Dani Diarbakerly is a self taught screenprinter and graphic designer. In 2018, Dani was hired to print at Off-White Nike activation and was included in Hypebeast printing with Virgil Abloh. Diarbakerly was recognized as a Rising Star in Screenprinting in Screenprinting Magazine’s 2022 edition.
Her company, KingPro would like to be known as a leader in high-end screenprinting, embroidery and custom products. They make custom products for brands, companies, influencers and artists in music. KingPro is an expert in personal branding; Diarbakerly has worked with dozens of creatives and artists to establish their image including Diplo, Chronixx, and more.
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Table of Contents
Thank you for joining us today! Let’s start off with a little introduction. Please introduce yourself to our readers by sharing your story.
Dani Diarbakerly: Dani Diarbakerly, owner and founder of King Production, also known as KingPro. We offer screen printing, design embroidery, and other custom products.
2020-2021 was unlike any other year. What is your favorite item you’ve bought in the past months and why?
Dani Diarbakerly: I recently purchased some new equipment for my darkroom. I’m pretty excited about this because it will increase our overall efficiency here at KingPro.
Life is like a box of chocolates…What unexpected surprises did life grant you that contributed to your success?
Dani Diarbakerly: That’s a great question. In my case, I know several failures and poor decisions early on contributed to my current success. It seems like the hardest times often teach us the greatest lessons. Those mistakes taught me what not to do, and now I have confidence in my decisions going forward.
Tell us about the job. Is there any exciting project you’re currently working on?
Dani Diarbakerly: You’ve caught me right on the cusp of the event season. That fun time of year when everyone throws parties, hosts live music, and tours runs from Memorial Day to the end of summer. People are just now beginning to place orders for the custom apparel that will make those activities extra special. This year’s event season is particularly exciting because that part of the business has been missing for the past couple of years due to the pandemic.
Sir Richard Branson famously stated that “Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” As a CEO/leader how do you feel about this philosophy and if you agree with it, how do you implement that in your company? Conversely, if you disagree, explain why and how do you do things differently?
Dani Diarbakerly: I agree one hundred percent with that statement. My employees are at the heart of my business. Now, more than ever, it’s key to make sure that our employees are happy and fulfilled. Employers are developing an even deeper understanding of what it means to show compassion and understanding for our employees as fellow human beings. We are learning to help them find fulfillment in their workplace and work-life balance. Boundaries are also critical. I’ve employed people for over ten years, and I know you can get into situations where you become too friendly with your employees. There is an appropriate balance, but we need to make sure our employees are happy, listen to their concerns, offer compassion as they go through difficult times, and support them as they grow.
According to a breakthrough study conducted by Weber Shandwick, leaders worldwide believe that 45% of a business’ market value is dependent on a CEO’s branding and reputation. We would love to know your thoughts about this. How important are CEO’s personal branding and reputation for the business itself?
Dani Diarbakerly: That is an incredibly revealing statistic. I have found that, as a brand, I’m always representing the products and services I offer. Whether I’m on a date, at a restaurant with friends, or in the office, I’m always KingPro. I used to hate having my meal interrupted by someone placing an order for shirts at my table, but I came to realize that you can’t turn off the business any more than you can turn off who you are. You know, I think that a lot of business owners probably struggle with this internally, whether they show it on the outside or not. Sometimes, I just want to be alone on a date at a restaurant without talking about T-shirts. This is the life I’ve chosen, though, and I’ve grown accustomed to it over time. It doesn’t bother me anymore.
Do you have a specific anecdote that comes to mind or a news story that helped you realize how critical it is to be mindful of branding and reputation, on a personal or company level? Please share how it “opened your eyes”
Dani Diarbakerly: The “Me Too” Movement comes to mind. We all saw how poor personal decisions on or off the clock impacted so many people’s careers. One lapse in judgment can ruin a person’s entire career. That movement brought home how crucial it is to always be the person that you want to be.
Do you have a set of principles and strategic actions that you and your management team abide by to maintain a good online reputation and positioning? What are they and how effective have they been?
Dani Diarbakerly: Of course, I’m glad you asked about that. We have a very specific brand voice and mission when it comes to our social media posts and online communications. The voice of the company is personal, professional, authentic, and reflects who we are as a youthful, streetwear-inspired startup. In addition to social media, I also discuss community email with all my employees ensuring all company communication is professional.
The COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down, in many cases, it pushed the employees and the consumers to critical stress points. How did you lead your team through these difficult times and maintain a good reputation?
Dani Diarbakerly: The key to surviving the pandemic was maintaining self-control and understanding the climate. In our case, we initially lost all of our customers. In custom apparel, our clients come to us for marketing. They’re in business, and our apparel enables them to promote themselves. Suddenly, the pandemic made it inappropriate to promote yourself, and our sales vanished overnight. As an entrepreneur, my first instinct was to make a plan and forge ahead, but ultimately, I made the decision to respect the climate and wait it out.
The COVID pandemic raised a lot of polarizing politically charged issues. According to ‘The Harris Poll’, 75% of Americans said that they would avoid taking a position on political issues if they were CEOs. We would love to know your thoughts about this. Is it better to take a political position or to avoid it completely When it comes to being a great CEO/Leader, do you have one name that comes to mind, please share with us how they influence the CEO you are today? What lessons did they teach you over the years?
Dani Diarbakerly: Personally, I have avoided using my position to make a political statement, but I’m not sure that is the most respectable thing to do. I admire those people who took a stand and didn’t hold back their thoughts despite how the majority felt.
I’m an enormous fan of Sofia Amorosa. She is the founder of Nasty Gal and now has her Girl Boss brands. Currently, she is in the e-commerce space offering educational classes on how to run a business. She had some public failures but has bounced back stronger than ever. You’ve got to admire that!
You have been very generous with your time and knowledge. Our readers would also love to know, What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? and what is the advice you give the most often to new team members?
Dani Diarbakerly: I’d say the best piece of advice I ever received was, “Think less, do more.” A friend spoke these words of wisdom to me as I was struggling to find direction for myself and my business. He meant that if I could break free of the fears that were paralyzing me and start moving, everything would fall into place. That is exactly what happened. I try to encourage that line of thinking among my team members. They know that their effort will be rewarded if they work hard and do their best. I wholeheartedly believe that for myself as a business owner, and for them as my employees.
What is one key thing you want to achieve at this moment, and what do you need to overcome to reach your goal?
Dani Diarbakerly: The key project I am working on at this moment is building a new shop for my business. Before I can accomplish this, I need more time and additional funding. I know those things will come with time.
Thank you so much for your time but before we say goodbye, we do have one more unusual question. If you ask yourself any question what would it be and how would you answer it?
Dani Diarbakerly: That is a fun way to wrap up an interview! Well, I suppose the first question that comes to mind is, “Why are you doing this?” The answer is, “Because I love it!”
Jed Morley, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Dani Diarbakerly for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Dani Diarbakerly or her company, you can do it through her – Instagram
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