Jenna Lyons was named president of J.Crew yesterday. The news arrives after several consecutive raises and bonuses for the creative director. Want to get where Jenna is someday? Here are five key components of her success.
1. A Great Mentor What can we say? Mickey Drexler is a retailing genius. He recognized Jenna's talent in 2003 and helped her to design not only for her customer, but herself. The reason J.Crew works so well is because the designers actually wear and like the clothes that they design. Not so with plenty of other high street brands.
2. Consistency. Jenna's been working at J.Crew since the early nineties, and while we're sure she's had plenty of offers to work for other designers and retailers, she's stuck around, slowly moving up the ranks. Now, I'm not advocating sticking with a dead-end job, but it does feel like people tend to hop scotch from company-to-company without really considering the consequences these days. In the past, my mentors have said to me, "Don't leave a job until you've stopped learning." Just think how different high street fashion would be if Jenna had left J.Crew four or five years out of school.
3. Modesty. Jenna may be a tough boss (we've heard as much), but she's also incredibly modest and thankful for the talent around her. I've seen her at functions introducing herself to prestigious, higher-end designers, and she's always so excited and honored to meet them, even if she is at their caliber (and probably much better-paid). She's also quick to credit her team, from the designers to the stylists, for the great collections J.Crew puts out each season.
4. Some Semblance of Work/Life Balance. Have you seen Jenna's husband? He's like, ridiculously good looking. And her kid is pretty perfect. But that's not the point--Mr. Jenna could be an ogre, and the kid a terror. It would still be impressive that Jenna decided to not give up on having a family and a life outside of J.Crew. So many people--women and men--are miserable in their personal lives. And that most certainly affects their performance at work.
5. A Great Eye. I mean, really. That's what it really comes down to. She knows what she likes, she knows what she doesn't like, and she's great at interpreting high fashion and high style (two separate things, mind you) for a mass audience. Think about the collaborations J.Crew is doing--Fenton/Fallon, Essie, Miriam Haskell. These are calculated by someone who knows what she likes better than 99.9% of the population. And she knows what they're going to like, too.