Sam Dumas Talks Dating and The Importance of Reflecting Community On Chappy


With Dumas taking on the responsibility of such imposing heights as Head of Brand, it is more than safe to presume exciting times are ahead for Chappy and its community.

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Words, Igee Okafor

Photography, Marcus Richardson


Early last year in the Spring of 2018, I was introduced to Sam Dumas for the first time at a LGBTQ Leadership Dinner in Washington, D.C hosted inside the expensive interiors of the Jefferson hotel. I first noticed Dumas across the room during a casual observation of the kind of personalities that occupied the event.

Dumas - whose luminous smile radiated so effortlessly in conjunction with his well ironed single breasted suit, and perfectly styled hair paraded the room with such pretty magnetism. For such an intimate affair where guests were only familiar with maybe four other attendees out of the eighteen or so that attended, Dumas’s liveliness played a notable role in the buoyant air that occupied the space - turns out, he was the man to meet.

As I quickly learned, Dumas who formerly held a position leading experiences at Conde Nast (Vanity Fair, W Magazine), was now heading the brand presence at Chappy - a fairly new gay dating app he describes as “Inclusive, respectful, and playful”.

Since its creation, originating in London in 2016, Chappy is committed to evolving and improving its user experience an all embracing, and deferential environment. Irrefutably rethinking what we’ve come to know as online dating in today’s day and age, Chappy’s philosophy on meaningful connections shapes up to be a refreshing development in the right direction. For the app, the focus is simply encouraging healthy relationships in a judgement-free zone.

With Dumas taking on the responsibility of such imposing heights as Head of Brand, it is more than safe to presume exciting times are ahead for Chappy and its community.

Below, more about why Dumas decided to take on his new role, the importance of creating meaningful interactions, and social activism.


Cremieux, Jacket and Trouser     H&M,    Carl. F Bucherer,
Cremieux, Jacket and Trouser     H&M,    Carl. F Bucherer,

Wearing:

Cremieux, Ocean Lightest Tropical Wool Suit | H&M, Merino Wool Sweater

Carl F. Bucherer, Manero Flyback | ACNE Studios, White Sneakers


Let’s start with your earlier days at Conde Nast. It’s not everyday one receives the opportunity to work on the same level as some of the best people in publishing. What was your experience like? Specifically with Vanity Fair & W Magazine.

On a tactical level, Conde Nast was my training ground in a lot of ways. I was interacting with best in class editorial teams, marketing teams, events, digital, you name it. Being surrounded by that level of excellence only raised my bar professionally, both in terms of how I worked and how I measured success. On a more personal level, it also taught me how to speak up, defend my thoughts, and have confidence in my convictions. Working at a brand like Vanity Fair, you are always aware of the pressure of living up to the brand itself. As someone in their mid-twenties at the time, I think that it was invaluable.

How did your role curating experiences with those brands prepare you for your position with Chappy?

Curated experiences is becoming more and more vital nowadays, as brands realize how important it is to make emotional connections with their communities. It’s a way to show users what you stand for. Understanding how to actually start and end that process from my previous career experiences has been hugely beneficial. It’s a language all on its own and I’m grateful to speak it.

When I started at Chappy, I knew right away that I wanted our community to be able to tangibly experience our brand. It’s important for all brands, but especially ours, which had a goal of fostering a community of inclusivity and diversity. We’ve been able to create physical manifestations of our brand that are reflective of our values and that’s invaluable. People get the chance to see what you stand for in real time and over the course of the past year, we’ve been able to bring together an incredibly diverse, bad ass group of gay men.


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Wearing:

H&M, Slim Fit Denim Shirt | Carl F. Bucherer, Manero Flyback


As Head of Brand, what does your job entail?

We function as a true start up. It’s a roll your sleeves up kind of environment, which means every day is different. My primary role as Head of Brand is to ensure that our community is not only finding value in the brand, but understanding it and what we stand for. Spreading our mission and fostering a stronger sense of community for our users, is and always will be my primary goal.


Deciding to walk away from a position at one of the top publishing houses in the world is such a bold gesture. Why Chappy?

The simple answer is because I knew that there was an opportunity to make a difference. At 24 years old, I was pretty young when I met my now husband. I think I was somewhat naive to how lucky I was to have sidestepped some of the hazards of gay dating. When the Chappy opportunity presented itself, the thought of creating a space that values quality connection, away from prejudice and judgement, was something that called to me. My relationship has had such an incredibly positive impact and influence on my life and I wanted to help others find positivity in their relationships, too.

Prior to married life, did you have any experience with other dating apps from a user perspective? If so, what did you feel was missing?

I did, yes, and that has been really helpful in shaping how we evolve as a brand, but also how we stay true to our principles. It’s less about what was missing from the perspective of an interface, but more so what was missing in terms of core values. Since its inception, Chappy has stood out by focusing on being a values-driven brand. We’ve always cared about creating an online community where guys feel a sense of belonging and respect.


How does one present themselves on a dating app like Chappy? What are the important checklists to look out for? Is it the images? Is it the ‘about me’ bio? How do you keep things light but interesting?

As themselves! We’ve made it easier for guys to match with other guys with similar intentions, but the rest is up to you. Showcase the best parts of yourself in the most real way. A few pictures representing your personality go a long way.


Chappy has done a fantastic job with collaborations especially events. From gay pride to dinners with the most influential partners - What kind of visibility and messaging does this mean for Chappy?


Experiences are the best way to involve the community in your brand and what you stand for. We pride ourselves on reflecting the community we are a part of with our experiences. We’ve had panel discussions with notable figures talking about their coming out stories, politically ruled round table discussions in DC about the future of our rights as gay men, dance parties, tastemaker dinners benefiting our favorite charitable causes and organizations. The goal is to stand for the true spirit of our community and the members within it.

Wearing:

H&M, Slim Fit Linen-Blend Shirt | Cremieux, Linen Pants

Eyevan Eyewear, Sprout Frame | Carl F. Bucherer, Manero Peripheral 43MM


Looking at all of what Chappy has been able to represent thus far, there seems to be a lot of focus on self love and celebration of difference in the gay community which most will agree to be so compulsory for several reasons. From your perspective, why is there still a need to loudly enforce such qualities?

It's important because there are currently so many other voices in the room that are working against the idea of self love. We've made so much progress as a community, but there is still a lot of work to be done. That's why our partnership with GLAAD (Chats for Charity) is so important to us. GLAAD is working to accelerate the acceptance of LGBTQ people everywhere and we hope that initiatives like ours will help to create continued progress.

I firmly believe that our most exciting time is yet to come. We’re always listening to the community and what they want. The next 6 months for Chappy will be incredibly inspiring, I can’t wait for you to see what we’ve come up with!