Q&A with Caz Little of Dashing Hounds Men's Styling
Tuesday, December 15, 2015
Posted by: Melanie Chiew
Caz (Caroline) Little grew up in Mt. Duneed, a small country town just out of Geelong on 22 acres of land; so there was plenty of space to run around and be a kid, as well as learning about farm life.
Caz's parents, operated a children's day care centre from inside their home. It was started for surf coast families who drove into the city each day for work. The youngest of 11 siblings, but only growing up with 5, it was a busy and loud household, with the extra 15-30 day care children running around each day. Mum stayed home running the day care and property each day and Dad drove up the highway to Melbourne to work. They wanted to ensure all their children had a private college education as neither of them did, so it meant both parents were extremely hard working. Catching a taxi to Freshwater Creek to school most days was common! They sent the 3 youngest to a local primary school which only had 29 kids. Caz was the only girl in her grade from prep to grade six! Later, Caz went to an all girls College which then closed down after a year and then to The Geelong College to complete her VCE.
At the age of 31, Caz took a three week holiday to the States with her close friend Anna. Day dreaming in Madison Square Park one day, Caz and Anna made a pact to each other that they would both move to New York. Six months later, applying for jobs, selling her beloved 1962 EJ Holden Wagon, Caz packed up her life and left for NYC. Pounding the pavement, it was tough work looking for work during the hot Summer months. Having spent most of her working life in the denim industry, it was tricky as most denim companies are based in California, the denim capital. It was suggested to her by a good mate that she should go for the O1-Visa, taking a punt to set up her existing business, Dashing Hounds. A meeting with a NYC attorney, the decision was quickly made to move back to Melbourne and rekindle her life, to then patiently wait for the approval notice. 8-months of working three jobs, Caz almost gave up hope that it was ever going to happen. Then one day she received an e-mail from her NYC attorney that her O1-Visa was finally approved! Now Caz lives in Williamsburg Brooklyn, working mainly from home and pounding the pavement to re-build her empire, Dashing Hounds.
Tell us a little bit about your background – where did your interest in fashion begin and how did it lead to starting Dashing Hounds Men’s Styling?
I have showed a genuine interest in Fashion from a young age, which most likely stemmed from both my grandmothers, one was a seamstress whom I have never met and the other a mother craft nurse. As a young girl, I was always playing dress ups in my mother's huge walk-in wardrobe, poking through my Father's cufflink collection and polishing my teacher's shoes! From the age of 15, I knew I wanted to study Fashion. I'd spent hours in my Father's office, cold-calling fashion companies; before Google made it easy. Once completing a Diploma in Fashion Design, and applying for a lot of jobs, I had 3 job offers on the table. I took a role with a mid-size denim company based in Collingwood, Melbourne as a production/design assistant.
More than 15 years now I have worked in the rag trade, designing menswear for well-known Australian brands such as Elwood Denim Co, Austin Group, Lee Jeans, Bardot, Bradmill, in Melbourne and Sydney. I have also been styling Television stars at Channel 9 and The AFL Footy Show LIVE for the past 3 years. I got to a point where I wanted more than just being a ''menswear designer". It became obvious to me that men only wanted to wear 5 colors and about 5 shapes. Waking up at 3am one morning in 2012, the name Dashing Hounds came to me, along with an idea to start a business to help everyday men shop for clothing, helping them dress better!
What makes your work unique? What can we expect to discover?
Having designed menswear and styling TV stars, dressing men is unique. I am a firm believer in sticking to what you know. Find something you are passionate about, do it and do it well. I just re-built the Dashing Hounds website recently, to showcase exactly what Dashing Hounds is to all my potential clients. Take a look: www.dashinghounds.co
Ideas are constantly flowing and I am now excited to be now representing Triumph & Disaster- a men's skincare and hair grooming line hailed from New Zealand by cricketing legend Dion Nash. The range is all naturally derived, made with indigenous ingredients from NZ, Tahiti and Australia. I also represent Mr.ELK, a men's leather goods brand by the iconic Melbourne company ELK Accessories. Innovative designs, affordable quality and ethically produced leather goods.
I am super passionate about supporting local brands, especially brands derived by nature and who are environmentally and ethically conscience. New Yorkers will now will have the chance to discover the emerging brands who are making a difference from down under.
This is something that I have always wanted to do with my business Dashing Hounds, so now is the perfect chance to practice what I preach- which is to support local artisans.
What does a typical day for you look like?
I take each day on as it comes. Building a brand and running your business requires 100% commitment & detection. Keeping positive and always remember to just 'keep going'; wise words from my best friend/photographer Sarah Anderson. 6:30am starts with brewing coffee, having breakfast and checking e-mails. I usually start the day with a social post on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Facebook, Snapchat. It never stops. I just am about to set up a social media calendar as it's tough to keep on top of it!
I always try to fit in a daily work out, whether it's going for a walk or run in the morning with my best friend/housemate or hitting the gym. It helps to clear my mind and to work more efficiently during the day, feeling energized and motivated. Cold calling, follow ups, coffee meetings, weekly Skype calls with sales team in LA, Sydney, Melbourne and NZ founder Dion Nash, chatting to retail staff, looking for potential stores, is what a typical day looks like for me- oh and LOTS of coffee. I like to meet up with inspiring people often. It's a good habit I got into when first starting up my business. I think talking it out with people, sharing your thoughts and ideas really keeps you on your toes, as everyone's opinion matters.
I've recently started using Google Sheets to manage my day which I enjoy. I work on my own PR, marketing, social media, selling, shopping, clients….I do it all. I would love to get an intern to help me weekly when things start getting busier. I don't seem to have an OFF button. There is no such thing as 9-5 in my world.
Where in Australia is ‘home’ and what do you miss most about it?
Obviously home is Geelong and the Surf Coast. I like to catch up with close friends and family, but I feel most at home when walking around Fitzroy North, taking in the local vibes, trying out new cafes and bars around Brunswick street. I do miss a GREAT $14 steak night
at the Rainbow Hotel on a Wednesday after work with friends in the courtyard over a few drinks and a game of outdoor pool. I will certainly miss going to the next Golden Plains music festival in March as I just won the ballot!
Where in New York do you go for inspiration?
I love walking to Greenpoint, Transmitter Park, all the way out to the East River. It's quiet, beautiful and usually no one there first thing in the morning. It's the perfect way to take it all in and remind myself about living in NYC. Otherwise, jumping on the L train and hitting the streets of Manhattan is obviously inspiring to anyone. Popping out of the subway and just look up! Sitting in a busy cafe- I love people watching and taking notes for new business ideas.
Name one or two of your favorite men’s designers and why?
I really can't name 1 or 2….Phillip Lim, Acne, Theory, Sandro, APC, Rag & Bone, Woolrich, Club Monaco, Hugo Boss, Raf Simons, my list goes on… I love modern fits, streamline and effortless shapes. Nothing over designed or over engineered. I do appreciate clever
seam detail which Acne do well at. Black, grey, navy, white and indigo. Natural and soft handled fabrics are a must. My favorite men's look is the Scandinavian meets rugged outdoorsmen look. Think Acne and Woolrich did a collection together.
What have you found are the biggest differences between US & Australian men’s fashion?
Textures and layering are the main points of difference. I have been dissevering this more as the weather is changing. Men are great at layering over here in NYC and brands offer a lot in textured fabrics in heavier weights. Australian men are getting there slowly but I feel the men in NYC make a lot more of effort when it comes to men's fashion.
What is one piece of advice you would give our male readers wanting to freshen up their look?
Staples, staples, wardrobe staples. Make sure you review ALL the pieces in your wardrobe. Do you have the key wardrobe staples for Fall? Get rid of any unwanted items that get in the way of you getting dressed each day. Call me and I can help!
What are your plans for Dashing Hounds in the future?
One day I wish to have a team of stylists, working together to help men get dressed and looking good.
How can people find out more about Dashing Hounds?
www.dashinghounds.co OR just call or text me (Caz) to arrange a free consultation over a coffee anytime +1(646) 896.9171. I look forward to meeting you!