Joe Brodsky , Chief Gentleman of Dapper Pins & Cuffs, has been making things and doing odd jobs to make money as long as he can remember. He loves saying "Yes" to opportunities and learning on
the fly. While living in Alaska, he started doing custom woodworking projects for friends and learned how to weld, eventually profiting from that endeavor as well. He and his family moved from Anchorage to North Texas a few years ago so his daughter, and now infant son, could grow up knowing his wife's family and being closer to my own parents in New York. They are both teachers, leaving a lot of free time during the hot summers of Texas. He was restless and needed to create something, but his woodworking and welding endeavors were no longer safe to house in his garage or quiet enough to be in a suburban environment.
He started the company over Christmas break 2016 because, at that particular point in time, many passions and situations intersected and inspired him to put his ideas into action. As a teacher and coach for at-risk youth in Dallas, He dresses in a suit most weekdays to show the young men he teaches how to dress nicely. This is a habit that he started as a teacher-coach in Anchorage, Alaska, and upstate New York. This desire
to demonstrate proper attire had him scouring the internet for products
he liked and were affordable. He liked stores like Oxford Square, Harrison Blake Apparel, and VanCity Squares, but their products were
expensive and not earth-conscious, and he only liked a few of their products. Joe started taking unused materials from his mother-in-law's quilting fabric stash to make his own lapel pins. His mother-in-law, affectionately known as Doobie, showed him how to use fabric buttons, and he took the rest from there. He made dozens of pins in October and November, just filling the time. Eventually, he realized he had too many to justify, and his products were just as good or better than those businesses he liked so much. From there, Joe just needed another push.
His sister-in-law had just joined Etsy as a seller, and Joe saw an opportunity on the platform as well. He has always been awed by the amount of fabric sitting in stores and the constant need to purchase clothes, give them away, and purchase new clothes to eventually give away. Joe worked closely as a kid with a great businessman, Johnny
Mitchell, in Binghamton, who ran a vintage clothing store. He was amazed that people were buying forty year old clothing when new clothes were still being created. That never made sense to me. So, in December, he decided to do the same thing as Johnny. He would give old fabric new life. He would rescue the forgotten. He would use the unusable. A pin doesn't need much fabric to be made, and he knew he had a keen eye for cool looks. He started his Etsy shop with those ideals in mind.
Since then, Joe has looked for more things to upcycle, including Scrabble tiles and his father-in-law's shotgun shells and bullets (with more to come!). All of the things he creates and makes by hand he wears or would want to wear. He learned from listening to podcasts like "How I Built This"
and talking with entrepreneurs all my life, that if he wants something, someone else does too.
Joe's motivation for doing this was to learn to create in a new way. Instead of welding and woodworking, he cuts, sews, and stamps and creates using materials that most see as useless. He learned everything he had to know. His wife taught him to sew on a sewing machine. In fact, he took his first pocket square into his classroom to show his students that he struggled with learning too. His in-laws have taught him how to set up a business, use Etsy, and make some products. He learned to use
tools that he never used before, and he can do it quietly at all hours of the day, filling his summer hours indoors to avoid heatstroke.
He makes things he wants when he wants; when he's done, and he loves that he can keep it or pass it along to someone else. His products are at a price point that makes everything affordable, because he want to share his work with others.
Best of all, the things he makes he can teach his children to make as they get older. He teaches colors, shapes, and patterns to his two-year-old. She can name men's accessories, which he thinks is hilarious and I think is absolutely adorable! He uses
this company to teach them to create and the skills to do it. He can also teach them business practices and raise them to be thoughtful about the clothes they buy and the products they consume. He wants to show them he makes mistakes, and that's okay. He is eager to can teach them money management and so happy that he
can spend time with them. He also decided, the very day he set up his company, that he would match the income of the company every year and set that aside for their college fund. Every sale he makes benefits them, and that is so fulfilling to him as a father and a business owner. He may
be the Chief Gentleman, but he does this for his kids just as much as for his own entertainment!
I noticed the charming and unique quality of Joe's craftsmanship on Instagram. Many of the stylish men I look to for style inspiration, especially when styling looks for my son, husband, and shopping for my dad have been wearing items from the amazing Dapper Pins and Cuffs etsy shop found here.
Find Bilal Malik of @mr_bilalmalik here.
Find Dave Arango of @dappered.dave here.
After months of admiring the unique items from Dapper Pins & Cuffs on others, I decided to explore the shop and found the most perfect items for my dad!
Thank you so much for your time and attention. I hope you enjoyed this post and are delighted and inspired as I am by this 'Chief Gentleman' and his remarkable hand-made upcycled vintage accessories!
I would love to connect with you so feel free to leave a comment or even a link If you have something to share.