I’d like to kick off with a quote by Simon Mainwaring which sets the right tone for what Dapper is all about:

‘An authentic and honest brand narrative is fundamental today; otherwise, you will simply be edited out.’

A personal brand is not something you can quickly conjure up for a date, an interview or a keynote talk; it’s something that evolves over time, whether you’re conscious of it or not.

But before we delve into the world of DAPPER and how our brand came about, take a moment to reflect on a few quick questions:

1. How comfortable are you in your own skin?

2. How much of your true self do you share with those around you?

3. Does everyone experience the same version of you?

These are big topics, and not ones I’m going to delve into today, but hopefully they will be useful thought starters to get you in the right frame of mind for what’s to follow.

The first time I became aware of my personal brand was aged 16, at an open day for Ivy League universities in Harare. I was surrounded by blazers crammed full of shiny badges and accolades, and there I was thinking my impressive IGCSE results and (third team) hockey award would make the cut!

It was a sobering experience to realise just how competitive the real world would be when I emerged from my happy childhood cocoon; but it was also a pivotal one as I began to understand how central balance and quality of life are to my personal brand.

Fast forward a couple of years and I ended up at UCT, and subsequently decided that Cape Town wouldn’t be the worst place to call home. I’ve learnt to juggle my ambition and my career with my love for the outdoors, adventure and human connection. It’s a constant work in progress, but one that feels right for me.

It wasn’t always plain sailing though, and there were a couple of defining moments which are worth a mention!

I’m sure most of you reading this will remember the anxiety around applying for your first job. Mine was heightened by sub-zero temperatures, a limited French vocabulary and attempting to find work mid-season in a ski resort!

As I walked door-to-door with my CV in Chamonix, I realised a few crucial things: the value of self-confidence, knowing what sets me apart, and being able to articulate my strengths.

I ended up working in a beautiful high-end restaurant for a crazy chef and causing absolute chaos in my first week… including filling the coffee machine with cocoa powder and smashing an entire tray of crystal wine glasses! My glowing CV from a holiday job may have oversold me for that position… but I learnt quickly and owned my mistakes, loving (almost) every minute of it.

The next milestone was in my mid-20s, when I decided to apply for a position at Glamour Magazine. The interview kicked off with an engaging conversation and compliments about my portfolio, and then the editor asked me whether I thought Glamour was a good fit for me. I squirmed in my seat as I really wanted a foot in the door to the world of magazine writing, but I knew it wasn’t quite right (bare foot with sand between my toes is more my style). So I took a deep breath, gave an honest reply, and walked out of there with a spring in my step and the most satisfied feeling of having stayed true to myself.

Soon after that Dominique and I launched Yellow Door Collective, a digital marketing agency that I’m proud to be a part of. We invested in a business coach, a happiness coach, time with mentors, and I joined the Entrepreneurs Organisation Accelerator programme – which have all influenced how I see the world and helped me find my place in it.

I’m now at a point where I feel ready to inspire other people to invest in their personal brands, to curate authentic online profiles and hold them accountable to their dreams and goals. Starting DAPPER with Linds has been an incredibly rewarding and rejuvenating experience so far, and we can’t wait to share it with you.