A few years ago, Justin Jeffers was just another ordinary guy working as an auditor at Deloitte in New York City. His life as an auditor was bland and vanilla, but he found a passion along the way that encompassed menswear and the finer things in life. While at Deloitte, Justin started the menswear blog The Fine Young Gentleman which became the best distraction he ever created during his accounting career. He saw it as a great way to foster his interest in menswear and tailored clothing. It was also a great escape from his actual work as an auditor and the dreaded CPA exam that those in the accounting field are all too familiar with. Justin faced a crossroads in his career. Does he choose his steady, safe job at Deloitte, or does he take a risk and pursue his passion for menswear?
Fast-forward a few months, and lucky for us, he chose the latter. With a choice between the CPA and a sweet pair of loafers, who wouldn’t choose the latter? He parted ways with Deloitte and was off to the races with his brand new loafer business, Jay Butler, which he named after his grandfather and great grandfather. After nearly two years of research, design, testing, and sourcing, Jay Butler was launched in November of 2014. Instead of assembling a team to split the duties, Justin decided to go all-in and do everything on his own. The remarkable part about his journey is that he had absolutely zero experience in setting up a business. Justin explained, “At points, I was literally knocking on random doors in Mexico hoping that they could make my shoes or that they could make the leather for my shoes. Sometimes, I researched the places I would approach. Other times, someone would recommend I check a certain street or door, and other times it was totally random.” The beginning wasn’t easy, but it’s been an unforgettable adventure for Justin. After figuring out the back-end and design aspects of business, it was time to launch. “I remember the first sale that came in that was not from someone I knew. That’s when I knew this whole thing was real and not for nothing. That was a beautiful thing and a beautiful feeling.”
Since the launch, business has been non-stop for Justin and Jay Butler. There were 19 original loafer variations: 4 styles with 4-5 colors each. The Cromwell Penny Loafer, Shipley Tie Loafer, and Millbank Bit Loafer are the popular originals that sparked Jay Butler’s growth and popularity. Since then they have added a few new colorways, including the brown perforated bit loafer for this upcoming summer. Jay Butler also offers up pairs of either alligator or ostrich leather loafers (How badass would it be to stroll around wearing nothing but alligator or ostrich leather on your feet?). The loafer’s styles are inspired primarily by the classic American penny loafer, the Gucci bit loafer, and the Italian driving shoe. Justin felt that incorporating different styles from each of the classics would make for a luxury loafer without the luxury price. “I wanted to create a loafer that had those classic lines of the penny loafer and bit loafer, but with a sleeker look and a softer feel, like driving shoes. I wanted the shoes to feel like slippers when worn, not like shoes. Which is why the vamp is a little shorter and the sole a little thinner than many shoes you see today.” While Jay Butler has added belts and bags to its list of product offerings, Justin admits that the loafers are their bread and butter. “Going forward, I’d like to take away some of the current variants and add new ones. Change things up a little for our customers. I would also love to go into welted dress shoes and boots, but that is still a ways off. There is still much to do with the loafers.”
Recently, Justin has been busy with restocking sold-out items and shooting promotional videos showing the manufacturing process of his loafers. He hopes to share the production process soon so that he can demonstrate the quality and craftsmanship in each pair. The video is shot in POV style, and Justin says that he doesn’t think anyone has ever attempted a feat like this before. Needless to say, he’s pretty pumped about it.
Jay Butler’s loafers pair exceptionally well with just about any classic suit, tailored jeans, or casual blazer on the market. Their design makes for a comfortable shoe that is perfect for any setting and climate. Whether you like the classics, the perforated, suede, or even the ostrich leather, Jay Butler has the perfect style for any gentleman. From the bar to the board room, take your #JourneysWithJay.
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