Jessica Dalby might be the name and face of her business, but her brands are all about lifting up others, she said.
“My mission statement is: everyone can shine and succeed together,” detailed the founder of Jessica Dalby Brand Media.
Under the company’s umbrella are four brands: “Diggie A-2: The Progression of Hip-Hop” video/audio podcast, P.U.S.H. Entertainment, “Plan D with Jessica Dalby” video/audio podcast, and Unified Goals Published — which Dalby describes as a collaboration of initiatives that deal with mental health, music, and more.
Click here to connect with Dalby on LinkedIn.
The Diggie A-2 podcast — the original brand — focuses on celebrating hip-hop culture while shining a light on social injustice and giving a voice to independent artists. P.U.S.H Entertainment is a management service for up-and-coming artists to help them get their start in the music industry. Plan D podcast focuses on blending mental health and music.
And Unified Goals Published — her newest brand — is a digital publication that aims to share stories of the talented and impactful individuals in various cities.
“To me, at the end of the day, to see other people shine truly does warm my heart,” said Dalby, who came to Kansas in 2015 via the U.S. Army and started her business two years ago.
Unified Goals Published is expected to launch its first issue Aug. 20 and feature 17 creatives from Kansas City. Each quarterly issue will focus on a different city, she said.
The publication is designed to bring shine to those who are making a difference and might just not be seen, heard or recognized, Dalby said. Those featured include a diverse selection of artists, musicians, designers, chefs, entrepreneurs, and non-profit organizers.
“(It’s) highlighting the best, the brightest, and those that would otherwise be overshadowed,” she added.
Dalby is especially proud to feature Unified Goals Published designer Quincy Rose — also a writer and spoken-word poet — in the first issue.
“She opened up for Rupi Kaur [in KC],” Dalby noted, referencing the Canadian poet who wrote “Milk and Honey.” “[She’s a] phenomenal poet … That’s the biggest thing that I always want people to know. It’s not just me. So with her, a lot of this has come to fruition and I’m grateful for her.”
The same day the first issue drops, Dalby is planning a launch party 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Aug. 20 at Vivid Events KC in Grandview to celebrate with some of the publications’ featured personalities, advertisers, and her supporters. The party will be catered by Jose Tererro, a MasterChef participant in Puerto Rico, she said.
“I’m very proud of it,” Dalby said of the digital magazine. “It was the one project that, honestly, I was hesitant on. And it really got traction. It really did and I’m proud of it.”
The journey hasn’t been painless for the Army veteran and New York City native.
“I was born in Brooklyn, New York, to no mom and my dad in another state,” she explained. “I kind of raised myself, so nothing has ever been easy for me. And then I served in the military and had my fair share there. So I don’t expect easy.”
“Diggie A-2: The Progression of Hip-Hop” podcast is the garden from which everything else flourished, Dalby said. Once COVID-19 began taking a toll on the world (and performing artists), she was inspired to start the hip-hop history podcast with Robb Diggie, her business partner for the project.
“When the pandemic hit, just as as a Hispanic woman, I saw a lot of things that were really bothersome to me,” she said. “And I just wanted to find a way to show some unity, to show some inclusivity.”
Each season of the podcast highlights different eras and artists that are influential in hip-hop culture.
“We both just love music,” she said. “(Diggie) is not an artist; neither am I. But the love for the music, love for the culture, that was what was a big thing for us.”
Diggie is the host and is joined by special guests. Many are independent musicians themselves, who are given the platform to share their own music.
“I said, ‘I think we can do something more with this,” she recalled. “I said, ‘People are struggling. Independent artists are struggling. It’s COVID. They can’t perform. They’re not making money. They’re losing exposure. We can open up a lane for them and interview independent artists of all genres.’”
Once Dalby saw the social unrest that erupted after the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis, she said, the opportunity to take the podcast further became clear. Starting in its second season, the podcast’s episodes were dedicated to victims of injustice like Floyd and Trayvon Martin.
“I tell (my kids) this, ‘If you have a voice and you have a platform, you have to use it,’” Dalby said. “‘It’s how you choose to use it. But if you don’t use it, you’ll always live with regrets that you didn’t.’”
Diggie A-2 peaked at No.9 on the Apple Podcast charts for music history, she said.
Starting the podcast, Dalby said, got her into business mode and the podcast progressed into P.U.S.H. Entertainment, where she helps musicians break into the music industry by assisting with everything from business development to media relations at affordable prices.
“I saw a big lack of understanding of the music business and that was concerning to me,” she added. “I took my own personal and professional experiences … and I said, ‘How can I make it better? How can I make it not only better, but affordable?’ [I put] myself in the shoes of the other person, the consumer, the artist, the entrepreneur, just like me.”
As a psychology major and sociology minor, Dalby has always had an interest in mental health services, she said. Out of that passion, her second podcast — “Plan D with Jessica Dalby” — was born.
“The premise behind that is when Plan A and Plan B and Plan C fail, you have Plan D,” she explained. “It fuses mental health and the power of music. That was a very, very sacred project for me because I was opening myself up. Now everyone was going to see, not just Jessica Dalby the business person, but Jessica Dalby as a human”
She opens up on the podcast about her own personal struggles with depression and anxiety and invites guests on the show to also share their stories to break down mental health stigmas.
“If you have those moments that you feel that you’re just not worthy or you’re not valued, then listen,” Dalby said. “Because you’ll always hear it from me, because that’s how I believe.”
The past year has been one of growth and evolution for Dalby, she said. She’s taken time to reevaluate her priorities and goals for her business. A turning point for her, in the spring, was the opportunity to talk with her business idol, Barbara Corcoran, on the podcast “Business Unusual.”
“I’m a (fan) not because of her being on ‘Shark Tank,’” Dalby shared, “but because of her story: her struggle with dyslexia, her starting her business, and then being married and then her spouse leaving with the secretary. That’s what I identified with.”
Corcoran takes questions from business owners and then has them on her podcast to discuss the answers. Dalby said her episode is supposed to air later this summer.
“Walking away from that, I got the biggest investment I’ve ever received and it wasn’t in monetary value,” continued Dalby, who has bootstrapped her business. “But it absolutely helped restructure my mindset. It helped me restructure the way things are going (and) gave me different perspectives. I will always value that as probably one of the biggest investments in my career.”
Out of this time of reflection came Unified Goals Published. But she doesn’t plan on stopping there.
Dalby is working on a book inspired by the Diggie A-2 podcast and she has a new joint venture on the horizon, she said.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.