Jeff Lahens, Founder of Dress Code Boston
Jeff Lahens’ BIO
Jeff Lahens, BostInno’s 50 on Fire 2013 Retail & Dinning, STUFF Magazine Boston’s Sexiest 2012, Boston Magazine Best of Boston 2011 Designer-Men’s, Fashion Boston Magazine Top 100 Bostonians Who Rock the City in 2010, and Boston Globe 25 Most Stylish Bostonians of 2008, an award-winning fashion entrepreneur with 10 years of experience in retail marketing. Active in the community, Jeff Lahens has become the voice for men’s fashion in Boston with regular features and contributions to local television, online and print media.
Jeff Lahens is the founder of DressCode Boston, an integrated consumer engagement firm that increases retailers’ bottom line. He oversees the creative team, public relations, marketing initiatives, B2B client acquisition, and the strategic directions of the agency. Jeff Lahens has a diverse background in brand marketing and a strong understanding of fashion consumer behaviors, which he leverages in connecting menswear brands to their audiences in today’s social media and digitally driven world.
Jeff Lahens is a creative professional with combined experiences in technology and fashion retail, a driver with a track record of delivering strong revenue through event productions, digital marketing and editorial features for major retailers.
Jeff Lahens has a strong strategic positioning in the marketplace and is willing to employ creative tactics to get your store registers to ring.
In the Spotlight Interview
1. Please tell us about the inception of DressCode Boston.
Jeff: I was the co-founder and former Creative Director at ECC Life & Style, a Boston-based fashion design and marketing firm. I rebranded and extended my expertise in retail marketing and menswear design in 2010 to launch DressCode Boston. The vision was to create a platform where retailers could find success and to grow the local fashion community. Today, DressCode Boston is Boston’s leading customer engagement platform connecting retailers to their audience in today’s social media and digitally driven world.
2. There is no typical day in the life of an entrepreneur. Please share with us a sample of your day, start to finish.
Jeff: It’s really complicated and based on the project du jour. My last fashion shoot put me inside a cold warehouse in December from 5AM to 7PM. We only break for lunch for 30 minutes. Not to mention the days and hours of preparation. Check out the result in the January feature at Improper.com .
3. What are your ‘can’t live without’ software applications?
Jeff: I’m a minimalist. I’m still a Blackberry user, but I also carry an iPad. I know…a contradiction to being a minimalist. Last year, I discovered Evernote. It’s my ultimate project management app to record and to sync notes, photos, videos, and files on my blackberry, my iPad, and my laptop. It includes LinkedIn integration, and other business management features. I use Evernote for my daily to-do list, to record a reminder at a coffee meeting, or for taking notes at a conference.
4. What are your tricks for time management?
Jeff: I wish I knew the magic trick to hold time still. Between my family and my work schedule, I barely have time to sleep. Oh, I’m sorry you didn’t ask anything about sleep management.
To manage my time, I try to write everything down. I schedule one day strictly for coffee and lunch meetings, and another day exclusively for emails and calls. However, everyday is dedicated to social media engagement, photo shoot production, running in and out of local stores, video production, event planning and management, industry research, client management, public speaking, kids school drop-offs and pick-ups, kids’ activities, honey-do list, family time, etc.
5. What was the best advice you received when you started your career?
Jeff: I entered the world of entrepreneurship as a financial consultant. I worked from home as a rookie independent agent for a prominent marketing company in financial services. I thought working from home meant to roll out of bed at noon, to work limited hours, and to work in my home office in workout clothes whenever I didn’t have a client meeting. However, I only started to see success after my business mentor taught me the following Chinese proverb read in the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell: “No one who can rise before dawn 360 days a year fails to make his family rich.” He taught me that winning is a mindset and to dress for success every day.
6. Given the current economic climate, what has been your strategy for building awareness of DressCode Boston (what do you do for short term and long term growth)?
Jeff: Strategic partnerships have always been my strategy in any economic climate.
The business model remains simple. We grow when we create success for others. We are a strong advocate for consumers to shop local. Our efforts have created an uprising interest and sustainable opportunities for men’s fashion in Boston. We work with Boston’s best style bloggers, prominent fashion professionals, top socialites, beloved celebrities, notable retailers, and the editorial community to promote men’s fashion in the local market. We established corporate partnership programs with targeted local businesses. We created cross-channel marketing opportunities in partnerships with established luxury companies in order to increase brand exposure.
7. What is your proudest achievement as an accomplished business leader?
Jeff: At the end of 2013, I was awarded BostInno’s 50 on Fire Retail & Dining. It is always an honor to receive an industry award.
8. How do you achieve balance in your life?
Jeff: I work in a high-pressured, fast-paced and volatile field of fashion retail and the creative industry. However, I always make time for my first responsibility which is my family. And sometime I disconnect with the rest of the world to recharge.
9. What are your top 3 book recommendations?
1- The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell
2- Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion by Alan Flusser
3- Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy by Martin Lindstrom
10. What are your most rewarding charitable involvements?
Jeff: My charitable efforts have always been to support youth development and education. I’m currently assisting The Robert R. Taylor Network. RRTN honors the first African-American graduate of M.I.T. by highlighting the role of blacks and members of other underserved communities in architecture, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (ASTEM). The nonprofit organization works to increase participation by members of minority groups in the ASTEM fields and to increase the number of technology entrepreneurs coming from these communities.
11. Who has influenced your career the most?
Jeff: I have had so many supporters and mentors along the years to whom I am grateful. It’s hard to say who has influenced my career the most. My wife has always been my biggest supporter.
Shawn Harris, founder and CEO of NYOPOLY, has been a wonderful supporter of my work. We teamed up in 2004 to create ECC Life & Style. Since then, I become one of the most celebrated fashion professionals in Boston. However, local media and people started to notice my work when I started dressing former Boston Celtics Head Coach Doc Rivers and former New England Patriots Jarvis Green.
12. What is your advice for someone interested in starting a business?
Jeff: Your success in business will be short-lived if you are only in it for the money.