Why A "Meddler" Is The Secret To J.Crew's Success

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embedPhoto: Courtesy of J.Crew.
For everyone who wonders about the special alchemy that made J.Crew so prosperous, the good news is that the secret's out. But, for all the competitor brands eager to reproduce its explosive growth, here's the bad news: You can't.

J.Crew's vision comes from chairman and CEO Mickey Drexler (along with creative director Jenna Lyons, of course). A Business of Fashion profile today describes Drexler's unerring instinct for the trends women want to wear, that, when combined with his knack for hard sales data, has made the chain retail's most stunning success story.

“The fact of the matter is, he’s a meddler,” Lyons told the trade. In the article, Drexler is said to "[call] his top employees in and out of his office any time he has a bright idea or a big concern." It also points to his "micro-managing" and "constant questioning." But, there's ample evidence that Drexler's earned the right to pry, with his uncanny instinct for trends and an ability to analyze sales data that he's been honing for ages. He tells the illustrative story of his Bloomingdale's days where, at 22, he was known as "Stubs Drexler" due to his habit of counting sales tags every day to track garments' performance. That number-crunching paid off when he spotted a T-shirt with a sales spike in February and convinced his boss to place the biggest buy in Bloomingdale's history — to explosive sales, of course. "I do the same 40 years later,” Drexler said.

Read the full story at Business of Fashion, including why Drexler wishes he had a boss like himself in his early years. Bottom line? There's no substitute for vision — even if it is a little meddlesome. (Business of Fashion)