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It’s Women’s History Month! Which is why we decided to sit down with Dapper Boi Co-founder and CEO, Vicky Pasche, to learn more about how she got where she is today, not just as a leader, but as a mother, partner, and citizen of the world. Whether you need a little motivation, or just want to get to know her better, this interview is definitely worth a read.
I am from a little town called Ballston Lake (Saratoga County), in upstate New York. I am very lucky and grateful to have an incredible family that I adore. My parents have always been supportive of whatever dreams my sister and I wanted to pursue. That still holds true today.
I believe that I am and will always be a work-in-progress. And I am proud of this because it means that I am always growing and learning new things about myself. I will say that I have come a long way and I am the most confident I have ever been. Confident in myself as a leader, and confident in the mission of our brand.
Clothing wasn't important to me for 28 years. Shopping in the women’s department, I felt frumpy and unseen for majority of my life. When I finally cut my hair is when I started to care about how I looked. I remember a pivotal conversation that one of my best friends had with me about giving me permission to be my authentic self with clothing and accessories. She was very gentle with me and told me that she thought she knew the direction I wanted to go with my clothing. Prior to this convo, she had pointed out a couple of people with a more masculine aesthetic and asked me if that was something I wanted to explore. During our talk, I remember specifically us talking about possibly losing my big hoop earrings and trading in my purse for a wallet. I remember feeling so validated and excited, that the very next day I went to the men's department for the first time and bought my first pair of men's jeans and a wallet. That is the moment I started caring about clothing. And it became a HUGE part of my life.
I don't think there was ever an actual moment that I was realized that I was gay. I remember having crushes on both boys and girls throughout my early life. The moment I came out to my family though, was after a 4 1/2-year secret relationship with a straight woman. I was heartbroken. My family is on the east coast, and I live in San Diego, but I remember specifically being so upset in the car. Even though we were so close, I was dodging their calls because I knew I could no longer keep this pain inside a moment more. I remember that I pulled over on the side of the road to answer their phone call. My parents had me on speaker and were like, “what is going on with you?”. I didn’t know how to respond, so I took a deep breath, and answered bluntly with, “me and ____broke up.” And that is the first time they ever heard me call her my girlfriend. They only knew her as “my friend and roommate” for so long. They were silent for a moment and then responded with, “Vicky, we were waiting for you to tell us. We love you no matter what and want you to be able to talk to us about anything.” What a relief. I know so many others do not have such a supportive story to share, and I recognize that I am one of the lucky ones to have a very supportive family and some amazing friends.
I didn't have any specific hero growing up, but I had/have some wonderful family members. My parents were and are always so kind, loving, and supportive. I love these qualities in people. I align with compassionate souls. All my grandparents were a huge part of my life as well, and they all had those same qualities. Along with incredible work ethic. I loved them all so deeply.
One of my grandfathers and my uncle, were very ambitious with very successful businesses. I always looked up to them. Even though they were on the other side of the country (San Diego, where I am today), they always gave the best advice and encouraged me to work hard and explore my dreams. None of my grandparents got to witness me “come out” or launch a business, but I know that they would be so proud of me today. I feel them and think about them often.
Helping people find their confidence motivates me. We all matter equally, and some of the customer stories we hear about how our clothing makes them feel is humbling, relatable, and inspiring. Their stories are the reason we do this. It is our WHY. They are the reason we will push through these archaic shopping binary norms. Representation of all people matters, and we will continue to push through so that our customers know that they “fit” in and belong, no matter where they are at in their own journey to authenticity.
Starting a fashion brand with absolutely no fashion experience is a scary thing. I cannot even count how many times throughout this process people asked what our backup plan was and the truth is, we never talked about a plan B.
I was an athlete my entire life. In college I played both volleyball and I was a thrower (shotput, discus, hammer, heavyweight). I worked my ass off, and these sports and my teammates were my life. In 2002 (my 2nd year in college), I was at the top of my game. In volleyball, I was captain of the team, and named both All-Region, and All-Conference. I also was named Woman Athlete of the National Championship competition for winning and/or placing top 2 in ALL throwing events. At the end of the year, my college held a huge awards ceremony to recognize all the athletes from every sport. Unexpectedly, I was named Woman Athlete of the Year. I was SO honored. I had always felt like the underdog my entire life, and I will never forget the feeling of being seen for all my hard work. I was later inducted into my college’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
As a young child, I was pretty shy. I had bad asthma and was sick quite a bit. Because of the amount of school I missed, I found myself trying to blend in, because I never wanted to call attention to the fact that I wasn’t caught up or knew what was going on. I just wanted to fit in and never asked questions or tried to get help in fear of judgement. I was lucky to be a decent athlete, and I had to keep a certain GPA to stay in sports, so I did whatever I could to get by. I realized all this recently in my life, which has helped me understand some of my growing pains as an entrepreneur.
Very recently actually. As many know, Dapper Boi went through a rough 2022. In the last few years, I had to learn a whole new world, fundraising. I was completely out of my element and I felt lost and did not even know where to start. However, there was one thing that I was extremely confident about and it was the mission of our brand. We’ve bootstrapped this brand since 2015 by launching pre-orders. It was never meant to be a long-term solution, but it worked for us as we were trying to get investors to invest in inventory in advance. Which we're in the process of doing. Confidence in myself and the brand was a huge part of that.
Connect early and often. And that it is okay to ask for help. I’ve realized that I don’t need to have it ALL figured out. I am human and we make mistakes. We are supposed to! It is how you pivot and grow from those mistakes that mold you into who you are. There are ALWAYS people in your corner. It may take some digging at times, but you will find them. “Fitting in” both literally and metaphorically is the essence of our brand, and we do this with real and genuine connection to others. You don’t have to do this alone. And with a real, united front, you are unstoppable.
There are just so many. My wife and co-founder, Charisse, is who I’d like to start with. Not many people know this, but she is absolutely the backbone of this brand. She may be in the background, but she has never wavered in this mission. When we started the brand, she worked full-time to support us, while I got the brand up and running. She worked nights and weekends right along with me on getting our name out to the world. She birthed our twin girls, was a stay-at-home mom, while working on our business any moment she could. She’s been an essential voice in every single decision made, from color swatches and social media content, to making the decision to sell our home to keep this brand moving forward. We are a real team, and none of this could have been possible without her.
From my parents, my sister, my aunt, my cousins, my grandparents, and my friends who shaped me into the compassionate person I am today, to our customers, my mentors, investors, and Dapper Boi team (both internal and external) that continue to believe in and motivate us to continue this incredibly important journey. I cannot express my gratitude enough. Because of them, we are UNSTOPPABLE.
I lastly want to thank my twin 5-year-olds, Reese and Tory. They were born pre-mature and have faced so many challenges in their lives already. In their short lives, they have had already made such a positive impact on our lives. They embrace everything they do with pure joy and innocence. They’ve taught us patience and unconditional love. Most importantly, they’ve taught us how valuable time is, and with the people that matter to us the most. We will continue to teach them about work ethic, respect, confidence in their authentic selves, compassion and advocation for others, just like my family has instilled in me. We are already so proud of them. We’re so excited for the coming impact they will have on our lives and on society. It gives me peace of mind to know that they are our future.