Today I speak with the style king himself, Darren Kennedy. For those of you who don’t already know, Darren is a TV Presenter, Fashion Columnist and one of the UK and Ireland’s top lifestyle influencers. He regularly writes for top publications, presents on a range of TV shows in UK, Ireland and the USA and has worked with some of the world’s most prestigious brands. His social media is the perfect concoction of positivity, style, charm and is full of helpful fashion tips for guys of all ages. A year ago Darren launched his own grooming company, Kennedy & Co which sells a range of affordable and effective grooming products for men. I caught up with Darren to find out more about him, his career and Kennedy & Co.
You are a renowned Style Entrepreneur and fashion columnist, can you tell me where your love for fashion came from?
My love of fashion and style came from my parents. They were young adults of the 70s and our house was adorned with photos of my mother wearing amazing fur coats and my father wearing flairs and other interesting outfits, so to be honest, I think it stemmed from there.
Having such a varied and busy career what do you do to maintain and look after your mental health and wellbeing? How do you manage to stay so fit and healthy?
I have a couple of things I try to do, one of which is to visit a gym on a regular basis. I always try to visit a gym no matter where I am in the world normally working out for around 30-40 minutes which is enough to keep me sane and give me a sense of regularity.
I don’t really meditate but I love just to chill out, close my eyes and listen to relaxing music, this acts as a kind of meditation for me. It could be anything from Sufjan Stevens to a little bit of George Michael, anything calming really helps. I also try and take care of what I eat. I eat pretty much what I want but I always know if I am eating too much sugar, ice cream or chocolate which are all things I love, I start to feel a bit rubbish after a while. Likewise with alcohol where if I constantly drink too many nights in a row, I start to feel it. So it’s not rocket science but it’s just about keeping an eye on it.
You took part in Dancing with the Stars having no dance experience which is very courageous, are you someone who always welcomes a new challenge?
Dancing with the stars was absolutely terrifying as I have never danced or performed on stage in that capacity, so that was a real challenge. However, I do like a challenge and I believe in pushing myself outside my boundaries, sometimes it’s scary and it takes a long time to work up to it but I’ll eventually get there. I was very proud of myself with Dancing with the stars because I noticed as time went by and the harder I worked and the more training I put in, I was picking up the routines quicker, which just goes to show even without natural ability you can learn anything.
You have an infectious optimism and an abundance of confidence, which is portrayed through your social media, TV presenting and on-screen appearances, does this come naturally to you or is this something that you have had to work on?
Optimism does come a little bit more natural to me but I do work on it. Some people are a glass half empty and some people are a glass half full, I am definitely a glass half full. On days where I am feeling a bit empty I will work on it and try and pick myself up and there are mental techniques that I use. In terms of self-confidence, I wasn’t always and I am not always very confident but I guess I have learned to work on that as well.
Even in times when I feel very vulnerable and not very self-confident, I can fake it a little bit. I guess ultimately it’s not about confidence for me, it’s about being self-assured and being confident in my abilities for what I do in terms of work which has come with sheer experience and working really hard and consistent over time.
I notice that you get the opportunity to travel a lot, is travel important to you and is there any destination in the world that has had a lasting impression?
Travel is always something that I knew I would do with my life. In a way, it’s in my blood as my dad worked in the airline industry at Dublin airport. So even as a young child, we were very lucky that we got to travel because my father was able to get reduced price travel tickets. I absolutely adore travel and without it, I do start to sink a little bit so it’s very important to me. New food, new culture and new people are very important for my soul. I haven’t yet made it to Mexico City but that’s next on the list and hope to go this year. I went to Sri Lanka and fell in love with it. I lived in France for two years where I studied in Bordeaux and worked in Paris and I discovered Biarritz during that period. Biarritz is very close to my heart and I have now made some dear friends and love it as its the perfect mix for me.
You recently launched your Kennedy & Co grooming range, what was your inspiration behind the brand and does skincare play an important part in your life?
I launched Kennedy and Co over a year now and we celebrated our one year anniversary last November which is hard to believe. It was really born out of there being a gap in the market for really excellent skincare products that were within reach of everybody and that’s what we’ve done with Kennedy & Co.
The feedback on the products has been amazing, it’s doing wonderful things for peoples skin and hair. What’s most important is that it’s affordable, all under fifteen euros, made in Ireland, vegan, sulphate and paraben-free and not tested in animals which are all the things that I stand for. Skincare is important, it’s not something I invest hours in every day, it has to be quick and easy as I am a busy man, but I think that represents most guys these days.
You probably have so many but do you have any top grooming tips that you can share with us?
My top grooming tip and my number one thing that I always say to guys is regardless of anything else you do for your skin, make sure you wear SPF every single day of the year no matter where you are in the world. Even here in the UK on the greyest of days, 80% of the damaging UVA rays still get through and they are the ones that are responsible for premature ageing of the skin. So that’s why the Kennedy & Co moisturiser comes with SPF 20 so you don’t even have to think twice about it, we’ve done the hard work.
Last but not least, I am a huge fragrance addict, can you tell me your favourite fragrance?
I am a massive fragrance fan and have been since I was around 13 when I used to steal my brothers Dior Fahrenheit, I’ve always been addicted to fragrance ever since. I guess one of my long term favourite fragrances is Bleu de Chanel, it’s kind of a signature for me and I have been using it since it launched. I also love Tom Ford’s Private Blend Collection, in particular, Azure Lime as I love the zestiness of it. I am a big fan of Hugo by Hugo Boss it’s a great fragrance and it’s been around twenty years and there is a reason it has lasted so long. Le Labo is fantastic as well, I like a few of their fragrances. I can keep going on and on, I love the fragrance!
Thank you Darren for taking the time out to answer these questions.