I’m a firm believer in acknowledging and putting into practice what I preach and this right here is one of my absolute favorites, “Don’t put off enjoying the blessings in your life. Wear your good clothes and drink that good wine.” There is absolutely no reason why “dressing up” should only be reserved for special occasions.
It’s a Thursday afternoon in Nairobi, the radiant rays of the sun are beaming brightly around the lacy white-edged clouds rolled in the blue sky. This is definitely a recipe for a good day ahead. I am seated at the newly refurbished and serenely beautiful Jiko restaurant at The Tribe Hotel, a luxury boutique hotel located in the heart of Nairobi’s sophisticated Gigiri district.
Tuesday 8th March is International women’s day, a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women and so much more. My guest on the third edition of Capital Lifestyle’s 25 Questions is a Woman who over the years has become a voice and champion of creating awareness around blended families, something that was rarely talked about in public and was frowned upon in the society for a very long time. In her own words, she says, “I share with you how my love for fashion has helped me get through my greatest adventure yet thriving in a blended family and finding a peaceful and glorious stepmother’s happily-ever-after.”
Catherine Kariuki aka Fashionable StepMum walks into Jiko Restaurant looking indefectible, wearing impeccable makeup and elegantly dressed in a ‘snatched waist’ figure-hugging black dress and Black satin almond toe Manolo Blahnik pumps featuring a square crystal buckle encased in a gunmetal frame. . She and I definitely agree on one thing, “Style is a way to say who we are without having to speak.”
25 Quick Fire Questions with Image Consultant, Catherine Kariuki
3 things every woman should have in her closet?
*Eyes lights up * “A classic black dress that matches your body shape. Then a classic bag, and it has to be pure leather, one that can stand the test of time and you can wear it with any dress, so pick a color that can go with any dress to match it with. Lastly, the right undergarments. *bursts out laughing * Let me tell you Vinie, they make a great difference. You can wear a gorgeous dress but if the under garments are not right, it will mess up the flow of your attire.”
If you could teach one or two subjects in school, what would it be?
“I would teach Math. Every thing in life is math related one way or the other. You have got to calculate your way in and around life. If I can do math, then I can do life. I would also teach etiquette. You have to be kind, learn manners and do good to survive in an ideal world. Without etiquette, you are just a messy human.”
Window or aisle seat?
“Window seat. * sips drink *Honestly, I don’t want to talk to anyone during the flight. It is my me time to rest and take it easy. My trip, my me time starts the moment I enter that plane, so I just want my peace. I want to enjoy my trip without having to say a word.”
Traveling to a desert island and you are told to only carry 3 things. What would they be?
*holds her chin * “My Husband Mike to pay for the trip *bursts out laughing * don’t write that. Seriously though, this book titled By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho, a pen and paper to write my thoughts and a drink. A good quality drink is important. For me, it has to be a Classic Gin and Tonic.”
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
“You will be shocked. I have big feet. *looks down at her right feet * I am a size 8 UK so it’s not easy for me to find good quality shoes that fit. They don’t make a lot in that size. Oh, the number of pairs I have? About 60 pairs of shoes. Remember though for me, its quality over quantity……shoes that can support me, will last long and I can wear with many outfits.”
What’s one thing an outsider or stranger wouldn’t know about your industry: content creation and image consulting?
“It’s a job just like any other, requires return on investment, we have a balance sheet at the end of the day and it has to make business sense. It’s just not all fun and play. We have to make profit and sometimes it is really exhausting mentally, emotionally and physically – you are always thinking of ways how to keep up, to be relevant and to be consistent. There is no off day. You never switch off. It helps to be an introvert because you always have to be on recharge, you are always giving and giving.”
Do you have a tattoo?
“Yes I do. Two. *points to her back * You see this one? *lifts up her right arm * Here is another one on my arm. One more tattoo and I am do done.”
If you were a member of the opposite gender for one day, what’s the first thing you would do?
“Wow. *sips drink and pauses for one minute, eyes light up * In Nairobi? This one? You really want me to answer this? Or you mean another city? In this our Kanairo? *holds chin* Well, I would go on a date, look so hot and smell good and have the money.”
Would you ever appear on a reality tv show?
“No. Vinie? Never. *looks shocked* How much are they paying? Will I be a billionaire after that? That is career suicide. Nah. It’s not worth it.”
Your top 3 favorite designer brands.
“Christian Dior, Chanel and the shoes I have on today, Manolo Blahnik. They are comfortable.”
When you critic yourself and look around you, would you say your glass is half, or full or maybe, half empty?
*looks up, takes a deep breath and folds arms * Some days are good, some days are bad. It’s tough sometimes and I am also human. It’s half full.”
What is your biggest addiction?
“Clothes and interiors. I like to completely change up and rearrange furniture and create that good environment. I like good things not only to wear but also around me. I love flowers. Good things were created for humans or else who are they for? Nothing is unattainable maybe not for now, but one day. You can work towards having good things. Planes and Islands are bought by human beings, right?”
What’s the one special pet name or nick name your husband, Mike calls you.
Sherri *smiles *
What item is worth spending lots of money on?
*Eyes lights up * “For me? OMG! Flowers without a doubt. My budget for flowers at home and in my office is crazy. I think it’s about 70,000 Kenya shillings per month. Fresh flowers every week, the same florist and by the way, its real flowers, and plants. I will spend any amount of money on them. I always want to come home and find plants and flowers everywhere.”
Which celebrity/ celebrities would you love to raid their closet?
“Joan Rivers, the late. I loved her dressing. Second person would be Catherine Kasavuli. Third person you will be shocked, is Ellen. If you ask me if I would be on Oprah or Ellen’s show, well Ellen any day.”
Manual or Automatic (driving).
“Automatic. I do not want stress on the roads and by the way, I don’t enjoy driving. For me, its home, office, home. I can’t even drive to town. My cars have the lowest mileage.”
What challenges you?
“Telling me I can’t do it. * hands akimbo * You tell Cathy she can’t? That’s it. I can’t then I will go and do it. Just tell me I can’t. That’s it. Mike once told me, in the very beginning that this social media thing is becoming an expensive hobby. Well I told him I will make a business out of it. So, I went and registered the business in a week and now it is a business. Just tell me I can’t, well I will do it. Someone once said I can’t do or post on social media. I said what? *points at herself * Let me tell you I spent sleepless nights learning how to navigate and do social media. Look at me now I got this. Someone also told me I can’t run a marathon. I said what? I started walking around the estate and some people would tell me, “Mama utaweza?” Well, that’s how I went for Lewa. I had never run a marathon. So now you know. Just tell me I can’t, I will do it if it kills me”
Is there anyone you would like to partner with on a special episode on your @ Fashionable StepMum You tube Channel ?
“Catherine Kasavuli. I remember watching her on TV when I was growing up. I’d tell my mom I wanted to be just like her. I liked how she dressed, spoke and carried herself. In general she looked graceful and elegant and todate, still is.”
How do you manage stress?
“Stay at home and read and write. And travel. I remove myself physically from the situation. I prefer travelling abroad so no one can reach me easily unlike here, your phone will still be ringing and they can find you and reach you easily.”
Style or Fashion?
“Style. Style stands the test of time. Fashions fade, style is eternal”
What’s the toughest thing about parenting?
* pondering for a few minutes * “Well, having to change with my children as they continue growing. As a parent no one tells you, you are required to be a different personality in every stage they are in. They all go into their different stages of personalities and I have to find different motivation factors to keep up. I have to learn how to meet them where they are. I am the adult at the end of the day and sadly for me and every other parent out there, we might not evolve as fast as they are. Changing as they are changing. That’s it.”
Cat or dog person?
“None. I can’t figure out humans, so why animals? Huh? None. Nope.”
When it comes to poor etiquette, what are the 3 things that drive you mad?
*bursts out laughing* Sipangwingi. Ok joking. Well, it’s the attitude of Mr or Mrs know it all. You see this a lot. You can’t be told anything. Also you are not using the magic words of thank you, please, excuse me politely. It doesn’t cost anything to be kind and polite. When a waiter comes to your table, know their names. Acknowledge them. Relationships are important, we are not islands. Let’s embrace this. What can I do for you first before what can you do for me.”
What kind of a traveler are you? are you into adventure, culture or nightlife?
“Just to enjoy the good life but I wouldn’t mind a bit of culture. Good food. All the countries I have travelled to, I always google the best spa. I love it. Makes my life easier. So lets start with the spa and food. I am not about the struggle when I travel * nods head * ”
There are many who aspire to be like you, what would be your advice for them?
“Let me answer it this way. I am always willing to change to learn. I am not afraid to try new things. I am authentically myself. There is space for me in this world. Be yourself, trust the process. Do you please.”
(Fashionable StepMum ‘s image consulting services https://imageredefined.co.ke/)
(Special thanks to the Jiko Restaurant, Tribe Hotel. Re-opened in February 2022, Jiko takes inspiration from age-old cooking methods and ingredients from across Africa. Finding the elusive balance between discovery and familiarity, Jiko delivers an informal and social setting, where the surroundings are as vibrant as the food https://www.jikoafrica.com/)
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