In Kenya’s corporate jungle, you need to not only know your stuff but also cultivate an image to stand out. Personal branding is an essential aspect of career growth.
Done well, personal branding throws the door to job opportunities wide open. And it all starts with grooming.
The BDLife spoke to Diallo Gatabaki, Shop Zetu’s chief commercial officer who has been riding on personal branding for career growth.
Diallo Gatabaki’s career journey spans over 13 years in the marketing, media, digital, fintech, and e-commerce sectors. Growing up, wanted to become a dentist because his uncle was one.
His career path, however, took form when he fell in love with business development. He pursued a Bachelor’s degree in communications with a focus on advertising at university and then moved to the UK to study for his Master’s in advertising and marketing communications.
Describe the Diallo brand.
My brand is constantly evolving. By nature, I am an innovator and a big risk-taker. Throughout my career and in the different companies I have worked with, I have constantly evolved.
At this stage of my career, where I am in senior leadership at Shop Zetu, my key focus is how I lead with a sense of empathy.
What products do you use for your grooming and skin care?
When it comes to grooming, there are three key aspects that men should focus on; hair, beard, and skin. I do not have much of a beard, but I religiously use beard oil from the Mandevu brand, and for my kinky hair, I use products from Saru Organics, all made in Kenya.
My wife recently introduced me to a skincare routine of using Garnier Pure Active Charcoal Charbon Peel of Mask. Finally and most importantly, men must wear sunscreen!
I am impressed that you know the importance of sunscreen.
Here’s the thing, as you get older, your skin and, indeed, your entire body needs a lot of attention and care. You must invest in yourself. Sunscreens are a game-changer.
There is a lot of debate when it comes to skincare, but one thing that is a definite consensus is sunscreen.
Do you use lip balm?
Definitely! I know most Kenyan men prefer to just drink water and manage their dry, chapped lips, but lip balm is essential. I have one in my bag, car, and at the office.
I’m glad that the perception of a ‘real man’ in terms of grooming is changing. It doesn’t make you any less of a man or less masculine when you invest in taking care of your skin, hair, lips, and basic hygiene.
Do you go for manicures and facials?
I do but not often. When I visit the barber for a haircut, then I slot in a manicure.
How many pairs of sneakers do you own?
Twelve pairs of sneakers that I wear on rotation. Five of these are white, which are wardrobe essentials. You can dress them up or down when you wear them with preferably dark jeans or sand or caramel-coloured khakis.
These are my personal preferences.
What are your other must-have wardrobe essentials?
Pastel-coloured oxford shirts, statement pieces outerwear like a blazer or sports jacket, good quality watch, chain, and sunglasses.
How many pairs of suits do you have?
With suits, I am going to disappoint you. I only have five because, at work, the dress code is business casual. However, I believe that a man can still be stylish so long as he has the basics in his wardrobe that he can dress up or down depending on the occasion.
For suits, the standard colours to have are ash grey, black, and navy blue.
Where do you shop?
It depends on what I need the outfit for. Locally, there is a shortage of good quality men’s clothes. Shop Zetu is trying to grow our men’s category.
When possible, I shop online and ship items from abroad. When it comes to suits, a good fit is key, so I prefer to have them tailored locally.
What’s your biggest wardrobe splurge?
I have a couple of suits from Surge Couture and my bespoke tailored suit by SAO Couture that I wore for my wedding.
When interviewing candidates to join Shop Zetu, what key aspects of their dressing do you look out for?
Most important, is it interview-appropriate? Our dress code, as I mentioned earlier, is business casual, but obviously, you don’t want a candidate appearing extremely dressed down, like say, in shorts and Crocs.
One needs to maintain a level of professionalism as they come in for an interview and even as we onboard them to the team.
Candidates need to prepare themselves for interviews and understand the culture of the company they are interviewing with.
These are the things that let me know that you care enough about your appearance and your brand.
Also, being on time for the interview is important. If you are running late, communicate by calling or sending an email.
What does not work for me is when a candidate is late, has not communicated they will be late, or is just a no-show.
Where do you see Kenyan fashion in the next five years?
We need to be competitive on a continental scale. When you look at South or West Africa, what stands out with these regions is that they have very distinct styles and are also very fashion-conscious.
That is the direction we need to take. We need to develop a serious appreciation for local fashion and be willing to pay for it.
We need to become a fashion-obsessed country because then we have more people making and wearing local fashion, industries grow, and jobs are created.
Which international creative personality do you admire and why?
Pharell Williams. When it comes to evolving, he has worn many hats, from music to fashion. Pharrell is now the creative director of Louis Vuitton menswear.
Looking at the Kenyan landscape, is it possible for a consumer to have enough selection of formal to casual locally-made wear for the whole year?
A resounding yes for the ladieswear but affordable local menswear is still a section of the industry that needs to be developed, and the opportunity here is massive.
As it is right now, we have just about 300 brands on the Shop Zetu platform. A larger percentage of those are “Made in Kenya” brands. And most of them started between the last 12 to 18 months.
The industry is growing. We are seeing a lot more adventurous takes on collections and designers not only focusing on Ankara, but also the formal corporate wear and special occasions segments.