That Dapper Chap
George and Celeste are just part of a 5 person team from the incredible start up company, That Dapper Chap. Proudly Melbournian inside and out, these bow ties are all handmade and created locally by their incredibly passionate and inspirational team of dreamers, artisans and creatives. As big believers in imperfection as the grounding factor of humanity, That Dapper Chap’s ethos of making ‘something beautiful that reflects Melbourne, its people and the dapper way’ has struck a chord with us at BigPictureStuff. So we grabbed some tapas with them to find out more about these incredible people.
V: That Dapper Chap has just started this year and it’s sky rocketed! Has there been any particular challenges that come to mind in the past few months?
G: Collectively it’s been tough. At first it was difficult because we didn’t have a physical working space and all our communications were online, making it very hard to see what everyone else is doing. A lot the time, you get ideas from seeing your team members working, so it’s been hard to get a bit of transparency around the group and what everyone has been working on.
To combat this we organised our creative Friday fiestas. Basically we get down on Friday night and all come together, for two hours of working, which was really valuable for the last couple of weeks. Before, we would just come together for a meeting and we would have a chat, have dinner and go home. But now, coming together to work and to tick off tasks has been really rewarding.
C: And I think, as you say, finding transparency was a really hard thing, particularly in September, as that was a pivitol point for us. We were asking ourselves, “are we really going to do this?”, “are we really going to launch?” and that transparency in knowing & launching our brand was a huge learning curve. I love our Friday Fiestas! We are able to come together,and see what the team has achieved, kick new ideas around, workshop our business, have a few laughs, and knock back a few beers. It’s a really good way to run TDC and I think our business has definitely succeeded as a result of the last few meetings, and it’s so much more on point. And I mean, you wouldn’t do run a business if you didn’t love it!
V: So for you guys individually what motivates you to keep going with That Dapper Chap? And have you seen any particular rewards during this journey?
C: Well, sometimes, I don’t turn the laptop on; I’m so exhausted and I don’t want to see notifications! But the last few weeks, the best thing for me was seeing customers responding so well to our products. People going ‘this is beautiful, what a great idea’. I also feel motivated by answering the, ‘What are you doing after uni?’ question. I like that I can tell people about TDC, and people are always so positive.
There have never been negative responses such as ‘That must be really hard or that’s a small target market’, it’s always ‘Wow, I wish I thought of that first!’ And I think, if you ask my boyfriend Pete, he’d say the most rewarding part of this work is the excitement and satisfaction I consistently feel whenever we achieve something, no matter how big or small. I always call him with a new piece of news I’m over the moon about, and he is always so proud. I like that TDC brings all our team, friends and family together.
G: And I think, what I saw as so rewarding for Celeste, from an outsider point of view, was her presentation in her marketing class. A guy in her class loved the presentation, and he happened to work for Mitchell McCabe on Clarendon street where we are now stocked. He was so keen on the brand he called the owner and Mitchell Mccabe and organised a meeting to get some bow ties into the store. I think this is a testament to Celeste and how well she voices our business and our ideas.
Lookbook photography:Daniel Milligan Photography
V: So looking back what has been the biggest highlight for you guys in your journey with That Dapper Chap and the people behind it?
C: Actually if I could say one thing that was a highlight, that same presentation, my tutor stopped me and said ‘Now, I think you should choose a different brand to analyse because these guys are clearly well established, their website is great and their copy is incredible’. The copy was a piece I wrote, “He. She. They” for TDC when we first started up. I love it, it speaks about out about us, our audience, and our beliefs. I told my tutor it was a business I was part of and he sorta looked a touch gobsmacked and said “Oh, right.. Keep going”. I got a really good mark haha.
G: Yeah, and I think a highlight for me has been the joy from the team members, to see and grow. Just from my point of view, I can kind of sit back and see where and how we are going and direct this movement. For me it has been so satisfying to see Ben (our bow tie maker) getting so chuffed when the stocks are full, there are no orders pending, and he’s finished. Then 20 minutes later he’ll be writing a facebook status’ saying ‘I’m living the life!’. That’s the best thing for me, knowing that I’ve helped him get to be where he wants to be. That’s what I want to do as well, for the next few years. If That Dapper Chap continues for the next few years fantastic, but I love helping people and I love assisting, especially young designers, getting where they want to be.
V: And I love hearing about your brand, cause it’s the people that make it special. Is that unique feel behind the handmade aspect of your bowties?
C: And I would say that is definitely our unique selling point as well. Something that sets us apart from our competitors is that you can tell from George and I that we are so invested in this, and are so excited and so willing to see this business succeed. I think that energy is almost tangible in the bow ties. We put so much of ourselves into this project and I think that shines through in all aspects of our work. Hard work is good work.
G: For example, this one (pictured above), is one of the first bow ties that Ben made. We came up with this concept of creating a sustainable bow tie, which sounds ridiculous, but is one that you can wear multiple ways. With a shirt, but also with an untucked shirt and boots. Reinventing, how, why and where you can where a bow tie has now become the big ethos of the selling point of That Dapper Chap.
C: And Quality. It’s all about quality. Every piece that Ben puts out, you can see that he is meticulous about making sure that it is perfect for that person. And he makes it with the end customer in mind, ensuring it’s up to scratch for them. And seeing how hard Ben works is amazing. To see him putting his heart and soul in every stitch.
V: Yeah, a lot of our readers get really excited about actually pursuing what they want to achieve and what they want to do. Do you guys have that same passion?
G: Yeah, when I first met Celeste, I had never met a girl who was so driven. It was kind of scary in a way and inspiring to see that she was aspiring to be, and fulfilling her dreams to be, X, Y and Z.
C:I definitely have goals, and I’m motivated by opportunity. I talk to a lot of people at Uni and I find that most don’t see that there are so many avenues and opportunities to create a career. I don;t mean career as in be an accountant for your whole life, but by grabbing onto any opportunity that presents itself, and nurturing it, growing it, and moulding it into what you want out of it. For example, we’ve taken the idea of hand-making bow ties and selling them to friends and built it into an opportunity for not just business success, but enjoying the collective (and new) experience of building up a network of awe inspiring people.
I don’t think people should be worried about taking risks, I think being motivated is about seeing and taking opportunity.
G: I mean, you don’t really have anything to lose, normally the real outcome isn’t what you started anyway. It’s exciting to not know what is around the corner. Even though there could be uncertainty or a brick wall, you can always walk around those brick walls!
V: Where do you guys see yourselves or That Dapper Chap in a year?
G: We will have broken the niche, of who wears a bow tie and how they wear it. Melbourne will have changed the way they view bow ties from That Dapper Chap. He and She will be wearing bow ties and there is a lifestyle that people will aspire to live. One of the first things we came up with is we want to present a lifestyle, not just a product. And if we have assisted in our vision of people creating their own uniqueness, then I will be happy. I mean if we made a bit of money on the way, that’s fantastic.
C: I would love to see as well, That Dapper Chap creating a culture where young start ups are supported and encouraged through a network of likeminded people. Can you imagine what would happen if there was a whole lot of start ups in Melbourne of local and independent design propping each other up and supporting each other? It would be incredible, and feel so vibrant to be a part of.
Lookbook Photography: Daniel Milligan Photography
Photography and Interview: Valerie Bong