A Message from Dolly September 22 2017
It’s been 12 years since I first had the idea for Dollydagger and 11 years since we launched online.
We have been featured in mainstream publications such as Harpers Bazaar, Vogue, The Sunday Times and Disorder Magazine and in amazing design-led magazines such as DPI from Taiwan and Nude (more of this later!)
We were the first of a kind; the first to mix-up vintage style dresses with hi-top trainers, custom made jewellery, collectable robots and Tiki home ware. We coined the phrase 'vintage vixen' and gave our store a name that reflected our love of music.
We have stocked amazing independent labels, collaborations with our friends and unique one-off pieces alongside the favourite brands we all know and love and we have had a great time doing it.
I always spent a lot of time choosing well-made quality products, that were different and could not be found anywhere else and our customers really embraced it.
The last few years have been extremely difficult and have really taken their toll on the business and on me personally. I have battled to keep things going but I’m not winning, customer service has suffered and I really need a rest.
So on 1st December 2017 Dollydagger will close its doors.
BUT we will be back some time next year with a brand new collection and BIG changes!
I’d like to apologise to anyone who has had slow service from me these last 12 months; I cringe every time I think about it, which is why I know it’s time to stop.
Our sale will continue until Midnight on 30th November and you can continue to shop until then. Customer service will remain open to process returns and respond to other queries until 31st January 2018.
See you soon!
Owner and Designer at Dollydagger
We are Closing! For Now... September 22 2017
There are some changes afoot at Dollydagger. As we approach the end of our 12th year we have decided to take a break but before we do that we wanted to explain a few things, talk about our plans for the future and reminisce a little on the past.
We’ve worked with Suzy Prince for many years – Suzy was the founder and editor of arts and culture magazine Nude, which featured Dollydagger regularly. And we thought that a nice way to talk about what’s been happening, and what’s coming up, would be for Dolly’s doyenne Emma Ayres to sit down with Suzy and have a chat.
Suzy: So much to say; where shall we start?
Emma: Well, I think now would be a good time to mention that after 12 years of trading I have decided to close Dollydagger; not permanently but for the foreseeable future, while I take stock and get some well-earned rest!
When we closed our Brighton shop it was the end of a chapter and the beginning of an extremely difficult period during which I have battled to keep things going and I know I haven’t done an especially good job!
Suzy: For people who are new to Dollydagger, plus as a reminder to long term devotees, let’s talk about where it all started and the history.
Emma: I often find myself feeling the need to explain to people that we’ve been around for a long time and we really were the first boutique of its kind. We were pre-Modcloth and at the time there were very few lifestyle stores or retro brands around and certainly nobody that looked like we did. This was of course, great for us and meant we got lots of press coverage and a really loyal customer base.
I set Dollydagger up because I wanted to find things that suited me and were to my taste, that were still good quality but just had that alternative twist.
Suzy: When you started out, were you personally craving a career change? Was there some kind of lightbulb moment? This was an unusual path to take back in those days.
Emma: At the time I started Dollydagger, I had just left a senior management position in a global IT company and was doing very well for myself. Dollydagger happened naturally in the sense that it was almost an accident. I’d been in the same company, for about nine years. We’d been through so many reorganisations that I was just tired of it. I knew that I needed a change, so I took a year off and went travelling.
As part of that, my friend and I did a road trip from San Francisco down the West Coast and we went to the Coachella Festival. While I was there I realised I’d lost the corporate drive that I once used to have, where I was able to work 18 hour days and then get up for a breakfast meeting at 7.00 am. I think my days of wearing a suit were just… over, and I just couldn’t get enthusiastic about it anymore. In California we kept seeing all of these cool brands – one called Cardboard Robot stood out at the time – they were great. And I bought one of their T-shirts and I loved it and thought, ‘why can’t I get this stuff at home?’ And then, that was it, my lightbulb went off and I started writing down every time I saw a brand that I liked.
I just thought: I can do this. I can combine music and clothes: introduce people to new music as well as clothes, and work with smaller brands.
Suzy: The thing I’ve always loved about Dollydagger is the quality of the products that you sell, and your keen eye when it comes to selecting what you sell. It’s always been a gloriously eclectic site…
Emma: From the outset it was about finding quality clothes and products and accessories. I’m most interested in good design and while I know we’re well-known right now for doing retro, we haven’t always been like that; we just streamlined during the recession for what people wanted, whereas now ultimately I want to return to how it began. I think you can take good design from every decade.
Suzy: Did you find that it took off quite quickly when you launched it?
Emma: I started it in 2005; we hadn’t built a site then, but just to get things going I did some graphics, set up a MySpace page, wrote a description of what it was going to look like… I had some brands in mind that I knew we were going to stock so we used some of their imagery.
We just spammed the hell out of people, you could still get away with that back then! And it went really rapidly from 0 to about 30,000 MySpace fans. Obviously about half of them were porn stars, but half of them weren’t and it was brilliant.
We were on Myspace for at least nine months before the site launched. We launched for actual trading on the 6 May 2006. And we didn’t get an order on the first day and I was gutted. And then on the second day I got an order. And then I got another order, and suddenly we got lots of orders and every day I had to go down to the post office with three big bags full of parcels. I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. We were able to spend the money on really good customer service and coming up with cool new ideas.
We didn’t have any particular full on plan at first, but creativity is a rolling stone: you have to give it a push and then once it gets going it quickly speeds up, and the more you do. So we started off with lots of ideas and then when it got going I was like ‘we can do this’ and ‘we can do that’. And we just did so many different things: it was great.
Suzy: The shopping categories were always great fun too. When you started out almost no other sites seemed to do that.
Emma: When I designed the site I thought, ‘how do I want to shop that I can’t shop now? So you couldn’t shop by colour on ASOS at the time, for example, and I couldn’t see why not. I also wanted to shop by theme so I had all of these categories such as ‘Vintage Vixen’ and ‘Kawaii Cute’.
So the site didn’t look like other websites. It was very bright and quite young-looking, even though our target customer has never been age-related. It was more to do with a type of person and age is irrelevant really – if you’re into that kind of thing: you’re into it whether you’re 15 or 50.
Back then I had to import stuff because we couldn’t get what we wanted in this country. So in order for Dollydagger to look how I wanted I had to import - from the outset I would bring brands in from the US, like Cardboard Robot and Tarina Tarantino - and also eventually to have my own line.
Suzy: Was there any downside to it at first?
Emma: It was hard work, don’t get me wrong. It was hard to get things done as well then; things like getting an email coded or any changes to the website were so expensive, so I taught myself to code. We managed our own database and back end on our own server and I taught the girls who worked for me to modify the back end database as well. You waste money on things, though, because when you start a new business you try everything to see what works.
As it took off so quickly, I rapidly outgrew my flat in Belsize Park: the whole house was full of clothes. So in 2007 I moved to Brighton because I couldn’t find premises in London that were affordable. And I liked the idea of Brighton, which seemed to fit with us really well in terms of culture and attitude. I ran it from home for a bit, then took on my first employees in my house. My front room was the Dollydagger office, and upstairs were the stock rooms and then when we got to five of us, we took on a grotty industrial unit in Hove – the cheapest thing I could find. It was a couple of thousand Sq ft worth of warehouse and we painted it, and it was fine.
Suzy: It sounds like such an exciting thing to do…
Emma: Initially, getting it going was like the craziest rollercoaster that I’d ever been on. I mean, I didn’t know anything about fashion – I still don’t know anything about fashion. I don’t care anything about fashion.
Suzy: Do you think that’s part of the beauty about Dollydagger? I always have done because I don’t know anything about it either and so it really appeals to me in a way that a traditional fashion website wouldn’t?
Emma: You just know what you like and I knew what I liked and I thought other people might like it too.
It was always fun. It couldn’t not be, because we were being really creative, and trying out different things. Sometimes we did stupid things that didn’t work. But there was room then to make mistakes. The team I had working for me were fantastic. I was really lucky to have some brilliant people, all of whom are still doing great things.
They were the good times. We were doing really well.
Suzy: So what was the point where things started to tip over?
Emma: Everything was pretty much perfect, but then the recession kicked in. We actually rode it out for about two years but by 2009 we started to feel the strain, mostly because people didn’t want to buy quality any more.
Over the last 10 years the scene has evolved and there are now a million retro brands. I think the problem is that when the market becomes saturated, the people that come in later are just interested in making money. They’re not interested in being creative; they just copy what’s been before. And if during the recession everyone’s been shopping with those brands it’s left independents like us lean, so we haven’t had the money to invest in new styles and designs. So it stagnates because ultimately if you stop buying your small labels and independents they stop being able to produce great stuff for you. It’s no different to the reason why if I get a coffee, I don’t go to Starbucks: I go to my local, independent coffee shop because I’d rather they had the money.
It became very difficult to make a profit, and when you’re a small business and you don’t have lines of credit and you don’t make a profit then you can’t buy more stock. So it became very tight. And we had to cut corners on customer service: we were no longer able to wrap things in beautiful printed tissue and put lots of free gifts in. And the difference is that the big retailers have economies of scale so their postage is cheaper. The perception is ‘Ooh, £5 for postage and packing– that’s a lot” but that’s actually less than it costs us.
Also the market became saturated with copycat brands. It just became very, very difficult to maintain quality, but I was adamant that I didn’t want to do anything other than continue with the quality. Had I gone to China or changed the way we did things then maybe we’d have had more money to spend, but that just didn’t fit with what I wanted Dollydagger to be.
And then we got to a point where it was like, ‘what’s next’. It was the recession, we were ticking along. Everyone else was really struggling but we weren’t at that point, but lots of people had started to pop up who looked a bit like us.
Suzy: And that’s why you decided to push things forward and open the shop?
Emma: Not as consciously as that. I was in Brighton and I’d just spent some time with a friend and I walked up through the Lanes and I saw that a shop had come up which had Dollydagger written all over it, and I contacted the letting agent on the off-chance. I had a close look, and it was perfect.
Every single member of staff went in and we gutted the shop ourselves because we couldn’t afford to kit it out otherwise, so it was lots of late nights, and roping in friends and family. It looked fantastic. The shop did really well and we pretty much broke even straight away.
Suzy: What happened? Why is the shop not up and running now in that case?
Emma: It became very difficult quite quickly. Footfall to the area dropped off because a lot of shops closed around us. At one point it was just us, a restaurant and a pub because all the other shops around us had closed. Business rates kept going up… It just became really, really hard and it became a drain on our resources in the end. And then it got sold to somebody who wanted the premises for himself. So ultimately I didn’t have any choice but to pack up and leave and bring the entirety of Dollydagger back to Oxfordshire, which is where I am now. It wasn’t a pleasant time and I probably should have taken some time off then to re-evaluate and decide what to do, but I still had bills to pay and I wasn’t really in a position to just stop.
Suzy: Have you found that people have been understanding?
Emma: Honestly the customers are really great. I still know the names of all of our early customers and now when they come and see me I’m ‘I know you – you’re quite old now!’ (laughs) because obviously a whole decade has passed. But now, moving back to dealing with everyone directly, instead of having someone else do it, meant that I got to talk to people again and I’d actually forgotten how much I liked that part of it, because when you’re busy doing all of the other stuff you don’t get to do that anymore.
Dollydagger is like my baby, which I know is a cliché, but it’s hard to let go; sometimes you don’t make decisions based upon what the right thing to do is as a lot of it is very emotional, so I just kept it ticking along while I worked through the grief of losing my team and the shop.
Suzy: Well, you seem to have decided pretty firmly now that you’re closing Dollydagger; is this a permanent thing?
Yes, I finally got there! As you know it’s hard to let go but the last 12 months have been so difficult and I'm not providing my customers with a good service anymore.
It’s only fairly recently that my ability to cope has more or less gone and I don’t really want a bad customer experience to be our legacy after all those years of good stuff!
I don’t plan for this to be a permanent closure but until I’ve had a rest I won’t know when we will be back. That said, I have a sketch book brimming with new designs and I have to do something with them…
If and when we do come back we will continue with well made, beautifully hand-finished garments. I’m glad I have stuck with that. To be honest, I think I really would have lost interest if I’d had to go down another road. There’s no point as far as I’m concerned. More importantly it will be fresh and new but still have that twist!
Suzy: Does this mean you want it to shift away from being primarily a vintage-inspired site again?
Emma: I would like to, but that might not happen right away. When we first started we used to stock trainers and all kinds of different brands that you wouldn’t expect to see on the site now, but they were all a great fit with the kind of person that shops with us and I’d like to start doing that again, as well as including things like homeware and art.
Suzy: What other plans do you want to share at this stage?
Emma: I’ll be using the break to work on brand new things as well as evaluate and re-work Dollydagger. So during this time I will, for example be conducting a size survey and re-working our sizing block. I think it’s good to do this periodically; customers change and their needs change, plus this is a great opportunity for us to improve; I don’t plan to waste it!
My ideal scenario for Dollydagger – and it’s annoying in that the things that we did really well, and we stopped being able to afford to do, was really nice packaging and really quick customer service. So as much as anything I want to return to that.
So, there are no timescales for a Dollydagger re-launch at this stage; just watch this space…….
In terms of the brand new I have recently started a creative sales agency. Anyone who is a Hendrix fan will know that 'Dollydagger' and 'In From The Storm' are both Jimi Hendrix song titles. Interestingly I recently discovered that the single 'Dollydagger' was released on my actual birthday; how weird is that?!
The agency will represent independent brands. I am currently looking for creative talent, so that's the first thing I plan to do on 1st December; actually the 2nd December because I might have a day off!
Suzy: For me, it’s always been about the spirit of Dollydagger: fiercely independent, innovative, creative… The people that like it have always loved it.
Emma: I think that’s the thing: it’s a site for people who get it. And I want more people that get it, to hear about it. So, just to say that we’ll be having a sleep, but we’ll be back soon!
Suzy Prince is a copywriter and editor from Manchester. She's also a great friend; check out her website!
Thame Art Crawl 2017 September 21 2017
New In - Amazing Pineapple Lamps! February 18 2017
We're very excited at Dollydagger HQ because we've been waiting to get these amazing pineapple lamps for absolutely ages! Everyone loves a bit of tropical style and these Pina Colada pineapple lamps from Goodnight Light are the perfect addition to any home. Available in a range of pastel shades, neon brights (I think the flamingo pink pineapple, might be my favourite!) or a very stylish white and gold, there is a pineapple for everyone!
Teamed with palm print wallpaper, there is no better way to create sunshine on an otherwise grey day. I haven't decided which one I'm having yet, because I want them all. We we will be adding more tropical themed goodies to the site in the coming months, so watch this space! Which one is your favourite?
If pineapple's are not really your thing (how is that even possible?!) they also have a range of baby bunny lamps, which are incredibly cute. Designed with (big!) kids in mind, they'll appeal if you collect vinyl toys, like Sonny Angels or similar.
We love these too!
Anyway, that's it for now!
New Art Prints and Cards from Telegramme February 07 2017
Dollydagger Summer Sale - Red Rose Bustle Dress Now £29 August 26 2016
Our Summer sale continues and we have just 2 of the stunning Red Rose Bustle Dress left. 1950's in style and with a detachable bow bustle which ties around the waist this dress is perfect for any occasion. Now just £29 (from £129) we won't run these again so grab one while you can!
Dollydagger Summer Sale - Pretty Pastels and Candy Colours August 23 2016
Our summer sale is in full swing and we've added more lovely things including the last pair of Vivien Westwood for Melissa Lady Dragon Bow Shoes in mint and pink. There are also some further Classic Hardware reductions with the Fiona Hewitt range. Fiona is the talented illustrator behind the brand Wu and Wu and the pieces in this collection are the cutest!
There are still a handful of the Green Pear Scarlet Dress left. This stunning fabric is a limited edition and won't be repeated so get yours while you can! We've also reduced the Mary Fellows range of aprons and tea towels; these make great gifts so maybe time for a spot of early festive shopping?! (is it too early to mention that?!)
That's all for today! Happy shopping!!
Dollydagger Summer Sale - Pink Rose Bustle Dress August 21 2016
Our Summer sale continues and we have just 4 of the Pink Rose Bustle Dress left. 1950's in style and with a detachable bow bustle which ties around the waist this dress is perfect for any occasion. Now just £29 (from £129) we won't run these again so grab one while you can!
We love all things nautical at Dollydagger and you love our 1950's style Lulu Dress, so what's better than a combination of those two thing? Nothing, that's what!
Our Limited Edition Nautical Lulu Dress is available now and has just been reduced in our end of season sale. It's a one off colour way and won't be repeated so grab one while you can!
Not sure what to style it with? Then check our our nautical jewellery and accessories!
Dollydagger Summer Sale Final Reductions August 16 2016
Well it's scorching hot this week and that's just our summer sale!
New items have been added and we've reduced our best selling 1950's style English Rose Scarlet Dress to £59 for the rest of the summer season, so if you have had your eye on it now is a good time!
Dollydagger Summer Sale - Top Nautical Picks! August 14 2016
It's hot out there! and what better time to grab a last minute summer bargain! We've added accessories to our summer sale, including some favourite pieces from Tarina Tarantino, Classic Hardware and Zatchels. We've also reduced our Limited Edition Nautical Lulu Dress. Here is the best of our nautical jewellery and accessories:
We also have added some old favourites to our sample sale. Remember this awesome Nautical Sailor Dress from Tofu? It was a bestseller and we have one left!
The amazing Gold Lobster Necklace from Swank has also been added to the sale, although be quick, we have just one left!
There will be more to come!
Dollydagger Summer Sale - Final Reductions August 12 2016
Summer is now in full swing and we've added more items to our end of season sale.
For an added treat you can now also get up to 20% off using the discount codes above!
The discount is only valid until Midnight on Friday though so you'll need to get your skates on!
Terms and Conditions
Discount is valid until Midnight on Friday 12th August
Discount cannot be applied retrospectively.
Discount cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.
Dollydagger Summer Sale 2016 July 17 2016
It's that time again; the weather has perked up and it's time to grab an end of season bargain. There are a number of one-off sample pieces as well as reductions on the Dollydagger Boutique collection.
The Bella dress from Stop Staring was very popular and is now a bargain at £69 and we have a couple of one-off pieces, the Dollydagger Doris Dress and Dollydagger Florence Dress, both made for shoots and completely unique.
Our 1950's English Rose Scarlet Dress isn't going anywhere but we've reduced it to £89 for a limited time only (we'll be bringing back the plain colours for Autumn!)
And finally our Polka Dot Brighton Belle Dresses are all reduced. Made from super soft cotton poplin, these dresses are great for dancing in or having a picnic on the beach!
It's not really the weather for it but perhaps instead our new Nautical Lulu Dress will brighten up your day! It's the same cut as our original 1950's style Lulu Dress but we've given it a summery hue!
This is a limited edition number so be quick!
You may have heard it was our 10th birthday last month and we gave away lucky dip bags with every order. They were so popular we have decided to continue indefinitely with orders over £50 which basically means until we run out!
And if that's not enough news for you (and not like us; we've been a bit quiet lately!) we are also having a sample sale which will start at 9 am on Friday morning. There will be one-off pieces, items from previous seasons and even a few boy's t-shirts!
More news coming soon!
Terms and Conditions
Lucky Dip bags subject to availability
Lucky Dip bags cannot be exchanged for cash and must be returned if the order is partially or full refunded, taking the order value below the £50 qualification threshold.
Boo! It's Halloween! Take 20% Off Until Midnight on Sunday October 25 2015
It's that time of year again! Rather than give you a fright, we thought we'd give you a treat!
Use code SPOOKY for 20% off everything until Midnight on Sunday 31st October 2015.
Terms and Conditions
Discount is valid until Midnight on Sunday 31st October 2015.
Discount cannot be applied retrospectively.
Discount cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer.
Dolly's Playlist - July 2015 July 13 2015
Those of you who remember reading Dolly's Diary a few years ago will know we used to write gig reviews, make new music recommendations and have some really great giveaways too! We stopped doing that for a while, mostly due to boring things like moving and opening a shop (and closing a shop!) but we've decided to do it again. We might even start running our club nights again!
Our July playlist has 10 of the tracks we've been listening to most this month, some new, some not so new!
Wolf Alice - Moaning Lisa Smile
Tess Parks and Anton Newcombe - Cocaine Cat
DIIV - Doused
Shilpa Ray and Her Happy Hookers - Heaven in Stereo
MS MR - Hurricane
The Amazing - Picture You
Ezra Furman - Restless Year
Viet Cong - Silhouettes
Gengahr - She's a Witch
Young Fathers - Get Up
If you don't use spotify you can also see what we listen to on last.fm.
We Are Moving! Scheduled Shop Closure May 31 2015
We are finally moving and will be taking a few days break to get things sorted.
Orders placed between 1st and 9th June will be shipped on 10th June when we return.
There is still time to order though; we will pack and ship everything that comes in between now and midday on Monday 1st before we close.
Wish us luck!!!!
Dollydagger Easter Eggstravaganza March 29 2015
Terms and Conditions
Competition closes at midnight on 30th April 2015
Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash.
Winner will be selected at random and notified through Facebook or Pinterest
Prizes that are not claimed by the 1st June 2015 will be donated to charity.
It's March madness time!
For 20% off orders over £100 use code CAKE20
For 15% off orders over £80 use code CAKE15
For 10% off orders over £50 use code CAKE10
Terms and Conditions
Discount is valid until Midnight on Sunday 22nd March 2015.
*EXTENDED UNTIL TUESDAY 31ST MARCH*
Discount cannot be applied retrospectively
Discount cannot be used in conjunction with any other offer
Should items be returned, taking the value of the goods below the required discount or promotion threshold, the value of your refund will be adjusted accordingly.
New In - Sparkly Jewels and Sweet Treats! March 13 2015
We love this time of year; daffodils coming into bloom, sunny (but still a bit chilly!) days and planning our holidays!
Wedding season is just around the corner and we've hand selected some more stunning pieces of vintage crystal rhinestone jewellery from iconic designers such as Weiss and Kramer, among others.
To get you a little bit in the mood for spring (even if you're not quite ready to ditch that coat) we have some delicious ice-cream and spring flower themed earrings and badge sets.
That's all for now! To see everything that's new click here.
Now go and enjoy your weekend!
March Give-Away - Win our Greta Dress! March 09 2015
I think Spring is taking a day off!
Beat the Monday blues and win one of our Greta dresses in our March give-away.
Simply 'Like' this post on Facebook and comment with where you would like to wear it, if you win (and be as adventurous as you like!)
The winner will be picked at random at the beginning of April.
Terms and Conditions
Competition closes at midnight on 31st March 2015.
Prizes cannot be exchanged for cash.
Winner will be selected at random and notified through Facebook.
Prizes that are not claimed by the 1st May 2015.
Spring is in the air and we have a spring in our step!
Would you like 15% Off?! Well then it's yours!
Use code TAKE15 for 15% off everything, including sale items (orders over £50).
Terms and Conditions
Valid until Midnight on Sunday 8th March
Discounts cannot be applied retrospectively
Should goods be returned, taking the order value below the qualification threshold, any refunds will be adjusted accordingly.
Winter Sale Continues - Up to 30% Off Mary Fellows February 06 2015
We hate February! It's flippin' freezing! But the good news is that our winter sale is full of amazing bargains as we clear the decks for new and lovely things!
We have up to 30% off all things Mary Fellows including her pretty aprons and tea towels and we don't have many left so grab them while you can!
Click here to see everything in the Dollydagger sale.
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