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J.Crew President and Creative Director Jenna Lyons has landed herself on the cover of this month's FastCompany magazine. The accompanying article is titled "How J.Crew Stays White Hot" and the next 2000 or so words are mostly about Lyons and the cult of coolness she's managing to cultivate at a brand that, 10 years ago, was a "bit player" in the industry.
There's not a ton of new information here—yes CEO Mickey Drexler is a charismatic business genius, yes Lyons' mix of marketing and design smarts make her an ideal leader—but the writer did get to spend what seems like a decent chunk of time with Lyons, which means lots of Jenna quotes for all the fans out there. After the jump, we round up 12 of her best.
On juice fasting:
"I'm so hungry. I haven't eaten in 10 days... I was like, errrr! errrr! with every pair of pants. The inside button would pop before I even zipped it. I was like, Oh, God! I'm a little bit mangry. Hangry mangry."
On where she is now:
"It's taken me years to get here, and I've cultivated it so carefully. But I didn't think it was possible. I just assumed I'd plateau and that there would be no place for me to go."
On her dual role of creative director and president:
"What it says is that no financial decision weighs heavier than a creative decision. They are equal."
On what she does all day:
"At this stage, I'm like a glorified crossing guard. It's like, try to keep people motivated, keep the traffic moving, keep people from getting stumped or stopped by a problem."
On managing creatives:
"Managing creative people—not so easy. A lot of emotion, a lot of stroking. Some people need tough love. Some people need a lot of love. There's no right or wrong answer. When someone creates something and puts it in front of you, that thing 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."
On being bullied as a kid for a congenital medical condition caused scarred skin, patchy hair, and lost teeth:
"It's amazing how cruel kids can be and super-judgmental and really just downright mean... I searched for ways to make things more beautiful and surrounded myself with beautiful things because I didn't feel that in myself."
On designing accessible fashion:
"I felt a huge drive to make clothes that everybody could have because I felt ostracized by that world of beauty and fashion. I never thought I would have a part in it. Never in a million years."
On how her parents' divorce made her ambitious:
"I'll never forget my mother standing in the tuna-fish aisle thinking, 'Are we going to get tuna fish this week?' Feeling like I never wanted to rely on a man, I was like, 'I gotta work my ass off.'"
On how CEO Mickey Drexler told her about her promotion to president:
"It was literally a two-second conversation. He pulled me into a room and said, 'So, just want to let you know you're the president.' I was like, uh, okay. Alrighty then. Then I put my head down on the table, took 10 deep breaths, sat back up and was like, 'Okay, do I need to do anything different?' And he was like, 'No, just keep doing what you're doing.' I'm like, 'Okay,' and we walked out of the room. That was it."
On her revamp of J.Crew's stores:
"It's a little bit like a modern house with tons of shit in it," says Lyons. "It really doesn't look so pretty."
On being famously candid:
"Maybe to a fault. I might take my teeth out."
And about the rumor she will someday start her own line, she says it's not on the table at the moment. In a way, she's already building her own collection at J.Crew.
· How Jenna Lyons Turned J.Crew Into a Cult Brand [FastCompany]
· Fashion Week Spotlight: The Cult of Jenna Lyons Is Alive and Well at J. Crew [Racked]
· J.Crew's Jenna Lyons and Gayle Spannaus: Compare and Contrast [Racked]
· Jenna Lyons Owns 289 Pairs of Shoes [Racked]