About two weeks ago, I had a moment where I felt inspired. A friend of mine got her car towed and her and I spent the rest of, what was left, of our Saturday joking around at the towing company making the best of an unfortunate situation. She mentioned how stressful this process was and she was worried. We then heard a man next to us saying “you just have to believe it’s going to be ok”. The man looked quite ‘dapper’ in a nice coat and shoes, so my friend mumbled back “maybe for you, you look like you have money”, and I will never forget his response: “I didn’t always used to have money, trust me I had it rough, you’ll be ok.”
We then went back and forth asked each other questions and I found out Ricardo Perez is the creative director and founder of a custom tailoring suit club called ‘The Dapper Club’. I reached out to Ricardo and was able to get an exclusive interview and look see at the prestigious and classy Dapper Club’s stomping grounds. ‘The Dapper Club’ is a customized suit and taylor business that devotes their time to making you your own unique, and very detailed tailored suit.
With my shoes full of snow, living in Chicago will do that, I stepped into ‘The Dapper Club’ and I was greeted by Ricardo himself:
RICARDO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR HAVING ME, TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF:
“I started off as a personal stylist, personal shopper in the fashion industry about five years ago. I would help men revamp their image and help them find good deals and shop affordably and be here for them. One thing men hate is shopping so I did it for free for experience and exposure. Then I realized that I also hate shopping and I was making money for all of these other businesses, so I thought, why not change the shopping experience in general and create my own place.”
Ricardo and I bantered for a while about how the young entrepreneur can have many ways of thinking depending on what industry they’re a part of. But one thing all successful innovators have in common is the drive to take the money they’re making for others, and invest in themselves.
WHAT WERE YOU DOING BEFORE YOU STARTED ‘THE DAPPER CLUB’:
“I’ve always worked in sales. One of the biggest problems I have is problems with authority and being punctual. The last job I had I worked at AT&T in sales, and I was one of the best salesmen there, but I was always late. During that time I was younger and I was partying a lot, so I would come in hungover and not on time. So it got to a point where I was given a final notice from my boss for tardiness. During that time my parents were going through a lot of issues in regards to separation, I was in a long term relationship that was really rocky, at the time. I was drinking and partying a lot and doing drugs. I would consider that one of the low points of my life and I even got arrested at that time, and didn’t show up for work so I got fired.”
Ricardo mentioned to me that he was making good money, so after he got fired, he needed a plan to maintain his current way of living. He attempted to get other jobs but would fail his drug tests and his background checks would never clear because of his record. At this point in his life is when ‘The Dapper Club’ started to marinate in his mind. But that obvious fears of rejection and failure clouded his judgment.
“You know it’s a risky thing to do. You have to invest your money. How are you going to make sales? How are you going to sustain your cost of living?”
“But at that point, I had no choice.”
SO TELL US MORE ABOUT ‘THE DAPPER CLUB’”:
“I didn’t want it to be like any other store, I wanted it to be an experience. From the ambiance, to what you see when you walk through the door. We try to make it a relaxed environment, hence the lounge chairs, the pool table and the bar. I don’t really rely on walk in traffic, I rely more on appointments. When my clients come in I like to dedicate at least an hour or more getting to know them, getting a vibe of their personality and what they like, offer them drinks, really just try and build a relationship with them, so pretty much give them what they really need as opposed to trying to sell them a bunch of items that they don’t.”
I mentioned to Ricardo that that’s a very unique experience. People truly love feeling important and walking into a place where they seem relatable to you and your likes and dislikes can make so much of a difference. Ricardo mentioned to me that another aspect of his business that makes it a lot easier, is that they don’t utilize inventory, since every piece of fabric, per client, is already paid for after their appointments. They only buy fabric and cloth that is already paid for and personalized for their clients.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO OPEN THIS BUSINESS:
“I started applying to places like Hugo Boss, Macy’s, Sak’s, anywhere I could go and sell suits to learn more about the business, but I kept getting turned down. I thought, I would just throw myself into it and learn along the way. About a month into me starting this business, I found out my girlfriend was pregnant and that really gave me even more motivation to push through and I’ve now had this business for three and a half years.”
There’s always a moment when I interview someone where I try and find a common ground but with Ricardo and I, it was very simple. I mentioned to him how it’s tough to follow dreams in my culture because we stick more to realistic goals as opposed to dreaming. He asked me what my ethnicity is and of course we are both proud Mexicans who are attempting to break the mold and inspire others not only in our culture, but everywhere to follow their dreams.
WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST BATTLES RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS:
“I think one of the biggest obstacles is trial and error. I would tell anyone in my position to read as much as they can, learn as much as they can and get a mentor who can help guide them in the right direction. Also being able to balance work and life. I have felt like giving up for sure. I started this business going to people’s houses and there was one point where I was like ‘I can't do this anymore’. But I do have a lot of pride and I won’t allow myself to give up and i'm glad I never did but I was really close to it. That was all due to not knowing a lot, so it is very important to do your research and know as much as you can about your business and how it works.”
We both spoke more in reference to overcoming trials and tribulations. Just keeping the positivity and mentality that you can do something and that it’s all about attitude. “If you overcome the obstacles you’ve faced in the past, you have to think you can overcome the ones you have coming in the future and just keep going” exclaims Ricardo.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR OTHER PASSIONS OTHER THAN CLOTHING:
“My passion for clothes happened more in adulthood. My number one passion is music. I studied music for about 12 years. I play a lot of classical music, a little bit of jazz. My main instrument is the trumpet, but I know how to play piano, guitar and just the basics on everything. You know when you play classical and jazz music you have to be dressed really nice when you perform. I grew a love for Big Bang music people like Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong and I noticed they were always dressed really ‘dapper’ and so I fell in love with that style and that’s where I gained an interest in dressing like that. As far as the tailoring, when i was in the marine corps your uniform had to be tailored and detailed in a certain way.”
Both Ricardo and I share a passion for music and it took me completely by surprise that he was so into classical music, since you don’t see that very often with people in their late twenties. However, during this interview you can literally hear this soothing piano music in the background of Ricardo’s store which I didn’t even notice at the time.
“It creates a relaxed atmosphere for our clients in our club. I want them to come in, have a drink and sit in our relaxed chairs and have that hour be strictly about them” explains Ricardo.
TOP TWO CELEBRITIES YOU WOULD WANT TO DRESS HERE AT ‘THE DAPPER CLUB’:
“Number one would be Ryan Gosling for sure. I mean he dresses well already, but what drew me to him was that movie ‘Crazy Stupid Love’, the part where he dresses the dad at the mall, that’s where I got the idea like ‘man I could do that’. Another guy I would love to dress is the boxer Canelo.”
At this point I start freaking out because, as a Mexican girl, i drool over Canelo and I was definitely not expecting Ricardo to name him. But were both boxing fans so looking back it now it wasn’t a huge surprise.
DO YOU HAVE ANY PLANS FOR THE NEAR FUTURE IN REGARDS TO YOUR BUSINESS:
“Definitely I always think big picture. I don't want to just stay based in Chicago and run this mom and pop store. I would love to expand to LA, New York, Miami and then just create a great brand that hopefully you’ll be able to see in high end stores.”
Definitely check out the ‘The Dapper Club’ for any needs in regards to suits and consider them for your next event so you can come out looking clean!
Follow Ricardo Perez via his Instagram at @mr.dapperclub and his website at www.dapperclubinc.com
Deidre Curiel is a CSUITEMUSIC.com Blogger out of Chicago
Facebook: Deidre Michelle Curiel