You might not know exactly how it happens, but you will always know why. After all if you find your why and mix it with your passion, your purpose and unrelenting persistence then you’ve found the right recipe, then anything is possible.
People who are truly living this grand adventure we call life can easily start one place, end up somewhere else – and love every minute of it, especially when they know they are changing other lives along the way. Bring joy to the journey and we all win.
Everyone has a story.
I am Mark Brodinsky and this is The Sunday Series.
The Sunday Series (89): The Perfect Fit
No matter how big you get, you always start small.
“I grew up in a small town”, says Veeral Rathod. “Both my mom and dad are physicians and I still remember being out and about almost anywhere, at the grocery store, at the Walmart, and all the time someone would come up to one of them and say ‘Dr. Rathod you took care of me in the hospital, or you saved my life, or you saved my mom or dad’s life’. I remember craving that connection that often times you don’t get in your job. You think my job is where I can earn money to take care of me and my family – but take it deeper – where the income comes from something which inspires you and motivates you every day…then that’s a powerful feeling.”
It’s exactly that feeling, the desire for that personal connection which has been the driver for Veeral Rathod each day for the past eight years he has helped to build the multi-million dollar direct-to-door custom men’s clothier, J. Hilburn. Recognize a need, fulfill it. Turn that need into a desire which makes other people feel good about themselves and can literally have a direct impact on the trajectory of their lives. Look good, feel good, live well. At it’s core, this is the concept which defines J. Hilburn: a personally tailored wardrobe of clothing for men and a perfectly fitted life opportunity for the stylists who help bring Veeral Rathod’s vision to life every day. A vision which last year produced more than $50 million in revenue for J. Hilburn.
The man who dove headfirst into investment banking right out of college – decided he had some other ideas and passions, inspired not only by his parents, but also by the pure energy, vitality, and feelings of innovation and disruption fostered by the start-ups he visited and helped to nurture during those early days of his career. It was during this time Veeral met his J. Hilburn co-founder, Hill Davis. The two men always had a strong sense of style and after business trips to London and Europe they were truly inspired. Veeral says he was impressed by how the European men loved tailored clothing, how they presented themselves, how they dressed like true gentlemen. “I like dressing well”, says Veeral. “You feel good when you are dressed well, everyone looks at you a little differently. People like how you show attention to detail and you also derive a strong sense of confidence when you care about how you look.”
So J. Hilburn was created to solve the three biggest problems for men when it comes to fashion:
It’s hard for men to find clothes that fit well.
Most men don’t know what to wear, or how to wear it if they find it
And men don’t have the time, or like to take the time to shop for clothes.
Veeral says the goal has been to get the apparel that’s the same as the high-quality fashion stores, where the clothes fit really well, then use a direct sales model to build the brand. “It’s the practical application to build our brand”, says Veeral. “Made to measure suits, custom shirts, personalization across all categories. It’s why we go direct to consumer, create a client relationship and help the man educate himself about getting better and looking better.”
Help others get what they want, you will in turn get what you want. Speak to Veeral for only a few minutes and you can hear the conviction in his voice and in his mission for J. Hilburn. “I can sum it up in this statement”, says Veeral. “It’s not a tag line, but our north star, our goal, our mission, our vision – to inspire a more personal style of life. What does that mean? We’re all in a world where we want to express our individuality, to do something meaningful to us as individuals, we don’t all want to be the same. So as we develop our story and brand story, how do we help men express their individuality? How do we give our personal stylists a greater sense of purpose in life?
Veeral tells the story of one stylist from Dallas who is very involved in her religious group and has been going on mission trips. He said she uses J. Hilburn to help support her family with income, but uses a lot of the money she earns to fund her mission trips, then comes back and shares those stories with everyone. These life experiences, the depth of these relationships inspire Veeral not only for his company, but in his personal life as well.
The foundation of a meaningful life is to build the right relationships, the right connections, be human, show appreciation…to simply care. Another J. Hilburn stylist, Laura McAndrew in Maryland, says after a chance meeting with the J. Hilburn CEO at the Dallas Headquarters she saw him again, months later at a meeting in Virginia. Laura says, “out of the 3,500 stylists who work for J. Hilburn I thought there was no way Veeral would remember my name, but I was wrong. He came right up to me at the meeting and said, ‘Hi Laura. I’m glad you could be here.’ I think saying he made me feel important is an understatement.” (https://lauramcandrew.jhilburn.com/)
As Veeral says himself, “relationships drive the world. When I think about relationships, what they are really all about is that most people love to talk about themselves, but a key differentiator between those who just connect and those who truly build relationships is you let other people talk about themselves and you talk less. Get to know these people at a deeper level.”
It’s this philosophy which goes to the heart of the J. Hilburn brand and the concept of getting the client what he wants. Listen, give personal attention, respond to the need, fill the void and then make the man feel great about himself. Veeral says it can be the smallest touch: “When you put your J. Hilburn shirt on in the morning, we’ve monogrammed your initials into the collar of your shirt, you see your name on that shirt, not some designer or store name. It makes it unique, it makes it personal.” And it’s this brand experience and more importantly this emotional experience that Veeral looks for as the key component, the driver for the J. Hilburn stylists, to make sure they are informed about the products and passionate about the opportunity to help their client.
The feeling of building something, a company you truly care about and a company that cares is what drives Veeral each and every day.
So how can you do what Veeral is doing, building and growing a multi-million dollar company? How can any of us take an idea, a purpose, a passion and make dream a reality? Veeral Rathod has some thoughts: “You hear a lot of advice to follow your dreams and personally I believe this has a lot of merit. And as I peel it back I think this – if you do something you are inspired or passionate about and put your heart and your drive into it, it helps push you through the tough times. You have to be smart about the commercial opportunity as well, be realistic about the intersection of passion and your expectations. What that means to me, it doesn’t have to have economic value – and this is huge – that is my litmus test in building J. Hilburn. My takeaway from this experience is I am doing what I am excited about, I love clothing and style and love to build stories around fashion, it becomes a deeper emotional opportunity for myself, the stylists and the clients.”
The experience, even when you love it, of being the CEO of a multi-million dollar company does not come with out its share of stress. Veeral says he handles his tight schedule with making sure he spends his spare time focused on exercise, which allows him to “blow off a little steam, plus exercise is in your control, we all know biochemistry, it just makes you feel better”, says Veeral. And the focus and the wonder of his growing family. “We have two little girls now and when you see them smile at you or hear them talk, it makes the big stresses of life seem a lot less important.”
In the end, whether you are the CEO of a multi-million dollar business, or the person simply trying to make a living day-to-day, we all want to make a contribution. At the end of the day, you must think about how you want to be remembered. Veeral says the definition of his time here on earth is simple and it goes back to the story of his parents being doctors and the connections they formed with their patients saving lives: “I reflect back on my upbringing. If I can offer someone the opportunity to provide a better life then that’s the right way to be remembered.”
Until next time, thanks for taking the time
Mark Brodinsky, Author, Blogger, Speaker, Speech Writer, Emmy Winner, USHEALTH Advisors
Author: The #1 Amazon Best Seller: It Takes 2. Surviving Breast Cancer: A Spouse’s Story
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