‘Clothing from Tea to Tailgates’: An Interview with Designers Lizzy & Shannon of Dakota Martin

February 25, 2008

‘Clothing from tea to tailgates’ is the motto of Dakota Martin, one of the hottest clothing companies based in New York, NY. That same philosophy is what Washington DC glam girls go by. If you are like me, your busy schedule does not allow you to run home and change before happy hour or dinner. That is why I buy work outfits that take me from the office to lunch with clients and then to dinner and dancing.

A friend of mine introduced me to Dakota Martin two years ago; she gave me the Dakota Martin reversible scarf top for my birthday. Since then, I have been a fan. The preppy chic style of Dakota Martin is classic yet contemporary with vibrant hues and luxurious fabrics. Dakota Martin is one of my absolutely favorite clothing lines. I joined the Dakota Martin fan club on Facebook and got a chance to correspond with the design visionaries behind the brand, Lizzy Stall and Shannon Casey. Lizzy and Shannon are two lifelong friends who decided to start a clothing line together. The ladies took time out of their busy New York schedules to talk to me about the label and their style.

Glamour Girl: How did the two of you cross paths?

Lizzy:Shannon and met in our Montessori preschool class. We were best friend, but went to different schools for several years until we were reunited at Agnes Irwin for high school. And again, we were best friends!

Glamour Girl: What inspired you to choose fashion as your career path?

Lizzy:I have always been interested in fashion as a consumer. As a student I’ve always gone down creative paths. Creating–whether it be photography, painting, baking, orchestrating a dinner party, quilting or writing an essay–has always been what really excites me. When looking at professional options I was eager to create something for myself instead of answering to someone else. I have always enjoyed learning about small businesses and how they grow. So the combination of the three made a clothing line a perfect match – also finding a partner that I trusted and had a similar vision to was key.

Shannon: I have always loved fashion and business. Lizzy and I were on student government and we were always scheming up ideas to make money for charity or the school – via selling t-shirts, etc.

 

Glamour Girl:Describe the DM girl. What is important to her and what is her style?

Lizzy:The DM girl likes to have fun and doesn’t take herself too seriously. She loves color, she loves being a girl, and she likes to pop her collar (or many do).

Glamour Girl:What is your signature style?

Lizzy:Collaboratively our look is preppy chic – its in our genes. Individually we vary a bit more – I tend more towards 70s preppy and more girly than Shannon.

Shannon:I dress preppy classic and like to add in trends here and there.

Glamour Girl:Where do you look to for ideas and inspiration for your collections?

Shannon:Everywhere. Magazines. People on the streets. It is endless in NYC.

Lizzy:Everywhere! The street, magazines, random color combinations, something we think is missing in our closets, movies…

Glamour Girl:What is the most important part of a successful collection?

Lizzy:Having a story board. Making the collection cohesive.

Glamour Girl: What is your favorite piece in the collection?

Lizzy:I’d have to say the Allison Mini. As much as I love other pieces, I can pull that out of my closet in the winter for a business meeting, dinner with my dad, or first date drinks and always feel comfortable and appropriate.

Shannon:For Fall 08 – I have to say I love the Charlie poncho in navy.     

Glamour Girl:How does DM fit into the Washingtonian lifestyle?

Lizzy:DM is PERFECT in DC! As I said before, the DM girl loves color, collars, being a girl and having fun – every time I am in DC I see that exact girl all around me…

Shannon:DC is a great market. Our first ever selling trip started in DC…since we believe we have such a great customer base/loyalty in DC. Sherman Pickney was the first store we ever sold to – we love Ethan!

Glamour Girl: Do you have a mentor or another designer you admire? What are the qualities about this person that help you learn and grow in your craft?

Lizzy:There are too many designers I admire to name! They truly run the gamut. From very classic looks like Ralph Lauren, to newer looks like Chloe and Vanessa Bruno and Philip Lim. Chris Benz is a new favorite too. And I’d be lying if I said Jcrew wasn’t an inspiration! They do everyday wear so well while keeping it fun. As far as personal mentors go I would say my parents are both very important to my growth in business. My mother is an extremely creative person. You know it from the minute you walk in her house – everything is meticulously placed and a little boys cowboy boot becomes a work of art in a hallway bathroom. She is a photographer, a quilter, a cook, and a florist. And my grandmother is a painter. Growing up around this was priceless – it has helped me look at things differently, and I was always learning from them. My father is a big small business/entrepreneur advocate, and very knowledgeable on the subjects, so he is a constant backboard for Shannon and I as we come up with different business ideas and as we grow.

Glamour Girl: What is your go-to outfit for a night out or a special evening?

Lizzy: I can’t say I have one. It all depends on the time of year and the event and even my mood. I will say that if I lived somewhere warm 12 months a year I would wear casual long dresses 12 months a year.

Shannon:Right now I love knee high boots.

Glamour Girl: What’s next for you?

Lizzy:For right now we will continue to work on growth – more stores, bigger stores, bigger collection, and we will take it from there. One step at a time!

Glamour Girl: Describe your philosophy about the art of fashion.

Lizzy:As far as the runway goes it is art – and should be respected as that. Some of the creations you see are awe-inspiring and at not frivolous or petty just because they are clothing or because they are expensive. As far as everyday clothing goes I don’t think fashion should ever be taken too seriously – it is fun to be able to drape our bodies in our personalities for the world’s viewing. That being said I hate to see the snobbery that can come into play – as far as I’m concerned if someone is having fun and enjoys what they are wearing – whatever it may be – then good for them!

Glamour Girl: What about fashion as a business?

Shannon:Fashion as a business is not easy to break into. Lizzy and I have learned to stand by our designs and look – no matter what anyone says. We stand by our designs and look.

Glamour Girl: Any fashion advice for Glam Girls out there?

Shannon: Use your own personal style and always buy for pieces you love.

Lizzy: Get pieces that are new and updated but not overly trendy. Make sure that your outfits work in different aspects of your life.

Glamour Girl: What is hot at DM this season?

Shannon: We have cute cashmere dresses with ties on the front that are very hot for spring.

Lizzy: We also have cute silk charmeuse tops with ties as well. This season is all about solids and simple bright colors.

Glamour Girl: Are there any upcoming sales in the Washington, DC area?

Lizzy: We will be in Annapolis, Maryland on Sunday, March 1, 2008 for the Annapolis Warehouse Sale. Annapolis Westin Ballroom, 100 Watergate Circle, Annapolis, MD.

Glamour Girl: What stores can readers buy Dakota Martin in the Washington, DC area?

Lizzy: You can get DM at Sherman Pickney in Georgetown, Ginger in Bethesda, MD and Bailey’s in Annapolis, MD.

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