The mainstream media doesn’t always portray the Black man in all his glory. Dapper Black Box not only addresses the more fashionable side, but also goes a bit deeper by investing in Black-owned businesses. They hand select 3-4 item each month including a piece of artwork to send to their subscribers. Aaron Barnes, founder of DBB, tells us more about the brand, how it works and why it is, in fact, so necessary.
Dapper Black Box is a unique concept and we’re so excited to learn more! There are several subscription boxes around such as Birchbox and CurlBox but they’re all dedicated to women.
At what point did you say, hey! What about the fellas? When did you start Dapper Black Box? And why?
Well, I couldn’t order one of those (Birchbox, CurlBox, etc.) for myself! I was about to subscribe to SprezzaBox when I stopped myself and thought, “where are the Black businesses?” I was sitting at a Black and Latino male summit at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign on February 28. I was about to subscribe for a SprezzaBox when I realized that hardly any of their featured brands were black-owned. The idea dawned on me that there wasn’t an obvious choice for a subscription service that invested back into the black community. From that thought, Dapper Black Box emerged.
Dapper is a cool word. Some may even say it’s a bit more accessible than the word “dandy” from the Black Dandy movement. What does ‘dapper’ mean to you, exactly?
As a kid, my dad used to use “dapper” all the time when he dressed in suits for church and other formal occasions. So, for a long time, dapper has meant formal clothing and accessories for formal occasions. When I got older and started wearing “formal” items (e.g. ties, dress socks, blazers, etc.) in more casual environments, dapper evolved to mean dressing sharply in any occasion. Typically, sharp dressers have more formal attire.
As a young entrepreneur, especially a young man of color, have you faced any unique challenges with launching your business? Either logistical or plainly put, haters? How did you overcome them?
To be honest, we haven’t experienced any challenges that I would deem unique. So far, our struggles have been pretty typical. Logistically, the most difficult challenge has been shipping our boxes on time every month. We’ve been very fortunate to not have any vocal haters thus far in our development.
DBB supports Black-owned businesses by including 3-4 items in a subscription box each month. Why in your opinion, is it important to “buy Black”?
I’ve answered a question like this recently, and my answer hasn’t changed. Buying black helps free us from mental slavery, develops long-term wealth, and increases our political leverage.
What is one item in your personal closet that when you rock it, you feel like the most dapper guy around?
Easily the shirt-tail garters from KK&Jay that we featured in the Carver Dapper Black Box. Every dapper guy needs a pair of those.
Some would argue that “clothes don’t make the man”. Is there a direct correlation between the exterior — a well-fitted suit or new tie — and how a man feels on the inside? Do you think conscious fashion can manifest real change in our community?
I think it is possible to affect your internal feelings by changing or improving your exterior presentation—similar to how forcing yourself to smile has been scientifically shown to positively affect your mood. Conscious fashion can manifest in to real change in our community if, and only if, the conscious part sticks. We’re not in the fashion business. We’re in the idea business. To me, fashion was just one simple way to continue the conscious conversation in a meaningful way.
No doubt there are tons of Black businesses around, but they may not be on our radar just yet. How do you go about finding which brands to include in the box? And can you share two or three that we should definitely keep our eyes on?
I find many Black businesses online through Instagram. There are some really great efforts to organize all of the Black businesses out there in online directories. It’s also been great that businesses have started reaching out to us more often. Three businesses to keep an eye out for are Harrison Blake Apparel, Talley & Twine, and Bevel.
Christmas is right around the corner! Tell us, please, how we can subscribe to DBB and keep the men in our lives looking fabulous and sleek!
Subscribing is easy! Visit our website and click ‘Invest’ to begin a monthly recurring subscription for $28/month. Click ‘Gift Options’ to begin a 1, 3, or 6-month subscription where you receive a discount for paying upfront!
We’re big fans of music at LMDES. Once our fellas have their ‘fit, and we’re sure they already have their signature walk down, they’ll need some tunes to match! Who are 3 artists/albums/songs you’ve had on repeat recently?
I love music too! Three albums I’ve been playing a lot lately are “Leave It All Behind” –Foreign Exchange, “Church In These Streets” – Jeezy, and “Mailbox Money” – Nipsey Hussle.
Who is your target demographic? Do you feel there's an age limit for DBB?
Our ideal demographic consists of people who are interested in supporting black owned businesses. Of course, I personally want for other blacks to make up the majority of subscribers, but I recognize that for our financial and political wealth to really grow, we’ll need to garner support from others. I think dapper knows no age limit. Practically, anyone with a PayPal account can join the DBB Family. We currently ship to the lower 48 United States. We’re most interested spreading the conscious conversation throughout the US, but it is definitely globally relevant.
Interview and text by Danni Roseman. Danni, Community + Content Director at Las Morenas de España, is a twenty-something, Chicago native currently residing in Madrid. Lover of language, words, and travel, she's managed to combine all of her passions through her work. In her free time, you can find her exploring the winding streets of Madrid, hunting down good flight deals, planning her next adventure and writing & researching for LMDES. Danni loves spicy food, natural hair, music and of course, her wonderful life partner. If you need to find her, she’s the girl with huge hair and her face buried in her Kindle.