Alan Vinson is the proprietor of James Taylor Vinson Company, a professional clothier named for his great-grandfather. He started the business almost a year ago.
SELF-EMPLOYED AND LOVING IT
“I’m having a blast with having my own company. It’s a lot of fun to be able to control the business and improve on it in a way that is more me.”
He has a bachelor’s degree in advertising and communications with a minor in political science from the University of Florida.
WHY THE BIG CAREER CHANGE?
“I knew I wanted to be in a position where I was marketing directly to the community and serving the people in some way. It so happens that I have a penchant for nice clothing so the idea appealed to me. At any point in my life, it could have been said to me that I dress well. I’ve had custom-made shirts and suits since I was 18, 19-years-old.”
“I got started working with the Tom James Company in Gainesville and built the business from there. There was a gentleman measuring me for suits and I decided to work with him. I became a haberdasher.”
In the industry for eight years, Vinson made a point of putting his personal stamp on the business. “I’ve made it extremely simple for gentleman to work with me. I give them a few options and have created packages so they can try me out. Many include three suits and six shirts. They pick from a group of fabrics. It’s geared towards them seeing me once a year; kind of like a power-shopping trip. Most guys like this approach, knocking it all out at once.”
“This field is becoming more competitive. More retailers are looking at the virtues of this approach because it provides a great service to customers and minimizes the overhead associated with a retail store. For the end user, it cuts down on the price for a custom-made suit. It is a business with a real growing percent of the population using this type of approach. People are figuring out that this is a good way to buy clothes. It’s a good business to be in; people will always need clothes.”
WHAT’S REWARDING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
“Building good friendships with people in my community as an outgrowth of calling on business people who are influential. It is good to be associated with them.”
WHO ARE YOUR CLIENTS?
“Professionals at the mid-level, executives and on up. It also encompasses those hard to fit that have to have clothing made. For whatever reason, it is hard for them to buy off the rack. Much of my lead generation is done by referral.”
ANY FEMALE CUSTOMERS?
“Everything I do is doable for women as well, but my expertise is in men’s clothes. Women like having the ability to customize and put together their own clothes through my service, picking and choosing colors and styles. Some professional women may not have time to shop or may be hard to fit.”
“I have lengthy discussions about their preferences to gather information about how they like their clothes to fit, what they like and don’t like. Then I usually do a virtual walk-through of their wardrobe to help me see what’s in there already. In some cases I actually make a trip to the home to take inventory as a basis for planning; if it’s difficult for them to remember what they have or how to categorize it, or if they want their closet cleaned out. I’ll help them get those clothes to Goodwill.”
Vinson, his wife Christine and children Brody and Jordan live in Mandarin.
NO MORE JEANS AT WORK
“I follow dress trends, company policies and clothing care. Everybody is starting to dress up again [at the office]. The casualness of the 1990s is going away. Men want to look more powerful, serious and less sloppy.”
Since his arrival in Jacksonville in 2000, Vinson has been drawn to the beach. He lists beach volleyball, running, spending time with his children or riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle as his favorite things to do. For pizza, Vinson recommends Leonardo’s 706 in Gainesville.
—by Monica Chamness