It’s no surprise, I’m obsessed with all things J. Crew. From their borrowed-from-the-boys basics and playful jewelry to their absolutely genius brand image and creative work (I did work in fashion e-commerce after all) and, of course, their queen of cool, Jenna Lyons.
And clearly I’m not alone. Jenna has been everywhere lately! Including on Time‘s Most Influential People List (love seeing such a positive force in the fashion world going mainstream!) Fresh from what appears to be a press binge, you can find out pretty much everything from what Jenna eats for breakfast to what’s on her DVR, but my recommended must-read is the Fast Company cover story about the J. Crew president.
Before I go on gushing about Jenna Lyons—like how she transforms the safe preppy mainstay into a fashion force that caught the eye of everyone from the FLOTUS and Anna Wintour to blogger cool kids and NYFW–here are a few pics from the recent Fast Company article that show her office. I love seeing where (and how) really creative people work, and Jenna’s work space is as layered and lovely as I imagined. Want some more? There’s a 360 tour that you can practically get lost in right here.
So without further adeu (and yes, I know I sound like a rambling groupie), here’s my ode to Ms. Jenna Lyons.
She’s just cool.
She has killer adrogynous-chic style (obviously.) and has formed an army of sock-free style soldiers. Fast Company sums it up perfectly: “It’s as if the company’s uniform, ambiently dictated by Lyons, is enforced only from the knees down. Bare ankles, for men and women alike, whether with suede bucks, ballet flats, heeled ankle boots, high-top Converse, vintage Nikes, or glittery pumps, fill the company’s East Village headquarters.
She throws awesome al-fresco parties (can I come?) and gets dressed quickly and imaginatively in a matter of minutes. “I do my makeup in about five minutes, and I get dressed in about three minutes. I definitely don’t have a work uniform. The idea of a uniform is like a slow and painful death to me,” she told Harper’s Bazaar.
She even talks cool. Simple. Digestible. Actionable. “This—not so pretty.” about a chunky necklace. “Managing creative people—not so easy.” about her starving-artist employees. Plus, she drops phrases like “hangry-mangry” in the middle of serious interviews.
She’s like us.
After far too many guilty glances at my iPhone during dinner and “really?” looks from my boyfriend, it makes me feel a little bit better to know that Jenna checks her feeds at less-than-appropriate times too. “I check my Instagram far too much, like in the middle of meetings, which I need to stop doing. It’s so sad.”
She works hard.
It feels like Jenna fever has been gaining momentum from the last three years, so I was so suprised to learn that she’s been with the company for over 20 years. In fact, she’s one of the company’s longest-tenured employees, having working there since she was 21 years old.
Her vision is infections. No longer stiff and stuffy, the brand is all about clean-cut looks with a dash of sparkle, an androgynous spin, and a refreshing take on blueblood prep–all without taking itself too seriously. (Sound familiar? It’s pretty much how she dresses herself.) Form their blog to their catalogue to their newly evolving Factory stores, Jenna seems to be all about a cohesive customer experience.
She comes from a positive place.
Lauded as a supportive and encouraging manager, Jenna seems to sidestep the mean-girl antics of the fashion industry.
Leggy, fashion-forward and the face of the brand, I kind of assumed Jenna had a background in modeling to some degree. Wrong! It turns out she actually had a very tough childhood and self-confidence issues due to an appearance-altering disease. “I searched for ways to make things more beautiful and surrounded myself with beautiful things because I didn’t feel that in myself,”
She’s true to herself.
It’s clear that Jenna takes risks — in the business world, the fashion world, and her personal life —and I love that. Like when she sent shock waves through Fox news because she showed a photo of her and her son playing around on a weekend morning and painting his toenails. Just imagine what Fox said (and loads of other media posts for that matter) when Jenna left her nine-year marriage and then came out with a girlfriend.