Diana Chanzu is a celebrity stylist and image consultant best known for Eric Omondi’s sensational fashion statements.
Diana speaks about her transition from banking into styling.
They say the hardest part about embarking on anything great is simply getting past the starting line. How did you get started as a stylist?
I started out as a fashion stylist out of passion. People need help when it comes to what they should wear for different functions or even just day-to-day life.
I started off with the women then realised men equally needed the assistance. Additionally, it was a hobby until I lost my stable job and needed to make money; plus, I was done with the 8-5 routine and decided to turn my passion into profit.
Fashion styling and image consulting is a relatively unorthodox career path. Is this what you wanted to always do?
I always knew I wanted to get into the world of fashion from an early age. Back then, it was either you were a tailor, designer, or a reseller of clothing items.
None of these appealed to me. I cannot stitch to save my life! But I knew people needed help figuring out what worked for their bodies, different occasions, etc. I graduated with a degree in marketing, which was not really an area of interest.
I got my first job as a banker. Those were the most trying times in my career as I had to adhere to systems and just stick to what was already set. I then took a break to raise my children and did a bit of interior decor on the side while at it just to have my own money.
My children grew and I got back into the corporate world. I even began importing shoes to satisfy that part of me and met a need of one or two women. When the contract ended, I started dressing people for profit. Everything you see is pure talent and passion.
Image is a weapon that can be wielded by both men and women to get exactly what they want out of life. How would you say your image has contributed to the woman you are today?
We all judge each other based on image upon the first encounter. Whether we like it or not, this informs our judgment. With that in mind, I have to dress up as my image will speak for me.
Plus, I feel confident when I am looking good. Some deals I have closed as a stylist have been purely based on my image as the client then trusts me to deliver.
The styling industry in Kenya is becoming competitive, how have you carved out your own personal identity within the field?
By being as unique as possible. I try to do what people would normally not expect and still make it work. I am also very particular about the brands I work with because that also contributes to my signature when working on anything.
Above all, I do not really focus on my competition, I compete with myself. I will always sit and evaluate every job, criticise it and see ways I could improve next time.
You have an impressive portfolio of celebrity clients. What advice would you give to stylists looking to work with celebrities?
I believe every client is special; whether one is a celebrity, public figure, or not. For a stylist looking to work with a celebrity, the client is to curate a unique image for them.
A celebrity’s image should not be replicated! That celebrity is a brand and has to stand out as a pacesetter even with their style. So creativity is key.
The Eve woman is confident, bold, and definitely stylish. You embody all these qualities and more. Tell us a little bit about your journey through self-confidence?
I have always been confident even though I am generally a shy individual. When I got my first baby my confidence was affected because my body changed so much and people pointed that out in unkind ways.
I had to work on that from within and remind myself who I was as an individual – that I am different and not like anybody else. When you lack confidence many areas of your life get affected.
So it was a work in progress, till I got back the me I lost. Now every challenge I face is an opportunity to remind myself about what value I possess, as I tackle it with confidence and strength. I am me and that is my greatest asset!
In the world of fashion, trends change quickly. What is the one fashion trend you swear by and why?
If one is looking to build a functional wardrobe, I would advise them to stay away from trends and embrace more classics then build from those as the foundation for their wardrobe.
The trend I swear by is a basic crisp white cotton shirt. Pair it with jeans, throw on a blazer or shorts, layer them under a dress or wear one oversize for a casual look. The possibilities this one garment gives to the owner are endless.