It takes a special kind of woman to work in a man’s world, and an especially brave one to want to deal with dressing men for a living. We all know guys can be the worst when it comes to shopping, but Jacki Debb has made it her full time mission to help Chicago guys up their fashion game. Her new boutique, Jax & Debb is a must-stop for Windy City fashionistos, or those of us who shop for them, and she’s letting us into her world – the world of men’s clothing…
WHY DID YOU FOCUS ON MEN’S FASHION OVER WOMEN’S?
The decision to open with men’s fashion was one made out of comfort. I had previously worked in men’s fashion and knew how men shopped. […] Now, that the store has been open we are expanding into women’s. The main focus will always be men’s fashion for the pure fact that there is a lack of men’s boutiques in Chicago. All the women’s brands that we have will be a reflection of our men’s brands, we want to have consistency and focus on dual gender brands.
WHERE DID THE NAME OF YOUR STORE COME FROM?
Jax and Debb came from the fact that I wanted the store to be a reflection of me. I knew I wanted the store to be dual gender and I did not want the name to stale that. Instead of naming it “Jacki Debb,” I went with my nickname from childhood that most of my best friends still call me. It also reflects the more masculine side of my personality, the side that was not afraid to pick up a hammer and build the shelves for the store. Debb is the more feminine side and obviously homage to my family.
WHAT MAKES THE CHICAGO FASHION SCENE UNIQUE?
The Chicago fashion scene has always fascinated me. In the course of walking one block you can see so many different fashions. There is the business man wearing a full suit and tie. The business man that is into fashion wearing a three-piece suit with added touches […] chatting with his friend that is wearing joggers, Jordan’s and an A-line elongated drifter hoodie. Then there are women in vintage Chanel and Hermes having coffee with the woman in all black YSL leather and spiked Louboutins. A few feet away is a couple wearing everything from the thrift store down the street.
It’s just amazing to see all aspects of fashion in one city. I wanted to open my store in Chicago to maintain this melting pot of fashion that we have. I wanted my shop to be a place someone can come and there is a piece for everyone, whether it be a whole wardrobe or just a scarf.
HOW DO MEN AND WOMEN SHOP DIFFERENTLY?
The way men shop and the way women shop is one of the most interesting things to witness. Women come to escape and want to be immersed in the experience. They want to try everything, feel the fabrics and see it all. Or they want to grab it and go, there is no middle ground.
Most men come in and they think they know what they want. They look around and pick a few items and try them on. Or they have no idea and ask to be styled right away. The biggest difference I see is in fit. Most women go in and say “I am this size and only this size,” if the item doesn’t look good they wont buy it, where men really don’t care about the number as long as it looks good. They will try everything from a small to a large to get the look they want.
WHAT COULD WOMEN LEARN FROM MEN’S DRESS?
Through the past few years I have noticed that androgyny is making a huge impact in the fashion world once again. Women are influenced by men’s fashion much more then ever before. They are shopping men’s pieces as much as they are the women’s pieces. I think the most important thing women can learn from men’s fashion is layering. Now a days with streetwear becoming very popular there are so many different cuts so it’s fun to have three shirts with one going one way, […] all coming together to create this amazing put together look.
WHAT’S THE BEST PART OF YOUR JOB?
The best part of my job is that I get to come to work everyday and do what I love. I get to dress people for a living. I have a passion for styling. It is amazing to see how a piece of clothing can transform an outfit or how a person can come in not interested at all in fashion and leave knowing the difference between four different pairs of jeans.
AND THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU’VE RECEIVED?
[It] was from my dad. He told me “there are few decisions in life that have the potential to actually ruin your life, but if you don’t make a decision you automatically lose.” […]
The hardest part is making the actual decision and taking the risk. The only way you can ruin your life is to not take the chance, because it is either the best thing you do or you learn something and move on.
AS A WOMAN RUN BUSINESS, WHY IS IT IMPORTANT FOR WOMEN TO BE INVOLVED IN ALL AREAS OF BUSINESS (EVEN MEN’S CLOTHING)?
Being a woman in business is a very rewarding thing. I find it very interesting that when people meet me and I say I own a store, there is a slight change in the way they look at me. For some people that look turns to one of respect, but for others they look at me like…”haha very funny.”
I think it has to do with my age and that I am a woman doing this. Women have come so far in the workplace but there is still a slight stigma. I think people wonder, how can you do this? The same way guys do it. If women can run fortune 500 companies, I can run my store. Women need to do what they love, we run the world (thank you Beyonce) if we are not doing what we love and happy then no one is.
HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK LIFE BALANCE?
The work/life balance is one I am still trying to figure out. The store is still very new and is still my baby. I am always there or always thinking about it. To maintain a little balance in my life I rely on the people around me. My family and my friends are very good at telling me to be quite and stop talking about the store and just relax for a little.
HOW HAS SOCIAL MEDIA CHANGED THE WAY YOU INTERACT WITH CUSTOMERS?
We don’t have a full website running yet where you can buy online but we still have customers from all over the U.S that follow Instagram and buy that way. They know what new stuff we have in the store even though we are hundreds of miles away. The best is when we see a customer from another state post a picture on social media of a piece from our store and then see their friends like the picture and then their friends and the domino effect it has.