Someone once told me that dynamite comes in small packages.
Well, having said that I need to introduce you to a new talent and a wonderful personality who brings a valuable fashion viewpoint which is definitely worth talking about. Meet Sam Ratcliffe who stands just about five foot tall but she packs a fashion punch that can top a Manhattan skyline.
Sam is the owner and operator of Vegas Rock Dog (VRD) (visit www.vegasrockdog.com for more information). Sam started doing business in 2005 and she is currently based in Las Vegas.
Although originally hailing from Sheffield, England, Sam now calls Vegas home but she never lost sight of her European upbringing and fashion pedigree.
Beginning as the “dog lady” and catering just to dogs, Sam’s business soon exploded after a few months and pretty soon people were asking for the same treatment that the dogs were getting.
Talk about getting out of the dog house!
Today, Sam’s business is thriving and it splits attention between catering to pet lovers and humans alike.
In addition to selling simply fabulous products, Sam is also a multi-faceted media-ite who hosts a radio show and produces a newsletter.
In fact, if you spend some time with Sam you might even think she is a television personality. That’s because she is very engaging and a marketing/networking maven.
Sam also has an uncanny ability to get her audience involved as she offers something for people to consider and explore. The girl will definitely get you reaching. But there’s more. Sam seems to have a good grasp on the fashion pulse not only for man but also man’s best friend. Interesting concept to say the least.
Married to talented saxophonist James D’Arrigo (definitely an artist worth checking out in his own right) entertainment and fashion seem to run in the family.
So far so good. But, to put Sam’s products to the test I bought a doo rag from VRD to check out the products. Here’s my purchase:
All I have to say is that I wear this item all the time. Comfortable and fashionable, indeed. Enough said. So the product passed the test.
Well, then came the fun part.
I had to sit down with Sam and hear what she had to say. Fast forward: I was energized just listening to her and to be honest I have always admired people who can achieve the opposite of what Neil Peart wrote in “Limelight.” (Remember that line that said something about pretending strangers are long awaited friends?). So, without any further a-“doo” let’s chat with Sam.
Q: Sam, you have a different business that’s for sure. Tell us about how you got started.
A: Frankly, my business started when I moved to Vegas and we got our first dog. We had rescued her. Since I lived a life of music anyway I thought about combining the two; my love for animals and fashion. After all I am the crazy dog lady. (Laughs) Anyway, my business started as a dog clothing company or at least that was my focus. That’s all we were at first but I did have t-shirts too. So I would be out and musicians would see the t-shirts and ask me where I got them from. Then the musicians started asking where they could get a shirt of their own and that’s how we started the “human” aspect of it which started shortly after we launched the company. In fact, it only took a few months.
Q: Today, how much of your business is split between the animal side and the human side?
A: Even though it changes all the time I would say 60/40 with the greater amount being on the animal side. But I did see a big change when we started doing rock ‘n roll dog ties. That is a cute product. What is so nice about it is that you have to measure your dog’s neck. Now, we have a lot of people asking for dog bow ties. With that we will see a shift which is why I said it changes all the time. So when we come out with a new human product we will again see a shift.
Q: You also have a radio show and somehow weave that into your business plan. What was the impetus with that? Is that unusual for a fashion site?
A: That came about as my effort to bring together the dog community. In any portion of the country where there is rescue there is a lot of politics. So I felt the need to bring people together where they can share ideas and information. We try to get people to work with one another and we try to keep it fresh. The networking is amazing and we have connected with a lot of businesses. That is the purpose of the radio show and I really cannot understate the importance of networking. If you network with the same group all the time I think you miss out on a lot of stuff.
Q: Can you give us some basic tips on fashion?
A: It’s obvious but I see people do it all the time. They don’t create their own style and they try too hard. Instead of that you have to find stuff that fits you well. At the same time you want to take a risk and try a lot of things. You also have to do your own research. See what’s out there. Go “costuming” as I call it. I also think it’s important that people find their “signature” in fashion. Frankly, I think that Europe is so much better in terms of fashion than the United States. Believe me, it’s worlds apart. There are more choices there and you will never walk through a mall there and think you can’t find anything to wear. In Europe, for example, people don’t stop being fashionable because of their age. You will see mums wearing whatever is on the charts regardless of their age. They also don’t stop listening to music at a certain age. Oh, one more thing. Don’t get stuck in an era. Stay current. And remember, fashion is a fun thing or at least it should be.
Q: Are there any no-nos of fashion that people should avoid?
A: Definitely. As I said, you want your own style. It’s cliché but true. You have to be you and you will know if you are not being you. The clothes won’t fit and you won’t feel comfortable. Avoid trying to copy someone or dress like someone else. Also, I sometimes see people hide in their clothes. Make sure they fit and fit you right. Too big can make you look sloppy and too tight makes you look overweight because it’s too tight. Everyone is different. You are who you are and hiding sometimes can make things worse. Also, in terms of length, you never want to wear pants that are too short. It looks terrible. In terms of accessories, don’t overdo them either. If you do you can look too “costumy” in the sense that people see the accessories but not you. Otherwise, you will look like you came out of a Halloween store.
Q: To be more specific what are your suggestions for the male musician in terms of fashion?
A: My thought is don’t go the usual black on black. You know, black jeans and a black t-shirt. I see it all the time and blacks don’t match so to speak. Like I said before, you have to carve out your own style and you don’t want to look like you are trying too hard. Wear what you like and make sure its fits well. Another flaw I see is that people think that because they are in music that they are fashionable. That’s not necessarily true. Again, it’s your thing that you need to find. For example, cool cuffs might be your thing. If so, go with it. Avoid a costume show and that’s where I think most musicians fail. Another mistake I see is don’t wear a trend just because it’s a trend. Don’t do it. This is how I plan my own fashion and I can’t see why anyone would not do the same. And again, don’t be foolish enough to confuse musical talent with fashion sense.
Q: Nowadays a lot of shopping is done over the internet. Do you have any tips about shopping online?
A: Yes. Shopping online is simply a reality of life nowadays. The trick is to communicate with the vendor and that’s because it’s hard sometimes to translate clothing. Go to their social media for starters. You just never know what the fit will be. Ask questions and seek answers before you buy. Also, look for return shipping. You don’t want to have to get stuck in paying two shipping charges. Also look for deals. In my case, if you look in my newsletter you can find information about discounts. That’s also important. Finally, once you find someone you like stick with them.
Q: What about simply going to your local store in the mall and buying merchandise?
A: My answer is no. It’s tacky. It’s not even real leather half the time. That type of merchandise is horrible and frankly, it looks cheesy. I would not do it unless you can find an artist that actually works with leather. You style and fashion will be comprised and that’s not wise. Musicians don’t seem to want to compromise with their equipment so why would they want to compromise with their clothes and accessories?
Q: Sam, for you and your business, what’s in your future?
A: I can see me headed to a TV show. One that really gets to the community and one that is a magazine type show. That means features and the like. I am also looking at a store. In England for example, there is old and stylish architecture and stores. I am not looking for a strip mall type venue.
– K bo