Jenna Lyons’ Secrets: Keeping It Together and Betting on Quality

By  April 17, 2013

There is no denying that Jenna Lyons has created an impressive following since taking the helm at J.Crew as president and creative director. Now, she’s letting fangirls like us in on the secrets of her success in the latest issue of Fast Company magazine. Sitting on the cover with her leg crossed at the knee, dressed in all white, the article is not surprisingly titled,”How J.Crew Stays White Hot.

So how does Lyons keep it all together at J.Crew? Step #1 – Realize creatives are a sensitive bunch. (We can attest to that.) “Managing creative people—not so easy,” Lyons said. “When someone creates something and puts it in front of you, that thing that came from inside of them, and if you make them feel bad, it’s going to be hard to fix, because you’ve actually crushed them.”

You’d have to be crazy to shoot this proverbial messager, though. Business has tripled to $2.2 billion since 2003, Lyons has her own cult following, and it’s all thanks to her talent and aesthetic. Which leads us to Step #2: Bet on quality. “You have to get people to understand why having that Serge Mouille light fixture is better, because it’s beautiful and people will know something’s different. Maybe when you look at that $200 cashmere sweater, you’ll feel like, ‘Oh, yeah, look at the store, it’s so beautiful. This $200 sweater is a steal.’”

And finally, Step #3: Give implicit permission to take risks. While Lyons has been known to wear some more outlandish styles, like sequined pants with a striped shirt or the infamous featured maxi skirt with a sweater, she pulls it off and asks the same of her team….which undoubtedly keeps them motivated and inspired.

Lyons definitely keeps us motivated. To shop. You can read the rest of her tidbits in the May issue of Fast Company on sale now. Feel free to snip and clip the pages of the glossy for your inspiration or motivation board. We know we will be.