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J.Crew job seekers, know that Jenna Lyons won't take you seriously unless you print out your cover letter. Probably on cream heavy-weight paper, none of this email crap. That's what J.Crew's executive creative director tells Glamour EIC Cindi Leive in a lengthy interview in the magazine's September issue. "Send me some of your work or a nice letter, and tell me why you're interested in working here. Don't send me an email.... You have to be old-school. Be professional," Lyons said when asked what she looks for in a job candidate.
The interview has plenty of Jenna Lyons career advice, and she reiterates her managerial standpoint that employees shouldn't aggressively ask for promotions. This time she calls that behavior "a disease." Lyons tells Leive about the type of person she would promote:
The person who makes herself indispensable, that's the person you want to promote. But when someone comes in and starts asking—it's such a disease. Demanding, "I've done all this and I want X," doesn't work for me so much. [Instead] ask questions: "I'm ready to take it to the next step. What is it that I can do better?" That, to me, is an engaged, collaborative way to get somebody to the next level. You're not going to get there just because you think you're ready or because someone else got promoted. We don't sit here and create a scale where we carefully ratchet everyone up evenly. Because if that were the case, we'd all be drones. No one is a drone.... You are you.
Lyons also addresses the importance of taking on grunt work as you begin your career and that you build your skills like learning to work in teams. But seeing as J.Crew's been dealing with some very public struggles, Leive asks the brand's creative director about revenue being down. Lyons so far has been able to stay mostly above the fray, and in this interview she addresses J.Crew's challenges:
I remember Mickey saying very early on, "If you believe the good, you have to believe the bad. So don't read any of it." While it hurts and it's not fun, you have to remember that everyone's a critic these days. At the end of the day, I'm doing this because I enjoy it.... Whether the articles are good or bad, I get paid to play with sequins and color and cashmere, and that's awesome.
She even weighs in on Tilly-gate, the cropped sweater that everyone at J.Crew blames for everything:
"I know, poor Tilly! It kept getting mentioned over and over again. We had had misses in our sweater business, so it sort of became the beacon for the miss. It took on a life of its own…. The Tilly has to take some responsibility, as we all do in this building."
It's time for the Tilly to own up to its mistakes.