I had a super fun privilege yesterday, so simple but exciting…

Our friend who’s more like a daughter, Jessica Hutchins, is a fabric designer at J.Crew’s corporate offices at 770 Broadway. We were meeting for lunch and beforehand she was sweet enough to offer an insider’s tour.

If you follow my blog then you know I’m a HUGE J.Crew fan, so it was a thrilling privilege to partake of this up-close look into a business and style I find enamoring.

The offices are uber-cool, with the J.Crew vibe of slightly modern with a touch of whimsy, and a sense you could and should try this at home.

The open-air concept, as Jessica explained, is all by design to encourage collaboration and dialogue. Many pretty people work there, no surprise, and with the generous employee discount who wouldn’t buy and wear those clothes?!  (I was donning my own J.Crew ensemble in honor of the moment.)

The rise of J.Crew as a force in fashion is well-documented, and credited to both CEO Mickey Drexler and Jenna Lyons, President & Exec Creative Director. Jess told me they just had a surprise 10-yr party for Mickey that morning, evidently not unusual for the collegial environment that finds many reasons to give to one another. I was excited to snag a quick view of Jenna as she walked by.

I was also excited to learn from Jess that I represent their target customer — the woman who likes to mix mid-price with high fashion and is middle age with discretionary income (oh no, am I really middle-age?!) This article is a great one on how the Drexler/Lyons duo works together on this iconic brand.

I hear Mickey loves to get emails from customers and often reads excerpts over the famous loud speaker system in the offices.  I’m working up an email to him even now, with accolades and a few specific input points (i.e. not happy with their shoes.)

In summary, why am an admirer and fan of J.Crew?

  • It’s kitschy
  • Value-priced but not cheap
  • They run great sales, in-store honors online and vice versa
  • Their sales associates know clothes and act as stylists if you want that type of input
  • I can mix it with my designer picks
  • The bright colors are always stunning and not look-away-too-bright-to-wear
  • Jewelry that looks vintage with a modern twist, affordable
  • The catalogues are my preferred style guide each season (easier to read than a bulky Vogue magazine)
  • Oh and let’s not forget the Italian cashmere sweaters, I invested in three this past season (an investment means timeless) and am hooked, not to mention they wash beautifully on a gentle cycle with the lovely scented cashmere wash soap they also sell.
  • Seeing their offices proves their great products begin with a company of talented professionals who hone their individual skills as art, and are free to express, collaborate, and yet aren’t forced to sell their souls for the company (Jess told me about the work-life balance they encourage.)

Here are a few photos I snapped on my tour. I’m off to D.C. where Ron and I will speak for the Rethink Singleness conference starting tonight @gracecov.  Suitcase full of mostly J.Crew.

Happy weekend everyone!

Welcome to the office, c’mon in!

Our dear Jessica, F.I.T. graduate (Fashion Institute of Technology) and overall extraordinary woman. Thank you Jess!

Funky retro modern lobby

Love the shiny brass letters, and the way their coffee table books were stacked by bright colors.

The color swatch room

Equally colorful shoe room

Another cool lobby, loving the turquoise art arrangement, Turkish rug on top of another rug, and the black Saarinen coffee table.

Inviting pink couch and photos in a hallway

Hallway lights pretty much say it all.

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