• The Dandy Cat

Updated: Aug 11

When you are forced to stop it is often worth taking the time to look around a little before you move on.

Lockdown was a trying time for everyone and for small businesses like us the prospect of losing everything we had built up to that point was a very real threat. It felt like we had no control over the outcomes; it was time to go back to the reasons why we wanted to do this in the first place, and for us that means community.

The Dandy Cat is all about you; your sounds, your style, your spirit. Now more than ever it feels that community is an increasingly important part of everyone's lives. When a nation is forced to remain within a few miles of their home it heightens awareness for everything that is good (and bad) about the places we choose to live. We know this and have always been careful to place community at the heart of everything we do. We wanted The Dandy Cat to be your one stop shop for the discerning gentlemen or lady wanting style and quality. We are passionate about proving that style does not mean being a peacock, or using disposable fashion items, but rather it is about timeless, sustainable choices that will provide you with years of joy.

We research the brands we stock thoroughly. We do not stock products that we have not tested ourselves or that have been pushed on us by sales people. We want all our products to be high quality, free from nasty chemicals and to be either locally produced or so uniquely brilliant that we would be crazy not to stock them. If you look at the products we stock there is not a weak one amongst them, there is also not another to be found in any local shop. This was important to us; be good for the town but don’t take away from the businesses of others.

We are very proud of our suppliers, each one has gone above and beyond to move quality products away from disposable culture. Each company we support understands what we want to achieve. They are a mixture of local small batch producers or larger companies renowned for their expertise and craftsmanship, and both supply us with products that are very special indeed. We go out of our way to source these things so that you don’t have to, and if you live locally to us then you are fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of our click and collect, socially distanced, shopping experience, that allows you to order before you travel and then collect your sustainable goodies alongside your less fun, “essentials” shop in town. We want to bring a little bit of elegance back to shopping and make you feel like everything you purchase from us is a treat which you deserve, and believe us, you do deserve it.

During lockdown we have sourced yet more delightful things to enhance your lives and we have been proud to discover how hard our suppliers have been working to assist their local communities and provide support for them in a time of need. Both the Portsmouth Distillery Co. and Corner 53, our gin suppliers, switched at least one of their stills over to manufacture hand sanitiser when the country needed it most and both did this not for profit. We have taken their lead and our own Handy Dandy sanitiser is produced by Portsmouth Distillery Co. with every last penny from each unit sold going to charity.

Our wash bags, belts and wallets are all made from recycled leather and fire hose by Elvis and Kresse who donate thousands each year to support many charities through the sales of these products. Mr. Masey’s Emporium of Beards who hand make and supply all our colognes and beard oils are a company founded on giving back and supporting local communities. Not only do they help at local food banks but they also support youth development and environmental causes both of which are very close to our core principles at The Dandy Cat. Even our humble face masks are charitable. Each one is manufactured out of off cuts from the luxury silk industry (yes these are those same masks you saw in Liberty), sold for no profit and support key charities today. Our charming supplier of the best hats in Britain, Sussex Tweed, have also moved part of their production line to producing face masks, so if you fancy a linen look, they can provide you with a mask to match your hat.

What we want to prove is that being elegant, being stylish and being smart is not only achievable at a reasonable cost, but it is also easy to do sustainably.

We began our story with an aim to bring accessible style to the local community and after pausing to look around, we realise that through our partners we are helping to do so much more. As we move into the forced re-birth of The Dandy Cat we want to thank everyone who has supported us through thick and thin (yes, this does mean you) and invite you all to continue to be part of our wonderful community of Dandy Cats, and we promise you all, it will only get better.

Want to know more about our Dandy suppliers? Click these links:

  • The Dandy Cat

When we first considered opening a Gentlemen’s emporium, long before we had any real plans as to how we should go about making our ideas reality, we knew we wanted there to be three elements that made our place different; sounds, style and spirit. These three elements were so important to us that a lot further down the line we embedded them in our logo, a decision that has caused much debate amongst those that stop to read the sign.

“What does that mean?”

“What sort of a business are you?”

“Your logo says literally nothing about what you do!”

The last one is my favourite, but that one has already been covered in a previous post.

We thought we should take time to break down the whys of our three elements over the next few posts and perhaps expand them into separate blog sections as time goes on, but then again, seeing as these posts are few and far between, we may get distracted and try a different approach. Whatever the future holds, today we thought we should start with “Sounds”.

We love music. Those who have been in the shop will know we delight in playing little known mid-century gems alongside bona fide classics from a variety of genres. Our heart is in rock and roll, jazz and blues alongside ska, soul and reggae, but to be honest no genre will go un-listened. Whilst we are not in love with all genres, we truly believe that there is something good to be found in every type of music if you listen hard enough, but who really listens these days?

When we told people our idea to play this varied selection of music in the shop and allow those in the chair to choose the music we played, we were told it was ridiculous. One person even went so far as to suggest that we would drive people from the shop because no one likes the music we listen to.

When we went further and told them that we were only going to play vinyl, they thought we were mad. Even our friends and supplier of our sounds “Vinyl Matters” thought the idea was a bit of a stretch for most people. We dug our heels in though. Vinyl is to our ears the best way to appreciate music and has the added pleasure of being ever so slightly theatrical. The dilemma of choosing the album, the delicate removal of the disc from its sleeve and the gentle placing of it on the platter; the slow, weighted drop of the needle, the first crackle of the precious disc and finally, after a slightly too long pause, the blast of the music.

What we have discovered is that everyone shares the love of this. Young or old there is either a sense of wonder at how sound can come from a big, black disc, or a nostalgic memory of a time before streaming, when you had to make an effort to hear music.

We are not vinyl purists with an amp and player that cost more than your car, we have a very modest set up, but we do love the way that vinyl makes you listen. The musicians and producers spent months choosing the order in which you should listen to their music, vinyl reminds you of that painstakingly curated journey.

I have lost count of the amount of times I have explained the process of putting on a record to someone under 20, or how many times the vinyl has introduced those in the shop to new music or classic albums. We don’t sell the music, but we do celebrate it.

The vinyl "sounds" were there right at the beginning of the idea for The Dandy Cat, and they continue to bring joy today. You choose the album, we play it. You can even bring in your own record to put on the player, we enjoy it when you do, after all, we want to hear new sounds too.

“Your shop makes me want to dance” was a quote from a recent customer, and very often we do.

The plan is to offer up a few of our favourite records in this blog, so look out for some shonky, half remembered reviews later in the year but until then, just drop in and take a look or a listen to our selection.

  • The Dandy Cat

It is the end of January, the thrill of the festive season is but a dull memory and the heavy grey skies of Winter have once again failed to bring any of the promised glamour of snow and ice - so what can lift your mood at this time of year?

The answer, if you ask a search engine, is Valentine’s day. We all know the name of this saint can spark as much hatred as love but that doesn’t stop his search engine prowess being top-of-the-game at this time of year. The top three answers for how to celebrate the day of the saint are:

1. Eat chocolate

2. Drink wine

3. Cook a meal

Forgive us for being unromantic, but that sounds like an average evening alone for 90% of the population and we here at The Dandy Cat feel you could do a little bit better than gorge on empty calories to lift you spirits.

To begin a perfect February 14th, we recommend you at least spruce yourself up a little. I know you think your routine of rubbing soap over our hair, beard and body on a daily basis is enough to make you stand out in the crowd, but if we are being honest with ourselves, and I think we should be, this is not the routine of the proud. You are worth more than a bar of soap and you know it, you just haven’t found the right grooming solution yet and have been a little afraid to ask.

Our advice would be to pop in store and take a look at what alternatives we offer, but you don’t even need to do that, you can look at all our “nice things” online, choose your favourites and then click and collect them instore thereby bypassing that fearful conversation about products or routine – just walk in, pick up your goods and run away. Easy.

With the new found confidence you will get from using #proper body wash, shampoo and beard oil (or if you prefer a clean shave one of our delightful razors, shaving brushes and shaving creams) you can proudly book yourself an appointment online for a spruce up with our master barber. Our job is to make you look and feel better. To that end each client can sip a beverage of their choice in the chair, and because we are fully licensed you can also purchase a bottle of something to take away – we recommend Hawkins Bros. Sparkling English Wine at this time, or indeed any time of year.

Our Dandy top three for the day of the saint then:

1. Get a proper haircut (not the one your mum chose for you and you haven’t thought to change)

2. Take a bit of care in your daily cleansing routine. We can help with everything you didn’t want to ask the girl behind the counter in Boots about – deodorant, colognes etc.

3. Buy a bottle of Hawkins Bros. award winning English sparkling wine from us and fizz into February.

None of the above is exclusively preserved for those who plan an evening of romance and chocolate, we all know that Valentine’s Day is a joy for some and a pest to many, but you cannot deny that taking a little time to pamper yourself in the middle of the most miserable of months will lift even the darkest of spirits.

Book the barber and peruse our catalogue of “nice things” online today, you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your fireside chair, what could be saintlier than that?

© The Dandy Cat Ltd.