Executives want to look good. Need to look good. And have the money to look good. Many just don't have the time to shop. Or the knowledge of what to shop for. For them, it's a problem.
For Kim DeRienzo, the founder, owner and operator of Tailored Image in Chester, it’s a business model.
DeRienzo, with more than two decades of experience in the executive clothing industry, has found a niche going straight to the customer — and doing so at a time and place convenient to him.
“I’m a master tailor and a custom clothier,” she said. “What I do is work with men in their homes or office and provide them with their wardrobe.
“I do everything from their suits, shirts, sports coats to pants. Pretty much anything they would purchase in a finer men’s clothing store, I bring to them in the convenience of their home or office so they don’t have to go anywhere.”
DeRienzo usually meets with her clients twice a year, once in spring and once in fall, bringing various fabrics and concepts to the executives, helping them get the style and fit they want.
“I call on mills in Italy and England and they send me fabric,” she said. “Basically, I put the fabric in bags and take it to clients’ homes and they pick out what they want.
“I have software where I design the suits, and then I ship them out and have them made in Italy, Beijing or Brooklyn.”
The process comes at a cost.
DeRienzo said her custom suits start at $1,500. Dress shirts cost around $250.
DeRienzo, however, said her customer service makes it worthwhile.
“I design it, have a factory make the clothing and then bring it to the customers,” she said.
And those are customers, DeRienzo said, who don’t have the ability to do it on their own.
“My average customer is between the ages of 40 and 65,” she said. “They are presidents, CEOs, upper management, just busy executives.
“The majority of my customers travel the world. They don’t have time to shop and they don’t want to shop. So, having the convenience of me coming to them makes things a little easier.”
And, while her business caters to men, she also works with female executives.
For her, it’s just another step in a lifetime on the job.
DeRienzo says her resume is quite simple.
“I’ve always been in sales,” she said. “I grew up in Brooklyn. I graduated high school, but I never went to college. I’ve been working full-time since I was 18 years old, and I always worked in sales because I knew if I sold something, I could make as much money as I wanted.”
She wasn’t just selling anything.
“I found myself selling products that, believe it or not, always made people feel better about themselves,” she said. “I wasn’t selling Mercedes; I wasn’t selling homes. I sold weight-loss programs; I sold health club memberships; I sold makeup; I sold anything that I felt made people feel good. And I found by selling that type of product, I was happy and I was making people happy and they were buying a lot.”
She eventually became a sales trainer — then had the moment that changed her life.
“I was in New York City doing a sales training and I met my sister, who worked on Wall Street at the time, for lunch,” she said. “I was in her office and there was this woman measuring this guy in his office.
“I said to my sister, ‘What is she doing?’ She said, ‘She has an interesting job, she dresses the CEO and the president and all the upper men. She brings them beautiful clothes.’ I said, ‘That is brilliant.’ ”
DeRienzo quit her nearly-six-figure job and went to work for the woman’s company for a decade.
She then left to start a family.
Experts will differ on what’s the perfect time to start your own business.
All, however, are likely to agree that having two kids in diapers, with two more on the way, is not that time.
That was the situation for DeRienzo in the fall of 2004. But she wasn’t deterred.
“I had a plan,” she said.
DeRienzo was glad she stepped away from the workforce, but it kept pulling her back.
“I chose to leave work,” she said. “And I left because I needed to be home more, and that’s what I wanted to do. But while I was home, when I had kids one and two and was pregnant with twin girls, I decided to create Tailored Image.”
Her first sales pitch was the toughest.
“I told my husband, ‘I’m going to start my own company,’ ” she said. “He was like, ‘What? How? When?’
“I was like, ‘I’m good at this: I can work around the kids’ schedule, I can work around your schedule, I can do this.’ So, I stayed home for two years and created Tailored Image.”
The concept of the business wasn’t new. DeRienzo, after all, had been working as a stylist for executives for years.
Now, however, she was going to be designing the clothes herself. And looking for ways to increase her business.
It’s unusual for a stylist to cater to both men and women, DeRienzo said.
And adding female clients was never the goal. But four years ago, she said, she was approached by W by Worth, a clothing line that’s designed in New York City and sold by stylists.
After seeing its product line, she decided to add women’s clothing to her sales, selling to both executive women and the wives and girlfriends of her male clients.
The sale, she said, is different.
For one, she meets with women four times a year, or once per season. And these meetings take place in her showrooms in Chester and New York and are one-on-one.
Then, she says, there’s the whole male-female thing when it comes to clothing.
“Women are definitely more emotional when it comes to clothing,” she said. “If we put on something and feel beautiful, we might cry. If we feel fat, we might cry. For men, it’s really not emotional.”
Or as time-consuming.
“Women can spend a lot more time doing the shopping thing,” she said. “Men want to look good, but say, ‘Let’s be done with this.’ So, women have more patience while men are more trusting.
“I’ll make a recommendation for a gentleman and he’ll say, ‘Kim, you’re the expert, whatever you say goes,’ while women will challenge. They know I know better and this is what I do, but we’re women, we’re a little argumentative.”
In the end, however, DeRienzo said both genders come back to the same thing: looking good.
“I don’t want anyone to buy something just because,” she said. “It has to look good on them, because if they look good, they feel good. I always say, ‘When you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you perform better.’ ”
DeRienzo feels her biggest attribute is selling that feeling, not the clothes.
“I always tell the truth,” she said. “I think women and men both trust me because I won’t let them leave here without something that truly looks terrific on you.”