Caz Little started Dashing Hounds 4 years ago in Melbourne and 12 months ago, she moved herself and the business to New York.
Dashing Hounds is a one-on-one personal shopping service originally for men but now also women which I call Dashing Dames! It’s a service provided to New Yorkers who are time poor and need help to find the right wardrobe pieces for work, pleasure or a special occasion. I help people with everything from red carpets to weddings and anything in between. As well as finding them the right outfit for their occasion, I save time by pre-shopping and pre-arranging discounts and/or champagne service in stores with my inside connections! Some of my services include a New York lunch and a pampering session such as a hair trim or wet-shave!
How long did you have the idea for this business and why did you decide to start Dashing Hounds?
Dashing Hounds is a business I began 4 years ago in Melbourne. At the time I was a denim designer and had been working in the Australian rag trade for over 12 years. I also have a diploma in Fashion Design. I designed menswear for some of Australia’s best known fashion companies like Lee Jeans, Austin Group, Elwood and RES Denim. During that time, I also taught fashion students at RMIT. I decided it was time to help men shop rather trying to redesign the wheel.
You get to go shopping and play dress up every day – It sounds like a dream! Is the reality as great as our visual?
Helping people is something that comes naturally to me. As a kid, I was always down for playing dress ups. I loved going through my parents’ clothing and trying on everything. I’m always looking at how I can tweak someone else’s outfit to help improve their look. Since moving to New York I’m steadily building up my clientele. I hope to be helping people every day of the week because this is my dream job for sure!
Do you think men in New York are more style conscious than their Australian counterparts?
Hmm? That is a good question. I think Aussies make an effort in their style most defiantly! We have and export some of the best designers in the world, so there is no excuse! The one thing that I think is different is perhaps the enormous brand offering here in New York compared to Melbourne. There are way more people in New York and so many great brands to choose from.
The weather plays a huge part in style also. Layering for below 0 temps and having more options for textured and warmer fabrics, as well as different silhouettes suitable to the climate. They are investment pieces which are not normally needed in the warmer Australian climate. I personally will never do a Melbourne winter again without my Uniqlo heat tech thermals!
What has been your ‘Ah Ha’ / ‘I’ve made it in the USA moment’
For me I don’t ever feel like I have ever had an “I’ve made it” moment. It’s an ongoing life goal. Happiness and being content with what you have is making it. Though the other day I had an “I’m a New Yorker” moment when I told someone to get out of my way…..I have never done that before.
What have been the hardest lessons in starting a business in New York?
Keep trying and putting yourself out there. Sounds cliché but it’s TRUE. Don’t give up. If it isn’t working, try another angle. Don’t let people convince you differently. Follow your heart and be passionate about and committed to your goals. Stay the course!
Where have you been most successful in marketing your business?
Friends, word of mouth and networking! Stick by your friends and keep your enemies closer, as my Dad says. Nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition with your arch-nemesis.
Putting yourself out there. Networking groups such as AAA and AWNY have loads of benefits when it comes to promoting yourself. I keep my business cards on me at all times when attending these meet-ups.
Do you have any mentors, and how have people been with sharing information and their networks?
I do! You need mentors. Most of mine are still based in Melbourne and we often Skype. Facebook is very important here in New York. I know some people are anti-social media, but it really helps me and my networking.
In Melbourne I was involved in a weekly chat up/breakfast business meeting with 5 other women. We met every Wednesday 7-9am in a local cafe and talked about our week’s achievements, our challenges, goals and shared contacts with one another over breakfast and our Mac Books. It was very motivational! I hope to get a group going in New York soon.
What advice would you give someone thinking about starting a business?
Do it! Get some funds/capital behind you and if not, work a (well paying) part time job until you get your ideas off the ground. Tell your bosses you want to go part time (3-4 days a week) so they can support you and give yourself 2 or more days a week if you can to give yourself a chance to succeed!
Other than yourself, what piece of Australia have you put into your business?
I am also a brand representative for down under brands, Mr.Elk leather goods by Elk Accessories from Melbourne and Triumph & Disaster apothecary line by Dion Nash from New Zealand. I love supporting brands from home, to offer something new and unique to the US market they haven’t seen before.
What is next for Dashing Hounds?
I would like to build my client base through relationships with corporate firms and social committees. I can come into your office and present my styling tips, show how to tie a knot, tailor your garments, polish shoes and general advice on how to dress better in the workplace. I presented to a few large property and banking firms in Melbourne. Not only are they a bit of fun for your teams, but it’s a perfect way to get your employees looking great and feeling more confident in the work place and it even leads to bigger profits!
Do you have an offer or promo code you would like to share with AWNY members and their gentlemen friends?
I would like to offer a 10% discount off any of my Dashing Hounds or Dashing Dames service for AWNY members.
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