When you find good quality apparel with fun and trendy designs, and it is also a local small business, I’ll call that a win. This next company was created by two sisters and their mother as a fun creative outlet and has quickly grown into a popular apparel company within the Capital Region. From local Upstate NY designs to designs inspired by their Italian heritage, Casale Gals has the fun t-shirts, sweatshirts, crewnecks and totes you’ve been looking for. Trust me, once you’ve ordered something from them, you’re guaranteed to fill up your shopping cart again.
Tell us about your business and the story behind its creation!
Hi! We’re Natalia Dungan and Alyssa Andresen, and our mom is Kathy Casale. We’re from Troy, NY and together we make up the Casale Gals! Although we officially “launched” in 2020, Casale Gals was a long time coming.
Growing up, we were always very into fashion and were constantly seeking out the latest trends. We have used the handle “Casale Gals” for whatever social media was trending at the time – Twitter, random blogs, Tumblr, etc. These became creative outlets for us.
Rewind seventeen years ago, our mom was involved in a “parents club”. This was sort of the “team mom” for my brothers football team, as a source of raising money for them. She started a small business to sell team apparel with proceeds going to their football program. That seemed to be the starting place…. it then evolved into her creating sportswear designs for their team, school, and soon a small home based small business.
It was inspiring to see how her business functioned, but for her it wasn’t really “work” because she enjoyed it so much. This planted a seed in us; we would constantly say “let’s put that on a shirt!” any time we heard something cute or clever, always saying we would someday have our own t-shirt line. We started collecting these little sayings in our notes app (don’t all great ideas live here?)… and knew we would love to use social media to market our designs and ideas.
We are both teachers and our creativity outside of school and love for fashion took a backseat for a while. One day we decided to make our Instagram page to start collecting inspiration. We didn’t share it with anyone we knew but would post to it frequently. Although our page was there, we still weren’t fully committed to starting our own brand.
The pandemic began and we had so much extra time at home, and that’s when things escalated; we created our webpage, developed our designs, and ordered our inventory. This was the scariest part because there was no turning back. We were so nervous to share our new brand on our personal accounts. We knew that if we didn’t at least try it out, we would regret it in the future so we just had to jump in! We’re so glad we did and it has been so much fun.
What products and services do you offer? What makes them unique?
Currently, we offer graphic crewnecks, sweatshirts, t-shirts and totes. Our main clientele is women, however most of our clothing is unisex! We are both new moms and just recently launched our “lil babes” line, as well.
Some of our clothing is created for our area and we adore our local shoppers (shout out to TROY, BUFFALO, and UPSTATE in general!) In each drop, we like to reference something Italian because, well, we are Italian! Our initial launch had a lot of Italian inspiration so we want to keep that a trend throughout. Every saying that we put on a shirt has a special meaning to us and a story behind it. We want our designs and sayings to be catchy but quirky, sassy, or unique – not something you can find anywhere but that many can still relate to.
What do you love most about running your own business and being a business owner?
We’re obsessed with running our own business and working together! As we previously stated, this is a creative outlet for us, however we genuinely enjoy every aspect of running this business – from creating designs, ordering supplies, packing orders, flagging down the mailman, etc. Seeing the response has been so incredible and it motivates us to keep creating. There is nothing better than reading our customer’s notes when they order or seeing them tag us in a photo on Instagram.
What has been one of the most memorable experiences or opportunities that you’ve experienced since opening your business?
There are so many!!!! Some that come to mind – the first time someone posted their Casale Gals apparel on their Instagram story! Lorin Milazzo – it was you! The three of us have a group chat named “hunnies” and every single time we see someone wearing our brand, or see a new order come through we screenshot it and send it to the group – it never gets old! We’re so, so appreciative.
Another really special moment was when we launched and justmybouquets (owned by Genia Zurowski) DMed us to congratulate us on starting a small business and sent us her gorgeous flowers! This was so sweet and kind, and made us feel so official.
Some other memorable moments have been having Amber Lancaster and Paige DeSorbo give us shout outs on their Instagram, and doing a collab with the Buttonista, Taylor Rao. For a small business it can be difficult to branch out to a larger audience and these three amazing women have helped make that possible. We can go on and on but truly we are so grateful to each and every person who has helped us along the way and supported us!
What advice would you give to aspiring business owners?
Jump in with both feet, ask for help, and enjoy all the ups and downs! Something we learned right away is that there is this remarkable community of small and local business owners who are so lovely. They are your friends! And being One Prosecco Deep always helps. 🙂