyway, so they’re just simple for me.

How do you structure your average day, or is there such thing as an average day?

No, there is no average day for me. And look, I can’t take all of the credit. I do work with a team. I have a couple of people that work with me all the time, a photographer and a videographer that help me create content and come up with some unique ideas and approaches to different whatever the brand might be, or whatever the collaboration is, or however we need to try to fit that specific niche. They do help me with that.

My day to day is all over the place. I have no idea. I’m also a business owner, so that keeps me pretty steady. I do teach martial arts on a regular basis, that keeps me really occupied. Not only do I teach locally in my hometown, I live in Mandeville, Louisiana, which is just North of New Orleans, if you’re not familiar with the area. For me, teaching martial arts is right here in my local community. I do that on a regular basis, three times a week. Those classes are pretty long, involved, tiring and extensive, if you can imagine. I do that, but I also teach clinics or seminars on self-defense anti-bullying or just training, whether it be local law enforcement agencies, military, or doing speaking engagements for corporations. I do those things as well, and that’s all over, not only domestically, but internationally as well.

With all that in mind, I am so excited to be able to say this, but we’re getting to the end of 2020. What are some of your goals for 2021?

First of all, just survive 2020, right?

[laughs]

Fingers crossed, right? Yes, of course. Yeah.

Everybody wants to get out of 2020, but for the most part I’ve slowed down a bunch. I don’t think in 2019, I think I’ve spent more time away from home in 2019 then I actually was home and that’s not an exaggeration. I really put the the road work in for 2019. I don’t know in 2021 one that I want to be that active as far as travel. For the first time, to be honest with you, for the first time in 2019, I’ve been to, internationally, a lot of other places that I’ve never been before, and it was not only domestic travel, but international travel, which every time I came home, I was basically just unpacking and repacking for the next thing that I was going to.

I think 2021, I don’t know that I want to be that busy, but I do want to get back on track to being able to get some of that travel. I do have some goals that I want to reach in travel and get to certain places that I want to get to. Hopefully, everything opens back up and I’ll be able to get to someplace that I haven’t been to yet. I’m very interested in doing those things. I’ll continue to train as well, and then as a business and an entrepreneur, continue to work on my businesses and fashion just comes along with it all the way. A lot of times I’m in suits, but I like to just wear a t-shirt and shorts and just put on some flip flops and kick it.

Note: Influencer Spotlight interviews are edited for time and clarity.