Arlen Robinson [00:02]
Welcome to the Ecommerce Marketing Podcast, everyone. My name is Arlen, and I am your host. Today, we have a very special guest, Vicky Pasche co-founder and CEO of Dapper Boi, a brand known for turning a Shark Tank rejection into a thriving 7-figure business. Alongside her wife, Charisse, Vicky has become a beacon of resilience and innovation in the fashion industry, inspiring others with her story of success. Welcome to the podcast, Vicky.

Vicky Pasche [00:38]
I love that. Thank you so much, Arlen. I am so happy to be here.

Arlen Robinson [00:43]
Oh, you’re welcome. Thank you for joining us. I’m really excited to talk to you. I think it’s going to be a great episode. We often discuss ecommerce marketing strategies, but I don’t often have brands that can share lessons learned from the trenches. That’s why I’m excited to talk to you because those are some of the most impactful lessons. You’ve been knee-deep in running the business and the ecommerce marketing side. Today, we’re going to talk about how you went from a Shark Tank rejection to now being a seven-figure apparel brand. It’s quite an accomplishment, so I’m excited to dig into that. Before we dive in, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your background and how you got into what you’re doing today?

Vicky Pasche [01:43]
Yeah, sure. It’s interesting. My background is in marketing, specifically casino marketing, which is a completely different world than fashion. But once I became a manager and headed up an entire marketing team, I had to dress professionally in suits every day. At this time in my life, a lot of big things were happening. I had come out, chopped my hair, and started dressing in the men’s department, which was scary, but those suits never fit my body. The real story behind Dapper Boi is that our original logo had a bow tie because we were going to start with suits. But when we launched on Kickstarter, we realized it was more than just suits; it was really about everyday wear. The very first thing I tried on was jeans in the men’s department. So, without any fashion background, my wife and I decided to start Dapper Boi in 2015.

Arlen Robinson [02:53]
Oh, wow. That’s quite a story. Thank you for sharing that. I love hearing about brands that evolve from the founders’ needs. There are so many brands like yours where it was an organic growth because of a personal need. You didn’t have suits that fit, and you thought there had to be a better way. When you don’t see anything in the marketplace, you either do nothing or develop something yourself, which is what you did and succeeded at.

Vicky Pasche [03:38]
Yeah, definitely. We were going to launch suits, but we noticed other brands starting suit companies on Kickstarter. So, we went back to the drawing board and thought about what was the first thing I tried on, which was jeans. I realized it was more than just me; all my friends had the same challenges. That gave us the guts to give it a shot and launch on Kickstarter.

Arlen Robinson [04:08]
Right. That’s some good stuff. Your story is really inspiring. Could you share your initial vision behind Dapper Boi and how it evolved post-Shark Tank? Tell us about your appearance on Shark Tank and how things progressed from there.

Vicky Pasche [04:41]
It’s been evolving since the very beginning. When we started the brand, it was initially for women like me, mostly from the LGBTQ community, more masculine presenting, solving problems like women’s jeans having no functional pockets. Our initial products had hidden snaps to close the gap in the chest area of button-up shirts. As we launched these jeans, more people from all walks of life started coming to us with the same problems. That’s when we morphed into an all-gender brand. Our mission changed to changing the history of fashion. We want to be the next Levi’s of all-gender fashion. Appearing on Shark Tank, even though we didn’t get a deal, was a huge exposure. It gave us mainstream visibility and helped us connect with people in the best way possible. So, it’s been positive results since being on the show.

Arlen Robinson [07:00]
Yeah, I can imagine. I’m a huge Shark Tank fan, and I remember your episode. Just being on there, regardless of getting a deal, gives you a huge amount of visibility. It’s impressive to maintain your core mission and continue moving forward despite not getting a deal. A lot of brands don’t know where to go after a rejection, but it’s great that you kept it moving.

Vicky Pasche [08:25]
Totally. In that moment, it was tough. We were hoping for Damon because he gets it. He offered to be a mentor, which was awesome. What people don’t know is that morning, we signed on with our lead investor for a $250K investment. It was such a high. We were desperate because of production delays due to COVID. We almost lost it all, sold our home, and were down to our last hundred dollars. But we got the investment and the exposure from Shark Tank, and it’s been up ever since. One story that came out of Shark Tank was from a lesbian woman with an estranged relationship with her father. They hadn’t spoken for years, but he saw us on Shark Tank and reached out to her. It opened up their relationship. These kinds of stories are why we do what we do, changing people’s lives and their confidence.

Arlen Robinson [10:59]
Yeah, that’s an awesome story. After feeling down and rejected, it sounds like you knew you were going to keep things going with the other deal in place. It’s great that Damon reached out to you as well. Even without an investment, just being able to ask for advice from someone at that level goes a long way.

Vicky Pasche [12:27]
Yeah, for sure. For us, getting out of your own way is important. I felt like I needed to figure everything out myself and didn’t think I was ready for investor conversations. But we’ve done just under $4 million in the last four years, bootstrapped with a small team. Marketing was everything for us. It’s about connecting with our customers and staying true to who we are. We use relatable videos, content, and community involvement. We have zero political agenda and are raw, authentic, and vulnerable with our journey. People relate to that.

Arlen Robinson [15:06]
Yeah, that’s good to know. Being relatable and transparent is crucial. When you get really large, some brands can come off as inauthentic, but it sounds like you started and continue with that authenticity.

Vicky Pasche [16:08]
Yeah, it’s about being your best, most vulnerable self and showing the authentic journey in a positive way. People connect to that and want to get on board.

Arlen Robinson [16:27]
Definitely. The apparel industry is super competitive. What unique challenges did you face in carving out a specific niche for Dapper Boi, and how did you overcome them?

Vicky Pasche [16:49]
We still face challenges. We’re not just a lesbian brand; we’re breaking the binary way of thinking. We cater to a diverse customer base, and our messaging needs to resonate with each persona. For example, men aren’t used to hearing words like inclusive when it comes to clothing. It’s a work in progress, but I believe in our mission to be the next all-gender Levi’s.

Arlen Robinson [18:11]
Right. Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: AI. It’s changing our world at a huge pace. Have you embraced AI technologies for your marketing strategies?

Vicky Pasche [18:52]
Yes, we use AI for marketing, like emails and social media content. We teach it our brand voice. We’re also working on using AI for fitting on our website, partnering with Couture Technologies for a genderless avatar to see how outfits look on your body with a heat map. It’s going to be the way of the future for an all-gender inclusive brand.

Arlen Robinson [20:41]
Yeah, that sounds awesome. Embracing technology early is crucial. You talked about community. Are there specific strategies or tools you use with social media to grow your community and foster engagement?

Vicky Pasche [21:55]
Yes, it goes back to our beginning. When we launched on Kickstarter, we relied on friends and family and used an app for a flash mob post. It got us started and created a community. We’ve kept that core strategy, using email and pre-orders to create FOMO. We use different platforms for different things, like VIP drops and app user discounts. Email is still a main vehicle for communication.

Arlen Robinson [26:09]
It’s good to hear you’ve embraced various strategies, especially with email, which has had a resurgence. You use it effectively to communicate with your customers.

Vicky Pasche [26:47]
Yes, we use different platforms and strategies, like special VIP drops and additional discounts for app users. We’re transparent and authentic in our communication.

Arlen Robinson [27:05]
Looking back at your journey from Shark Tank to now

,what advice would you give entrepreneurs facing similar rejections or setbacks?

Vicky Pasche [27:33]
It depends on where you are in your journey. For first-time founders, it’s scary but worth it. Be ready for a long, bumpy journey. For those facing rejection, especially in fundraising, get out of your own way. You are an opportunity, not asking for yourself but for your business and community. Keep moving on because right around the corner, it could be a lot of sunshine.

Arlen Robinson [28:56]
That’s a great piece of advice. It’s important to value your worth and present it as an opportunity for investors. It’s not just about pitching with your hand out; you have a community and a brand worth investing in.

Vicky Pasche [29:21]
Absolutely. It’s a long relationship with investors. Both sides bring value to the table. Stick with your vision.

Arlen Robinson [29:37]
This has been an awesome conversation, Vicky. Your journey is incredible. Lastly, before we wrap up, could you share a fun fact about yourself?

Vicky Pasche [30:06]
I love 90s R&B and karaoke, even though I’m not good at it. I’m a huge fan of Jodeci and Boyz II Men.

Arlen Robinson [30:25]
That’s great! I’m a fan of 90s R&B too. Lastly, how can people reach you if they want to learn more about your journey or ask questions?

Vicky Pasche [31:17]
You can reach me on LinkedIn, Vicky Pasche. Follow us on Instagram at Dapper Boi, and my wife and I recently started an Instagram account called Meet the Pasche’s, showing behind the scenes of growing this brand.

Arlen Robinson [31:37]
Got it. We’ll have the links to your site and social handles in the show notes. Thank you, Vicky. It’s been a pleasure talking to you.

Vicky Pasche [31:57]
Thank you so much, Arlen. It’s been a blast.

Podcast Guest Info

Vicky Pasche
CEO of Dapper Boi