It’s rare that you find someone online that you immediately connect with and want to form a partnership with…what?…what do you mean, that’s exactly what match.com is?!!!!
Well whatever, I’m not talking romance here! I’m talking about falling in love, WITH A PRODUCT!!
Let’s start over.
Have you ever found an awesome product and then found out the people who make it are even awesomer?! It doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does, it’s amazing! It happened for me with a few companies, and one shining example is the guys over at Dashing Debonaire!
Their beautifully handcrafted pocket squares make you want buy their products, their customer service and kindness make you want to KEEP buying their products. See for yourself in the interview below.
I like to start with this question – Where did the name Dashing Debonaire come from?
Joe: Pretty much read Miguel’s answer. LOL. We were going through so much at our day jobs taking in long hours and not enjoying where we were in life. We were not able to spend time with our loved ones. What makes us happy is fashion. We had an extensive collection of men’s accessories, but wanted more options and designs that we loved. We could not find that in the current market and while we were going to a family function, Miguel brought up the idea of a men’s accessory line. That is when the idea of “Dashing Debonaire” came. For more details, you can read his story.
Miguel: Funny story is that we were just talking in the car and I wanted to come up with a name that seemed elegant, sophisticated, and catchy. Now I’m a big wrestling fan, and one of my favorite wrestlers at the time was called, “Dashing” Cody Rhodes. He would give grooming tips, manly advice, and brought a sense of style to his wrestling gimmick in a very humorous way. As we were building the name of the company, all that kept sticking out was the word “dashing.” From there I just started free styling like a rapper with random words that were synonyms of “dashing” and out came “debonaire” in my really bad fake French accent and it just stuck! Joe was like, “you got it! DASHING DEBONAIRE!” After that, I just kept talking in my bad French accent for a week straight until Joe threatened to stop talking to me.
While you make other accessories, it began with pocket squares, why?
Joe: To be honest, when looking at other pocket squares we owned, we wanted to see if we can do something different. Many major companies do it with just stitching on the corners. We prototyped many concepts and folds to see what would look best. I think we had a total of 10 pocket squares with the same pattern, but different folds. We kept testing the durability of each prototype and came to the conclusion that our current fold and stitch was the option we loved most. Pocket squares are a product that we love collecting too! We enjoy wearing them with all our suits.
Miguel: Currently, I am a professor of psychology in a graduate program at a small school in the Los Angeles county. Before that, I worked at a mental health clinic as a child psychologist. With these 2 awesome jobs, I have to be presentable and I loved to dress up. I own a lot of men’s accessories (especially pocket squares) and frankly I was tired of searching for ones I liked as well as buying them. I also saw that some of the accessories I bought would just end up damaged because of poor quality due to the lack of craftsmanship these major companies had, especially the way the corners would be folded. I knew that teaming up with Joe, we could make way better quality men’s accessories and create styles that were just as good. We started with the pocket square because these are products we love collecting as they always bring a sense of “polish-ness” to a suit when worn correctly.
What makes Sir Francis Earl so classy? Is it the top hat?
Joe: Hmmm. This one’s a hard one. He doesn’t really tell us about his past much. He does come from a very prominent family, from what I’ve heard, and loves helping people. When he told us that he wanted to fund a business and wanted Miguel and me to help him, we didn’t hesitate since we already had a business concept in mind, Dashing Debonaire! Maybe one day you can interview him. He’s just such a busy man. We barely see him sometimes. We just get a ton of calls and text messages. As for his hat, it is actually a derby hat that has been past down from several generations. He doesn’t leave home without it. Though sometimes he’ll change it out for a baseball cap and if he’s festive, a stocking cap for the holiday season.
Miguel: That Sir Francis Earl guy… what an egomaniac that guy is… I mean a brilliant person he is. *side note, please edit that “egomaniac” sentence out. Don’t want to lose my job. Yeah, the guy is super classy but he really doesn’t speak much about his past even though, he likes talking about himself a lot. It’s always, do this, and do that, and get me that or get me this. If it’s not one thing, it’s another. Please also, edit that last rant out too. But if you were to ask him directly, why is he so classy, he’d probably say, “why wouldn’t I be? And it’s called a derby hat.”
Can you give us some insight into your creative process? For instance, do you design a square and then name it? Or do you come up with a concept/name and then go in search of a fabric that fits?
Joe: When we go through swatches and swatches of fabric, we first look at what we like and if we would wear it ourselves. We sort through all the choices and vote for the select few that make it in the end. Its definitely a labor intensive several days of coming up with the final choices. After we obtain the fabrics we like, we then stitch them and model them in our suits. We then go through a list of names that we have, see what they would most seem like and maybe even match them to the personalities of our friends.
Miguel: Honestly, we just have swatches hanging on the wall and throw a dart at them. From there, where ever the dart lands, we create it. Just kidding. We actually examine swatches meticulously and choose what we like. We then sort through the ones we really like from what we really love. From the fabrics we love, we let it marinate for a couple of days (sometimes weeks), and then come back to see how much we really love it. If it still makes an impression on us, then we select it. I stitch the selected fabric as a bow tie and a pocket square. Then, I take pictures of them styled and send them to Joe with what I like and don’t like about the accessory. He gives me his feedback as well. If we both agree it makes the cut as a bow tie or pocket square or both, then we name it. I go through a 1920s census of the most popular names during that decade and pick it according to what name jumps out the most from the fabric. I then create a little back story with the meaning of the name and TIE it into the caption of the accessory. It’s fun for me to do, since it’s a creative process.
You guys generously use your success to support charitable causes, why is that important to you?
Joe: Miguel and my upbringing was extremely difficult. We didn’t really have much growing up, but appreciated every moment of it. Our parents brought us up with such respect and humility. Even though we didn’t have much, we ensured to help those less fortunate than us. This was part of our mantra day in and day out. We lived and breathed it. So as I grew older and became the adult in which I was self-sufficient, I wanted to make sure I never forgot my humble beginnings. So when it came time to start a business, both Miguel and I were on the same page to ensure we help others and give back to the community any way possible. Whether it is volunteering, donating money or fundraising. We love the community we are in and want to help anyone we can. With all the successes of Dashing Debonaire, we are so fortunate to be able to help others and will continue to do so with the help of our customers. We cannot thank them enough.
Miguel: I think it’s fair to say that Joe and myself know what it feels like to be in need. We grew up in very similar areas where it was really rough in Los Angeles. Not a lot of people from our neighborhood grew up to be anything other than gang members or full time criminals. Since we don’t like jail all that much, we went a different route. With some luck and perseverance, someone believed in us and gave us a shot because they saw something in us. Now that we’re in professional positions that we can provide for others, we would like to give others the same shot they gave us. Joe and myself have always been on the same page to give back the community. I am very lucky that we both have that same vision of always wanting to “help” any way we can. It’s even part of our mission statement that we want to be the “best fashion accessory brand” and part of that is serving those who need it most.
You guys treat your customers with such kindness, almost to the point of befriending them – why do you take that approach?
Joe: We love people and we love our customers! Without them, there would not be a Dashing Debonaire. Their input about our products make us extremely happy to do what we do. We love our new found happiness. Keep sending those e-mails. We love reading them! 🙂
Miguel: Simple answer! Without their support in buying our products, there is no us. We want them to understand that we are down to earth and every day consumers just like them. Just because we manufacture these products, doesn’t mean we have lost touch of how they should be treated as our clients. Plus, we love seeing how excited and happy they get when they post pictures of their new Dashing Debonaire product because honestly, we are just as happy and excited to make them for you!
Is it fair to say, you guys are serious about what you do, but you don’t take yourselves too seriously?
Joe: There’s definitely a good balance between the two. Customer satisfaction is our number one priority and we take that extremely serious. If they’re not happy, we aren’t. So when we are focusing on the business side of things, we are laser focused and are serious. But, there has to be a balance because the relationship that I have with Miguel, we can just grab a beer or two and laugh the day away with things that happened through our day or just reminiscing on the past. We’ve probably known each other for over two decades now. The stories of the past make us smile and definitely were the good times.
Miguel: I love what we do! I love that we are able to create something that people actually like. To see someone place a Dashing Debonaire pocket square or bowtie as part of their accessory rotation is humbling and inspiring. These 2 feelings go hand in hand for me… it’s humbling because someone actually invested in a handmade product we stitched ourselves and they thought it was good enough to be a part of their styling. Not only that, but it also shows me that our customers believe in our brand because they took a chance to invest in a start up company like ours. Then that leads for me to feel inspired because I want to continue to create high quality, handmade, stylish products so new customers can find something they like and feel good about it. For example, it’s such a great feeling that you, Christian, bought something from us and had no clue what Dashing Debonaire was. However, you saw something you loved, believed in our product, and decided to invest in many of our merchandise. That’s were my gratitude develops because to see you style something we created from it’s inception and then talk so highly about our company is so rewarding and I am immensely thankful for your support. That goes to say (again) that without our customers, there is no Dashing Debonaire. That’s something I will never forget if it’s just the 2 of us running the company or if we grow to 2,000 employees. Staying grounded and remembering where I started has always been part of my life motto since day one. So a BIG thank you to everyone that has and will buy something form us.
Who would win an arm wrestling contest, Joe or Miguel?
Joe: Miguel would!
Miguel: Joe would!
You guys are childhood friends. What was your favorite game to play together?
Joe: I can’t remember any games that we played together. We mostly just hung out and had our parents drive us to maybe a comic book store to get a new comic, just hang out at a mall or catch a movie.
Miguel: I don’t think we ever played any games together… as adults we play a lot of drinking games… does that count? HAHAHA! Just kidding! Basically, Joe and myself are really huge comic nerds and collectors, so a lot of our childhood would either be spent at the mall, comic book store or arcade.
And now Five Signature Questions with Christian:
Who is your Favorite Superhero or Villain?
Joe: Superman hands down. Looks like Miguel chose Batman. We’ll see who wins next year. Ahem. Superman.
Miguel: I’m going to pick a favorite superhero AND super-villain if that’s okay. Superhero: Batman, ummmm because he’s BATMAN! Super-Villain: The Joker, because I secretly wish he was a superhero, and depending on how you look at perspective, he’s just a misunderstood superhero that likes hurting innocent people… so maybe he isn’t a superhero… nevermind.
Who wins in a fight Batman or Superman?
Joe: Superman! Unless Batman has kryptonite on him. Then I’m not sure.
Miguel: Batman, hands down. If someone says otherwise… you’re wrong and we can’t be friends. Right Joe? That’s right.
Which Star Wars Character would you be?
Joe: Han Solo. I wanted Princess Leia.
Miguel: One of the Ewoks cause they live a awesome tree city community! Who wouldn’t want to live in trees?!
What’s your Favorite cereal of all time?
Joe: Pop’s cereal. Maybe because that was the only one my parents bought and I knew of.
Miguel: Cinnamon Toast Crunch with or without milk! They need to bring Chef Wendell back though.
Are your dirty clothes on the floor or in the hamper, right now?
Joe: Hamper. Can’t deal with dirty clothes on the floor.
Miguel: Hamper! Always the Hamper!