For Man Crush Monday, we are going to start doing some profiles of dope dudes in DC. This will still be a girls club for the under represented, we’ll just mix in some men from time to time. Except in March, cause that’s ours.
DCFunemployment: So… Who Are You?
You can find Diego Gonzalez-Zuniga at the intersection of fashion and community – an accomplished retail professional turned neighborhood advocate and marketer, he spends what free time he has left documenting his (very stylish) love affair with the place he has called home for the past 5 years – Washington D.C.
His blog, Diego Downtown, launched earlier this year to fill what Diego thought was a void in the market – a place for men to find fashion and lifestyle inspiration that felt like the eclectic, curated and homegrown creative community that he lived in. Dedicated to spotlighting local boutiques and makers alongside national brands, Diego’s point of view is always about a sense of discovery and how people truly like to shop – high and low, at the mall and on Main Street. His hope is that one day D.C. will be known not only as a city with government and political influence, but also as one of notable style as well.
Named as one of the “Best Instagram Accounts to Follow” by Washingtonian magazine in 2016, Diego has also recently been featured by Complex Magazine, DC Refined, Made In The District and Fashionista Street Style. He is also regular contributor on several local television networks as a local style expert and is an active member of the DC chapter of The Fashion Group International, where he works to advocate for local brands, makers, and emerging designers. Most recently named a Top 40 under 40 in the DMV by Washington Life Magazine.
DCF: Why do you love what you do? What makes you funemployed?
DGZ: I’ve always had a strong interest in fashion and menswear. It started in high school working as a brand representative for a large trendy teen retailer and I eventually found myself working for several different iconic retail brands post-college. I was lucky enough to move up to the Washington, DC area with one of those brands when I took over as director of one of their stores in Bethesda, MD at Westfield Montgomery Mall.
DCF: Who was your first mentor and how did you find them?
DGZ: I wouldn’t necessarily say I had one specific mentor. My parents are my biggest fans and I’ve always been very independent as I was lucky enough to have a strong network of friends that supported and encouraged me throughout my professional career which eventually led me to launching my menswear and lifestyle blog a year ago.
DCF: What experiences in your life prepared you for where you are now?
DGZ: I really think it has a lot to do with the people and culture you surround yourself with. They really help influence and shape the person you are or hope to become. The one key piece of advice I always share with anyone I meet is, work on what your passionate about and the rest will come. You will never achieve the best version of yourself doing something you don’t love or aren’t passionate about.
DCF: Where do you get your energy?
DGZ: Lots and lots of coffee! I’m a huge night owl and find myself getting lost in my work sometimes. I get so caught up working on a blog post, writing e-mails or typing up a proposal that time sort of stands still when I’m not keeping close track of it. (DCF: As I edit this in the wee hours, I know exactly what you mean!). Time will only work against you if you let it.
DCF: What does balance mean to you and how do find balance?
DGZ: This is honestly something I’m currently trying to work on the most right now. Maintaining a full-time job, a blog, and a personal life is not an easy task. My calendar is how I’m able to keep track of commitments, but also allows me to allocate time for my personal life. Having a personal life is very important. (DCF: Starting to realize I need to schedule my personal time lol!). I always remind myself that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the help of the people closest to me.
DCF: A meeting is cancelled and you now have an hour free, how do you spend it?
DGZ: I’ll usually pop into the La Colombe across the street or stumble upstairs to the WeWork to keep working away. Sometimes I’ll stop in to visit some of my favorite local boutiques that carry some of my favorite menswear items such as Federal DC, Redeem, and Whiskey Ginger too.
DCF: What struggles did you overcame to get where you are today?
DGZ: My biggest struggle was actually pushing my blog live. (DCF: YASSSSSS, the struggle is real!). I got so caught up in the overall design, look, and feel, that I found myself hanging on to the small little details when I should’ve just launched and tweaked and edited as I went. I’ll always remind myself to take a step back and take a look at the bigger picture when working on a project. Don’t get so bogged down by the details that you forget that life is a learning experience and an experiment.
DCF: What is the early advice you didn’t listen to that you wish you had?
DGZ: Rome wasn’t built in day and success doesn’t come overnight. In today’s digital and real world, you only see the finished product and not the story about how it got there and it’s conception. I love reading and learning about how different projects come to life. It’s the piece that interests me the most. But, again, products and experience take time to grow and aren’t necessarily going to be a success overnight. Be patient. Be persistent. Success will come.
DCF: What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from it?
DGZ: My biggest failure is also my biggest weakness. I’m a “YES” man. In the middle of last year, I found myself saying “yes” to too projects and collaborations and in turn, my personal life suffered. I had to eventually learn and remind myself that it’s ok to say “No”. Your sanity isn’t worth compromising. It affects your creativity, energy, and motivation. It’s all about maintaining a healthy balance and learning to not say “yes” to every opportunity or request.
DCF: What was your proudest moment to date?
DGZ: Recently, I think my proudest moment was being featured on the #202Creates “We, the Creatives” website. It’s truly an honor to be recognized as a creative in the DC community. The District is such an amazing city with strong creative & cultural story to tell. I love living in a city where there are so many different kinds of storytellers sharing stories of success and struggles. It’s a close-knit community that grows stronger each day.
DCF: What are you Currently Conquering?
DGZ: There have been so many talented photographers that have reached out to me lately and I want the opportunity to work with all of them. To my previous point, the District is full of creative talent which includes photographers. In the coming months, I’m looking forward to launching a YouTube channel and hope to switch over from static content on my website to content that my followers can engage in! I’ll be hosting “live” video chats, Q&A’s, and other great ways to engage with my followers. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.
DCF: Let’s Get Social (Media)!!
Facebook: Diego Downtown
Tumblr: Diego Downtown