DapperBoi: Oral History

Vicky Pasche for DapperBoi was interviewed on November 3rd, 2017 by Kelly Reddy-Best via Zoom. This interview was 1 hour and 2 minutes. The oral history transcript reflects the history of the brand at the time of the interview.

Oral History Video

Oral History Transcript

PASCHE: I’m Vicky and I’m the founder and CEO of Dapper Boi. Yeah, so, I’m actually from a small town in upstate New York, twenty minutes north of the capital, Albany. I went to college up in Plattsburgh, New York. Actually, my first associates degree was in physical education and then it moved to mass media communication. From there, I was scared to death to move to the city. It was like such a scary place for us Upstaters, because it’s pretty much like another world over there, like another state. So, I had some family here in San Diego, California and  decided to just try it out for summer. I worked with my aunt and uncle at their little mail shop. It’s like a kind of like a Postal Annex type place. I just loved San Diego. I started looking for jobs in anything I could grab in the marketing world and I ended up at a casino here in San Diego called Viejas, and I worked here or there for eight years actually. But I actually don’t have a fashion background, it’s just that once I started becoming more comfortable with myself and who I was, and my style before , I used to wear – I had long hair and I would try to dress girly and it was never me and I hated it. I hated shopping. Then, this is kind of a long story but I’ll make it a shortened version. After I had my first  lesbian relationship here in San Diego, once it ended is then actually when I became comfortable with myself. I started going out into our gay scene here in San Diego and I chopped my hair and I was excited to shop in the men’s departments. I remember trying on my first pair of jeans in the men’s department and it was crazy because the jeans didn’t fit me actually. It’s just that it was unflattering, but that was the best I ever felt. I felt like that was myself and I could dress masculine, and that’s when I really started caring about how I looked and making sure my ties were matching. I had accessories and all kinds of things and I was just super excited about fashion at that point.

REDDY-BEST: So, you grew up in upstate New York and then moved to San Diego and then you studied physical education and…

PASCHE: Mass media communications. So, anything like radio, television, on camera performance, all that kind of stuff… advertising.

REDDY-BEST: Can you tell me a little bit about your work history?

PASCHE: So, when I moved to San Diego I started in marketing. So, I started as like the players club ambassador, signing people up for a club card, and then I kind of worked my way up through the casino. I handled the VIP guests and then I ended up upstairs behind the scenes. I was writing promotions and, until I was the promotions manager there. From there I ended up moving to another casino where I was the head of the marketing department  and then, even from there, I moved off on my own consulting with casinos in the marketing role. I was an extension of marketing teams for casinos.

REDDY-BEST: How would you describe your personal clothing style now?

PASCHE: Yeah, so I’m very casual. I guess this is the simple way, I’m a person that used to like to shop in the men’s department. I’m like, very societal-masculine in my appearance. My normal every day is actually shorts and a t-shirt – that’s why I love living in San Diego [laughs]. I wear button-ups, jeans, and t-shirts. That’s my everyday wear.

REDDY-BEST: Did your past shopping experiences or experiences related to your own personal style influence you to start Dapper Boi, or is anything back there that sort of prompted the idea?

PASCHE: Yeah, that’s a great question. So, that’s exactly how it started. So, from that very first time I tried on men’s jeans   I only shopped the men’s department from there on and once I started really caring, I’d say probably a year into that,  I realized that men’s clothing aren’t made to fit the curves of a woman’s body. So, I looked everywhere for a brand that is like what we have now, and I couldn’t find anything so that’s how Dapper Boi started. To be honest we actually started with suits because I was in the casino world and I had to dress professional and wear a lot of suits and we started designing our very first suit back in 2012, but at that time, actually there were quite a few suit companies coming out then, and so I kind of took a look at all my laundry list of items that I wanted to create and decided to go with everyday wear. So, actually that’s where the name Dapper Boi comes from, it was dapper, as in like suits, but then I realized that like dapper is kind of like a feeling. I think you could feel dapper if you just have the right fit and look and so that’s when we were like let’s keep it – it’s awesome. So, Dapper Boi, it’s kind of a play on those words. “Boi” is kind of playful, it could go for a man or a woman and have a little fun with it to. So, I think that’s where we were going with that. But yeah, so we looked back at our  laundry list of items that we wanted to create and jeans was the very first thing I tried on, so that’s where we began, with jeans.

REDDY-BEST: So, it was 2012 when you were starting to think about the company?

PASCHE: Yep, we were just messing with logos. I’d bought all the fabric, we were trying to find a pattern maker at that point to make the suit. We had talked to quite a few different people but they actually we had a few hang ups during that time too, people were just like not interested in helping so I really took a a step back and I waited at least another year before I started really thinking about Dapper Boi again. So it was probably 2013 when we decided, okay, let’s change up the game and then just thinking through ideas. I was literally just drawing designs myself and, again, I have no background in fashion at all, but I was thinking through ideas of what it could look like. It was finally in 2014, right before my wife and I got married, that we decided, “let’s do this, and start with jeans.” We both, just for months, started calling manufacturers, and the interesting part was that again, we were getting hung up on, left and right. People were like, “do you even know what you’re doing?” Like, “No, no, I don’t. I just have an idea and that’s it, and I’m looking for the right people to help us.”  The fall of 2014 was when a manufacturer called us back. We were excited that a manufacturer actually called us back and they said that we had a really interesting concept. Basically, we had just taken the notes from all of our favorite women’s jeans and all of our favorite men’s jeans, but we needed to combine them and, again, I don’t have that background in pattern making but this guy did. So, we went through five or six samples, which takes a really long time by the way. Every single one takes a really long time, especially when they have other productions that they’re working on.  So yeah, we finally got a  sample that we were really happy with that fit both men and women in 2015. It was early 2015, because we launched our Kickstarter in April of 2015.

REDDY-BEST: Did you officially become a business early 2015? 

PASCHE: So, we wanted to launch a Kickstarter first, to just make sure that our business was viable. We were trying to raise $18,000 for our first production, we raised over $26,000 and we were like, “okay, I think we have something. If we could do this just the two of us on our own, just by word of mouth, through Kickstarter, which we had no idea what we were doing there either, I think we have something. So, we decided to incorporate our business, it was  June of 2015. So, just a couple months or actually, yeah a month later because we, we  successfully made our funds at the end of May.  So, when considering the jeans, we were looking at  both the men’s and the women’s  sections. There’s really a big difference actually when it comes to just jeans, I mean there’s, there’s differences in every product is what we’re finding but with the jeans  I don’t know what it is about women’s pockets but they stop short. I don’t know why women can’t have functional pockets, but they don’t and that was something that we wanted incorporated in our jeans, so we have deep pockets in the front and the back. We decided to go with fabrics that compliment curves, any curves. Men who have curves too like they have the same issue like you always have to buy just a gigantic size just to be able to fit into it and then it’s unflattering and untrendy,  and not cool. So, that was something we want to do. We started with the slim-straight style, that I feel like really compliments a variety of body types and, of course, eventually we moved onto different styles, but that was what we decided to start with. Another thing is that we just made room for hips and a booty. That was really important to us because I’ve  definitely got one [laughs] and I really based it on what I needed [laughs]. But yeah, those were key things, even the zipper, honestly, like our crotch length, is kind of like a happy medium between the men’s and women’s jeans. For women’s jeans, the zippers are really short  and we just made it a happy medium between men’s and women’s. So those are a couple of details in the jeans that we were excited about, also function. So, everyone has a smart phone and there is also something that people refer to as a coin pocket in jeans that is a tiny pocket that is within the big pocket, so we made that functional and we  made it fit a large smartphone. You can fit IPhone 7 Plus in one of those pockets, so that’s something we  push out there too, to the world, because it’s pretty cool.

REDDY-BEST: How do people buy  your product, is it in stores? Tell me a little bit about how that works.

PASCHE: So, we are all online, we’re an e-commerce site. That was an interesting process too, to find how were we going to make a website. We, again, didn’t really have much money to start, because we wanted to invest in as much additional jeans as possible from our first production, so that we could actually have something to sell when the jeans actually came in. So, we found a Shopify. It’s a great  easy site to use and we were able to just plug in images and have a really nice-looking inexpensive site without having developers. That’s something we started and, again, we started with just our jeans and t-shirts and that’s all we had on our site, and we put it out to the world and we were like, “Okay we are live, now what?” It was interesting. We relied a lot on social media at that point, to get started. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are still what we use, to this day.

REDDY-BEST: Yeah, I really I like your website. I think it’s great [laughs]. So then, you began with jeans, would you say the cornerstone of your brand would be jeans? I’m thinking about those stupid pockets! I generally wear women’s clothes and I’m always like, “Gosh, I just would like something to put my phone in.”

PASCHE: Right, yeah! Like, why do you have to put it even in your back pocket. Like you always have to sit on your phone, it’s ridiculous [laughs].

REDDY-BEST: I’m like, “Ah, I’m going to break it.”  Are there any other products that you added and how did you add them? Tell me about that and what that was like?

PASCHE: Sure. Actually, once we had the jean sample approved, even before we launched Kickstarter, button-ups was the next thing on my list. We had actually been working on that just as long, before we launch that button-up shirt. People didn’t know that was something we were working on, too. That took a long time, but that’s something that was always the same problem for me, too. When I walked into the men’s department, I tried out a button-up shirt. I felt awesome, but I always had to buy a huge size, just to fit my hips, but it wouldn’t fit my shoulders. That was the only way it would fit, but it looked ridiculous so, we made a shirt that accommodates hips on the bottom, but a little bit more relaxed in the waist, so that it’s just flowing nice shirt. We also have — I can show you right now my shirt — we have these  snaps that hide the chest gap. Sometimes even for men, it’s stretched at that point here, too, where you have a gap and you can see right in to the bust line. So, we actually added three snaps that go down and they’re hidden behind the button placket so that you can’t see into the shirt. That’s something that was a really big selling point for us, too, and then every shirt we’ve come out with, we always try to change it up, based on feedback from our customers, because we know we’re not perfect, and we’re still a start-up. Another thing we added — I have a one of our latest button-up shirts here that we just recently got in. It’s a short-sleeved shirt, a short sleeve button-up, it’s hard to see I know, I’m sorry.  It has the snaps, as well, but we also added a simple button hole that goes right next to the pocket right here, and that is the sunglass slit. I don’t know how many pairs of glasses I’ve lost by having them right here and hanging down. I hate that, so we added the little slit, and it fits perfectly in there and it doesn’t move. Those are the little things we like to think through with our brand, those little functional details that I get all excited about. Like, I totally nerd out. [laughs].

REDDY-BEST:  I’m going to buy a shirt [laughs]. I need all of these things [laughs].

PASCHE: Yeah, that’s awesome.

REDDY-BEST: So just to make sure,  jeans, t- shirts, and the button-up shirt were really important to you, as were these other little details are unique to the product. Are there any other types of products beyond those items?

PASCHE: Yeah, definitely. We have a lot of different products. We have like  t-shirts, sweatshirts…. Oh, a huge one is actually one that we started with our jeans and our Kickstarter campaign. We actually copyrighted this, “I’m not a boy.” So, we have these “I’m not a boy” hats and “I’m not a boy” shirts and they went crazy for them. It was supposed to be a light-hearted kind of thing, and, again, I based it off of my own personal story. I get that all the time, when I go to the grocery store. When I walk into the women’s restroom, I get the double glances. I get the “Hey, you’re not supposed to be in here,” and for the most part, I’ve been lucky in the fact that people usually feel bad when they say that, and then it makes me feel bad because I’m like, “It’s okay, I’m okay with it. Don’t worry.”  So, that was the premise behind the “I’m not a boy.” I put on that hat, and I’m like, “Hey it’s all good. Okay, like, we’re human beings that make mistakes and it’s fine.” Others are not so lucky and I know that we’ve had a lot of people share their stories and some people take the hat very  seriously and they wear that with pride, actually, when they’re going to the restroom. That’s something that they can easily point out without having to explain anything. They’re like, “Listen, I’m not a boy. I’m allowed to be here.” So, we’ve gotten a lot of emails and stories from people thanking us for our t-shirt that says the same thing. Yeah, that’s something we’re actually really proud of, and we decided to  look into it a little bit further with other products.

REDDY-BEST:  Were there any stories that stick out  that anyone emailed you? Is there anything like that that comes to your mind, something that was really powerful and moving, that someone had called to thank you about? Is there any specific story that sticks out?

PASCHE: Yeah, I have two stories actually. One is from a mother that emailed us and it was from her little girl, she was eleven years-old. We’ve actually featured them quite a few times on our Facebook now. She told us her daughter dresses like a boy and has short hair and when she goes to school, she is scared, and gets bullied, and because of, not only the hat — of course she wanted the hat and she wore that with pride — but, just having our brand out there, in general, for her, she just knew that there’s people out there like her, and especially knew that there were people to look up to. We’re not necessarily a kid brand, but she follows us now on Facebook and when we posted her picture, the love that outpoured from the story that I posted with her picture was like, “Stay strong.” All these people were reaching out. It really was a just a community reaching out to her and her mom was just overjoyed. She told us that that meant the world to her, so  later I see orders coming in from her — the little girl now — and she gets our like, “extra, extra small” shirts and it’s adorable. I love it. It was definitely moving and it just let my wife and I know that we’re doing something good here. It feels amazing. Another story was in regard to our jeans and just our brand, in general. After our Kickstarter campaign, someone had actually said that their brother was suicidal, and when she showed him our brand, it was again the same kind of feeling. It is so crazy to me that we can make that impact because I feel so small, I guess. He felt like he could relate and that there were other people and that he wasn’t alone. I think that’s the most amazing thing right there, that people don’t feel alone. There are people, just like everybody else out there. I didn’t expect that at all.

REDDY-BEST: Do you have any wish lists for expanding current offerings, or is there anything you can share what you be interested in moving into for expanding products or looking at different types of things?

PASCHE: No, yeah definitely. We’re really excited. We have a big offering we’ve been working on, a lot of stuff here, and I’m really excited to launch each item. Every item, to me, is like, “I need it, so I know there has to be people that need it.” Well, I can kind of step back here. Over the summer we launched a bathing suit that was actually our most successful campaign that we’ve ever launched. It’s very simple when it comes to the fashion part of it. All I was looking for was a tank, I noticed that myself, when I was looking for swimwear. I used to only wear like, a tank top, a sports bra, and some board shorts, and those were not made to go swimming in. I always had to ring them out and they’d dry — in the video we say, “dries crispy.”  They’re just not made for swimming. So, we took that basic concept, because I noticed that every pool I would go to that there were people wearing the same outfit as me, with the same issue. So, we really made a tank top in that form because, again, if I go to the women’s section I would find like a bikini or a tankini and those were not things that I would want to wear, I felt awkward in those things. I’m not ready to just wear a sports bra. I’m bigger, and it’s just not comfortable for me. So, we really made a simple tank that made of bathing suit material and board shorts and a sports bra. They were all made to be bathing-suit-ready. That went huge. Just those simple pieces right there, made such a huge difference and we, again, had the emails pouring in with pictures from people wearing their Dapper Boi bathing suit. You can see how proud they were and that they weren’t scared to go to the pool anymore. So that was something we were really excited about and we plan on kind of morphing next year a little bit further, based on that feedback. I’m really excited about that, too. As for other products, I’m going to launch some more button-ups, definitely. We’ve definitely wanted to tailor it again to the feedback we’ve received. Maybe shorten our sleeves a little bit, they’re a little bit long. We’ve based a lot of it on a men’s shirt, so bringing in the shoulders a little bit. Also, shortening it a little bit so there’s not so much flare out on the bottom, because that looks feminine to a lot of people too, so those are the little tweaks we’re making. I’m really excited about that. I’m also working on some jackets and I won’t give away too much more, but the two specific jackets I’m really excited about too. They are very casual wear. Again, we’re sticking with casual, but sometimes a little business casual is where we’re moving to. I’m excited to see how people react to that, too. So yeah, we’ve got a lot of stuff coming in the next few months. Actually, I’m really stoked!

REDDY-BEST: So, you talked a lot about design process going from concept to final product. Is there anything else to add, and I feel like I have a good grasp on like how you think through new ideas,  about your experience wearing swimsuits? As well as the experience like, with the sunglasses? Is there anything else to add, in regards to finding inspiration for garments, or aesthetic or detail inspiration? Is there anything else that you would add to that?

PASCHE: Yeah, well, we’re starting with the basics. We’ve been in business for two years now, but I still consider us a start-up with starting with the basics. So, my most important thing, right now, is getting the fit accurate and then from there, we’ll move into more detail, like fun designs, patterns, things like that, but for the most part we really use, a premium stock fabric. Stretch is always important in all of our pieces to fit a wide range of body styles.  From there, what I’m really excited about — and it’s going to be the biggest challenge ever — is that I don’t want to base our clothing on gender. It’s going to be based on body style alone. Right now, our jeans fit men and women great, but there’s other styles I can’t wait to launch: skinny jeans, super skinnies, relaxed fit — things like that. However, with our button-up shirts for example, as I mentioned, they have a very wide bottom to make room for hips, and for a lot of people, like myself, you can’t even tell the flare is there, because I have those hips that cover it. With some people it doesn’t work,  and it’s not a style for everyone, so we’re really excited to take  this same button-up shirt, whatever color it is, and offer a variety of body styles in that. So, when you come to our site, you can choose  the model that your body is most similar to, and then you’ll be able to have that same shirt. So, again, it’s not based on gender and that’s where we’re excited to go. I think there’s a really big need for it: a gender-neutral fashion. It doesn’t really exist. I mean it does, but it’s hard to find. It’s not mainstream, that’s for sure, so I would love to be a pioneer in that, and I’m going to be pushing and pushing and pushing as far as I can, to get the help to get us there.  Also, I think in terms of the e-commerce world, I don’t plan on having a store front, that’s not a dream of mine, but I want to take the next step in virtual reality and have a real shopping experience in the online world. That way we are truly accessible to everyone. That’s something that’s in the works as well.

REDDY-BEST: Do you produce locally? How and where does production take place?

PASCHE: Sure.  So, our jeans right now are currently being made in Los Angeles. Our bathing suits are made in Colombia and our button-ups are made in China. I know that China has a bad rap when it comes to that. Usually a lot of people are like, “Oh China,” but we work with a manufacturer that’s actually based in San Mateo, California and they have their own factories in China because of that bad rap, and the whole premise of their business is based on ethical manufacturing. We’re encouraged to go there, and they have different standards than most Chinese facilities. Those were the questions I was asking him, too, when I was like, “Oh China [laughs],” and he’s kind of changed my mind through working with them, in particular, on this. That’s something that I’m proud of, actually.

REDDY-BEST: So, you have production in different locations? What was it like looking into the backgrounds?

PASCHE: Yeah, it’s really hard. When we first started I wanted everything U.S. made and, to be honest, it’s really hard for a start-up. It’s really hard. Minimums come into play and the prices are astronomical — we would never be able to survive. This was the way to do this, and it was kind of a happy medium when we met this particular manufacturer because they were half here and half there. They have people that are constantly overseeing the operations from here. So that kind of made me feel a little bit better and, of course, seeing the prices were a little bit better was better too. We also still choose, even though it’s cheaper than the United States, premium fabrics because something that is really important when it comes to fitting body styles, is getting that particular soft, stretch fabric. So, we still get the premium products, but we’re able to get it at better pricing.

REDDY-BEST: Yeah, I think a lot of people don’t understand the cost to produce here. It’s a lot.

PASCHE: Well, to speak on that, actually, that’s one of the challenges. I know this is one of the questions you had asked, like,  “What’s one of our challenges right now?’ and it is our pricing. Our jeans, we retail them at $120, and, to a lot of people, that’s a tough pill to swallow. So, we had to think through a different business model. So, I can kind of back track into that a little bit. So, after we launched our Kickstarter campaign, we got our jeans four months later, and we started shipping them out to everyone. Great. People were loving ’em. Awesome. Then, we sold out of the rest of the jeans that we were able to order, and then we had nothing, and we had no money to invest into other productions and we were screwed. We didn’t know what we were going to do, and people again were like… We hear all the time,  “You guys are expensive,” “expensive.” I’m sure a lot of other small brands like ours are saying are saying the same exact thing. We just can’t compete with Target, Walmart, Forever 21 —  any of those brands, because, again, our minimum quantities are — I’m lucky if I get 300 of one shirt and that’s the minimum. So, I’m getting the highest price point from a manufacturer then, and it’s not easy when you’re on social media and people are like, “You’re expensive,” and I can’t… I feel defensive, and I take things very personally, so when I’m responding or not responding to something like that, I have to really think that through and consider what they [customer] can relate to and understand. That has been the most challenging. So, anyway, we had to come up with a solution. What we did was —and this is what works — we went back to the basics. We thought about Kickstarter and when we launched it, and the moment that my wife and I had during that time period and the community coming in and how they were able to get it at a special price point. We were like, “Hmm, well maybe that’s something. What if we moved this to our own website and we do kind of like Kickstarter like campaigns and but still be able get in on the right price, and then eventually sell at retail, because we can’t stay at wholesale price for our lives, we won’t ever be able to grow.” So, what we do is: we launch every product, we try to have, every other month, at least  one product we launch at wholesale price, so like, half of retail, for a three-week time period, just to see if people are interested. We have a funding goal to raise, right? So, if we successfully raise the funds needed for production we go to production and our customers get the product within six to ten weeks. If we don’t raise the goal,  we don’t make the production, and everybody gets their money back. So, that was like how we can do it and be okay. They can get it at  that special price for the three weeks only, so that’s kind of incentivizing them to say, “Okay, I want to get it on a special price.” So far we’ve successfully raised… There’s only one campaign we haven’t funded and that’s great, like our business has been amazing this past year, the best we’ve ever been and growing quickly. And so that’s how we’re able to produce so many products, is that we’re doing this campaigns every month, where we’re just like  putting them out there and seeing if people like them and then we invest a little bit over  what people order from us and then we sell it at full retail price and so that way we have inventory constantly, so people are buying our in stock stuff at retail price but we also have that special pricing at the very beginning. So, I think that people are really looking out for what are we going to come out with next, how can I get it at that special price, and yeah, it’s been, it’s been amazing actually.

REDDY-BEST:  There was one thing that I ??? Oh, can you talk about the  the prices of the, so you said jeans are a hundred and twenty, can you just tell me about sort of the price points of others, of other  products. 

PASCHE: Yeah, sure. So our jeans again, so we when launched the jeans, when we launch a new pair of like let’s say black jeans that we just launched, like we’ll launch them for a three week time period at $79 dollars and then if we successfully fund the campaign and they come in, once they get here we move them to $120, and then,  even though we’ll say $150 and I’m scared of $150 and so I go down to $120 every time, like that’s what happens [laughs]. I don’t know, it’s, it’s scary the pricing situation but  our button-up shirts we launch them always at $39  we usually sell them retail  anywhere between I go up and down with sales constantly because again that’s my just brain of like it’s too much we can’t,  between $58 and $68 retail. T-shirts and hats we do like usually like $24 – $95.

REDDY-BEST: You showed a  a shirt and then do you have possibly any jeans that you could talk through or any other products that you want to ????

PASCHE: Definitely, I brought a pair — well, I have a pair of black jeans here and I don’t know, it’s really hard to see. So, let me see if this helps at all, if I turn off these lights.

REDDY-BEST: I can see the shirt pretty well.

PASCHE: Okay, well these are a black pair of jeans so some of the details here, can you see that? The two pockets here, so, this is where we have, the smartphone pocket, right here. So that separates your keys from your wallet, from whatever fits, but they all have like a super stretch to ’em, so they always feel almost like sweatpants and that’s the best part. [laughs]. Yeah, and then we just have our like our faux suede patches and I don’t know how else to show you this, but yeah, just a slim straight pair of jeans.

REDDY-BEST: Cool yeah, no, the phone going in was great. Really nice! So, are trends important to consider  in your brand? Do you look to those, or how does that kind of come into play?

PASCHE: Yeah sure, I mean I’m always looking, before I even started this business, I did like to shop in the men’s department, so I still kind of wander through and I’m like, “Oh what looks cool?” I’ll still buy different products and be like, “How can we morph something like this into our fit or but, again, we’re really starting with this basics. A lot of the time, what will happen is, our manufacturer will send us a bunch of swatches and so right now we’re trying to perfect the button-up. So, I know that right now I’m on that mission, and I’ll just be like, “Okay, let’s make six of those in whatever fabrics that you have available,” because a lot of the time we have to choose stock fabric. When you have to design something from scratch and it just takes a lot of time, so if I need a quick turnaround for a crowdfunding campaign  I’ll see what they have available and in the most fabric they have available and I’ll give it a shot as long as it has some stretch to it and it looks nice. So, again, we’re starting with the basics right now, and then we’ll eventually go into some fun designs.

REDDY-BEST: Are there any style icons or celebrities or artists that may come into play for inspiration, or as muses, or anything like that?

PASCHE:  It’s a tough one. I actually don’t have anyone in particular. I look at a lot of trendy men, actually, and I can’t even pinpoint a particular one. I follow a bunch on my Instagram and I see all kinds of different styles. Even sometimes, this is cheesy but I’ll have my wife stop, and we’ll be watching The Voice, looking at Adam Levine, for example, this is just one I can think of, and be like, “Oh that’s a cool shirt, pause that,” and I’d take a picture. I’m like, “Okay, what if we made this jacket, or whatever it is?” So, there’s no one in particular that we look to, it’s just whatever I see, I get like a kid about, pretty much [laughs].

REDDY-BEST: So, would you say, you just kind of looking at your Instagram and just sort of generally get inspiration from what you’re taking in every day? You’re always sort of thinking and looking and it might even be like a detail on something really small that you might like?

PASCHE: Right.

REDDY-BEST: In the back of your brain [laughs].

PASCHE: Yeah, or even like, my wife has super trendy brothers and I’m always looking at what they’re looking at next. I really just think through like, “Well what can we make from what we have into something like that?”  It really changes every day, but I think I’ve been focused. I have a pretty specific list that I’ve been working on. So, I’ve been kind of focused on that, but when it comes to like, colors and what’s “in” for the season, I do pay attention to that, as well.

REDDY-BEST: The other thing I wanted to ask, did you and your wife start it together or were there other folks involved or is there anything else about that?

PASCHE: Yeah, no. It was just my wife and I starting the jeans process. She was the one making our media list when we very first started, for our Kickstarter for who could we reach out to, that might promote our stuff. We did this whole process together, going and trying on jeans, I had her try on a million pairs of jeans, too, and take pictures of the men’s and women’s jeans. It’s been an amazing process being able to do that with her, for sure.

REDDY-BEST: So, the next couple of questions are about customers. If you were going to describe your customer base, how would you describe who you look to target, or who you do target?

PASCHE: Yeah, I would say, mostly where we started really is the androgynous woman, so someone like myself, that likes to shop in the men’s department. Then, from there, I would say we’re really trying to not categorize ourselves too much, because what I was finding is that there are actually quite a few men out there that are very interested in our brand and really like the fit of our jeans, that maybe they weren’t tended to either. Like, a plus sized man — they don’t have a lot of options when it comes to trendy apparel, they have go to the big and tall section, and it’s  there’s not the best options there sometimes. So, we’re finding that too, so I haven’t been wanting to limit myself, because, to be honest, we got a lot of heterosexual males coming to me saying, “Oh, is that a lesbian brand?”  Like, because of who we were, initially targeting. I’m like, “Not at all!” I think that’s where I started to take a step back, and that I want to think about everybody, and again, based on body-type, not on gender or sexual orientation.

REDDY-BEST: Do you feel like you’re sort of shifting promotionally or changing the folks that you might feature in advertisements? Can you talk a little bit about that?

PASCHE: Yeah, and that’s where I’m like, “I’m having trouble here, because I never want to forget our initial audience, and because they have the least amount of options available I think.” So, it’s, that’s been a real challenge. Probably the most challenging aspect is like, “Who do we target, how do we target, and how do we do that sensitively too?” So, our models, right now, who we selected were really kind of friends of ours, who had the same challenges as me. Again, we don’t have a lot of money to spend, so they were anybody we could find to volunteer, initially. So, right now, we actually take a very light-hearted approach to our advertising. We do a lot of fun videos with our models like, that’s something, actually, I think we’ve been doing well. We’re starting to be known for our videos. If you haven’t, definitely check out our Facebook videos. I have them doing dances and me including like, R&B style like, Boys II Men, running around a store with the “I’m not a boy” shirt and dancing. I think a lot of people look forward to seeing those, and not taking ourselves too seriously is something that’s really important. I want to just have fun in life,  and live this life  in that way. So, the models we choose have a lot of fun, they’re kind of goofy and people love ‘em and that’s where we’ve been going. But  to answer your question, sorry I totally went on a tangent here. [laughs].  Right now, we’re focusing on androgynous women, and we’re really trying to think through how we’re going to really start targeting men, feminine women, and everyone else just based on body type.

REDDY-BEST: How do folks, or customers, find out about the brand? What’s the main social media forum?

PASCHE: Actually, our biggest success comes from Facebook — that’s where everybody has come from. 95% of our customers are coming from Facebook, so that is actually where we put all of our advertising money at this time and what works best, because we’re able to really actually target our audience through there,v pretty specifically. It’s been pretty awesome. But again, those videos have been key. Videos are key on Facebook and that’s been something that’s really been driving that traffic to our site, and it really just makes our brand really relatable and likeable.

REDDY-BEST: When customers inquire, who are they interacting with? Is it you and your wife? If  they email you or contact you or message you through Facebook, is it you two who’s responding?

PASCHE: Yep, oh yeah. It’s the two of us, [laughs]. We just hired our first part-time employee, and it’s actually one of our models, Celeste, and  people love her. So, she’s been also responding now. So, we come in, I mean, we’re here. I come to the office multiple times throughout the day. I meet Celeste here because she’s just part-time at night time. I work from home. I think I eat, sleep, and breathe Dapper Boi, literally, and I love it. I love it, too.

REDDY-BEST: So, you talked a little bit about the types of positive feedback  related to your brand like the  the mom  ??? the hat but any other  positive feedback  that you get for your brand ?? other avenues that might be important ??

PASCHE: Yeah, I really think it’s just  just being relatable. People being able to feel comfortable, fit in,  feeling like they have a community to go to,  our Facebook followers, we see a lot of the same people over and over again  commenting on stuff, and I think they’re even becoming friends and it’s just, that’s not what was the purpose but that’s what’s happening and I, I love that and that we can   put up a Facebook Live and that’s been amazing too, all the comments that people send us like wow, I feel the same or like where can I get that or  like it’s that’s just been awesome. So, I think it’s just the being relatable and  having a community.

REDDY-BEST: Do you ever do anything to sort of promote community engagement? Do you ever do anything to think about creating community for folks?

PASCHE: Right now, we have our social media. We’ll have promotions on social media for special holidays. Like, National Coming Out Day was one thing that we did. Just those for talking. Like, we each went on and so did each one of our models and told our stories and how we feel and things like that. We do that with the community. As for community relations, that’s something I really want to focus on locally, here in San Diego, for next year. I realized I’ve been so  wrapped up and just trying to survive the brand, but now that we’re starting to become a little bit more stable, that’s something that’s super important to me. I know that San Diego specifically has a LGBT group for teens looking for assistance, help for homelessness and that’s something I’ve been really thinking about and hoping to incorporate. Even if we just go and help with our whole team, with the models and everything, just go and help them sometime next year. So, that’s definitely the plan. I just have to really think that one through, and where we want to focus our efforts, because there’s just so many different avenues we could go down, but I think starting with the youth would be amazing.

REDDY-BEST: Do you ever get negative feedback from folks inside or outside the LGBT community?

PASCHE: Sure. Yes. On our Facebook, I mean, there’s a lot of things we have to filter out. There’s a lot of people that don’t know anything about the brand and will say negative comments. They’ll say some pretty horrible things and we’ll just delete them out. Before, I used to get so upset and I would want to answer everything back, but I think just banning these users, and doing that right now is what we should be doing. Overall, we’ve had a really just positive experience, the only criticism is, again, the pricing, but that’s something we experience even from within our community. Maybe I’ll make a video someday, or they can follow us as we’re making this brand. I was thinking of doing something like that to just show like what goes into making a brand happen, but that’s been pretty much it, for the most part.

REDDY-BEST: Is there anything else about funding your Kickstarter that would be important to know about, or that you could share about the history that would be important?

PASCHE: I don’t think so, actually. I think I’ve pretty much nailed that one.

REDDY-BEST: My next question is about sustainability and ethical business models. I feel like you talked a lot about that with the factory, is there anything else to add, in that sense, about how you think about sustainability or ethics?

PASCHE: No, I think we’re good on that too. Yeah.

REDDY-BEST: What would you describe as what you feel is the most successful for your brand, so far? If you think about your brand and what you think about success, after two years in business, what do you feel is the most successful part?

PASCHE: Yeah, I think there’s a lot of, a lot of pieces that I think about. 1) That we’re in year two, right now. After year one, I thought that we were going to go out of business. I was so scared and I didn’t know what I was going to do —  go back to casinos? I don’t know, but  I think, once we thought about this crowd funding model, and really thought about our consumer price points,  and how we were going to be able to invest in other productions without having investors. Then being able to survive that, with the solution of crowd funding that we created, that’s a success in itself, for sure. Our revenue has changed drastically in one year and so I know we’re making the right moves and that, in itself, just feels amazing, and I can’t wait to continue with this same kind of business model, with little tweaks, as we’re learning along the way.

REDDY-BEST: And then what are you most proud of or what’s the thing that comes to mind when I ask you like what when you think about the entire journey right from like day one, initial thought in the mind of like Dapper Boi to like where you are now. If you could like say like what, what do you feel most proud of so far. 

PASCHE: Yeah, I think just, what I’m most proud of, is being able to work with my wife, and  not knowing this fashion world, and figuring it out together. We haven’t figured it out, but every single day, literally, I am learning so much. It’s just insane to think about where we came from, and where we are now, and I’m so excited about the future and the ideas that we have, and just to see how two people, really — and now — the third part-time person — to see what we can do with just a little will. That’s really it, I just love this life that we are creating on our own, not based on society and shuffling papers from 9 to 5. I want to make this our own reality, and I’m so excited that we are making it happen and just  going against all the naysayers that didn’t think that we could do it.

REDDY-BEST: And then, were there any aspects of starting your brand that surprised you, or what things are..

PASCHE: That’s a tough one. Surprising. Actually, everything has surprised me to be honest [laughs]. I really think this goes with, right back with what I just said, with just  learning. Everyday seems like a surprise and I’m like, “Oh, I did that wrong. I have to re-do it, and not give up and I guess I’m surprised at myself for not giving up, because I know there were so many times where I wanted to throw in the towel, but there’s something in me. I just have a true love for our brand and what we’re doing and our customers and I just love it so much. it’s like the craziest love-hate relationship I could ever imagine, but the love surpasses it, so much that. It just makes me happy, and I’m so excited to be able to do this every single day.

REDDY-BEST: You had mentioned some struggles before, about maybe price-point or communicating price-point, but is there anything else, that you would add about some of the struggles from beginning. I feel like maybe you may have talked about it, but is there anything else you would add to that?

PASCHE: I guess it’s really about finding that right niche, and how to vocalize that sensitively and really moving to that place where we’re not based on gender or sexual orientation. That’s been a big challenge, and we’ll even get it from our own community. Yes, we are a lesbian-owned brand, but we accept all that and I never want to categorize us, and yeah, in the beginning, we might have been that brand, but I want to move away from that as much as possible and really just truly accept everyone. Again, what I was just going to say is that everyone, even in our own community, they say, “Oh, you guys say men and women — what about the non-binary people?”  It kind of upsets me, that comment, because, “Yeah, why didn’t I think of that?” But no wait, we’re not categorizing people and that’s where I want to go. So we just have to do a better job communicating that, and so that’s been a challenge, and something I’m thinking of constantly. So, you’ll see that morphing soon, as well, as we are able to grow.

REDDY-BEST: Is there anything else in particular, in relation to the history and how it started, related to your story, or your wife’s story, or about the brand that would be important? Is anything else related to the timelines or your motivations?

PASCHE: Yeah, I guess another motivation for us, right now, is — this is some big news — that my wife is pregnant! We are pregnant and we’re going to have twins [laughs]. So,   we’re going to be doing this with our family, for our family. This business! Again, I use the word “excited,” but I can’t wait, and we just found out this weekend. It’s going to be  two girls. So, we’re going to be a house full of estrogen, for sure. Yeah, that’s going to be happening in April, so that’ll be interesting. The dynamic is, with as much passion I have with this business,  trying to level it up with a new passion that’s coming and that’s our family that we’re going to be growing. Yeah, I can’t wait.

REDDY-BEST: Oh, congratulations! That’s so exciting! [laughs]. Oh my gosh, twins.

PASCHE: Yeah, we are so stoked! I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it!

REDDY-BEST: That’s so exciting! I’m so happy for your both! [laughs].

PASCHE: Yes, thank you! [laughs]. My wife’s eating a banana, she eats all the time. [laughs]. And I love it because I’m gaining with her. [laughs].

REDDY-BEST: Yeah, so then I can stop recording, if that’s okay.

PASCHE: Yeah, that’s okay. Good, perfect.


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21st Century Queer Fashion Brands Copyright © 2020 by Kelly L. Reddy-Best & Dana Goodin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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