Designer Jessica Constance has already lived the life of a true fashionista, studying at the prestigious Istituto Europeo di Design in Milan before jet-setting around the design capitals of London, Paris, and New York as a fashion stylist for companies like Dior, Gucci, and Stella McCartney. But even after all of her travels, she still felt something was missing…a place for personalised accessories that were unique, bold, and absolutely timeless. That’s why in 2009 Jess launched Dallas and Carlos—your destination for gorgeous statement pieces. Dallas and Carlos has small factories located in Miami and Sydney and sources only the highest quality materials from Italy, France, South America, and the US. It’s no wonder that elite stores like Colette, Nordstrom, Urban, Harvey Nichols and Corso Como 10 have caught on and decided to support this stylish range of accessories! Some of our favorite pieces here at MUSQ are the gorgeous Santi Bracelet and the hand-woven friendship bracelets—an ideal gift for your forever friends! We decided to catch up with Jess to find out more about how she is revolutionising the way we think about accessories.
Q. How & why did Dallas and Carlos come about?
A. After graduating Fashion design in Milan followed by 5 years of working as a fashion stylist on the New York / Paris / Milan / London circuit, I took a 3 month break with my boyfriend at the time to Brazil for some seriously needed r&r. While I was there, I caught up with a great friend who I went to school with in Australia, by chance (she was having a stop off for Carnaval on the way to moving to NY) and we both fell in love with the colors and the energy of Rio de Janeiro. We decided to extend our trips and create the lifestyle we wanted with our own business. There were so many facets of the country that we were interested in- we originally wanted to design bikinis and underwear- but we discovered an amazing eco friendly fish skin, and the business evolved initially into leather cuffs and bags. The name came from the apartment blocks that we lived in there in Ipanema. We loved our time there and the amazing careers that it set up for us, however, production was extremely frustrating and it wasn’t long before we ventured back to the US to find reliable and efficient factories- which we still use to this day- 8 years on.
Q. Who is Dallas and Carlos designed for?
A. Over the lifetime of the brand, our design has somewhat simplified from a brighter and bolder style (in our Rio days) to a more sophisticated and subtle/simple style for more versatility(NYC). It is designed for girls like us, who wear jeans and black and white t-shirts everyday and just want a staple piece of jewelry that can be worn everyday but also has some personality to lift our simplistic fashion style.
Q. How do you find inspiration when designing?
A. Most of our inspiration is drawn through our extensive travels around the world. We love to source interesting materials to use in our jewelry- such as cords for boating made into bracelets. We love to wander vintage markets in different cultures for inspiration. We’re currently working on an intimates range which will be available early next year- and this was inspired by a trip to the beautiful fabric stores in the hills on the outskirts of Paris and a road trip through Florence last year visiting the most amazing lace manufacturers. Often for us, it’s finding the amazing raw materials first and then working out how they could be transformed into beautiful designs, rather than the other way around.
Q. You ship all over the world. What advice would you give to gals and guys wanting to start their own business?
A. You can do anything you put your time and heart into if its something that you love! But saying that- starting your own business isn’t for everyone. It’s important to know how to delegate tasks and not try to control every single part of the business and its also important to be able to switch off, even in stressful times. It’s an amazing lifestyle which offers great flexibility, but also lots of hard work!
Q. Running your own business involves long days. What do you do to unwind?
A. I actually don’t really get that stressed as its not in my nature so it doesn’t take much to unwind! I love the beach- sunshine, swimming, sports etc but I’ve recently relocated back to Melbourne having spent the past couple of years based in Bondi so I miss the ocean a little. On the upside, I’ve been loving spending more time with my family and friends back here. Cooking. Movies. Weekend trips down the coast.
Q. Your pieces have been seen on everyone from Rita Ora to Beyonce. What has this exposure done for the brand?
A. It’s been amazing to have the support of some great celebrities wearing our brand from the very beginning and I think wholesaling to stores in the US has been a huge part of this as the stores that we supply in NY, LA, Paris are celebrity hotspots so to speak. We had an email from a stockist in the US a couple of years ago saying Randy Jackson was in the store shopping for a birthday present for Jay-Z and asking how quickly could he get his personalised order. So we’re very lucky to have not needed too much press for the label to keep our momentum. Saying that, in our very early days we had a magazine here in Australia reach out to request all the letter “K” items for a secret cover shoot who they couldn’t reveal the models were. We sent a fairly extensive collection on loan and they requested to keep the items after the shoot saying that the models had LOVED them- which we allowed, not knowing who they were still. Around 3 months later, we were about to board a flight from Melbourne back to the US when were absolutely inundated with orders on our (still fairly new) website to the point that it crashed with all the activity. We had a call from Paypal to check for suspicious activity on the account due to all the orders. After a quick online search we found that Kendall and Kylie Kardashian had done a couple of social media posts wearing our pieces- needless to say those pieces sold out pretty quickly! The girls requested more styles for themselves and their sisters after that also which was great- so the exposure is really direct and can happen really quickly and unexpectedly.
Q. Latest jewellery trend your obsessing about?
A. With the start of summer in Australia, we’re loving really simple short chains layered with a couple of other lengths and styles of chains. We’re also LOVING the Saint trend at the moment- our current collection features a lot of pieces that draw reference back to our Brazil days- Saint Pendants, Rosary style Necklaces, mini Crosses etc. and then finished off with a little letter to personalise the look, of course! Fine chains are definitely the flavour of the month in the office!
Q. What is the hardest working beauty product in your cupboard?
A. Love, love love the MUSQ Gel Cleanser morning and night- followed by the Antioxidant Toner and Replenish Serum. Really love that they’re Made in Australia by a lovely company using natural products. For make up, my hardest working product would definitely be the MUSQ Creme Foundation. It the only make up you need and dent clog your skin at all. Feels light with great coverage still. The best!
Your bag is never without: Water!
Go to MUSQ product: Creme Foundation!! Adore it!
Signature scent: Issey Miyake
Makeup philosophy: Less is more
Life philosophy: Love every moment and be happy, kind, generous and grateful!!