How This Former Banker Became a Trending Menswear Designer

Robert Pauley III, aka the Welthē guy, is fabulously wealthy, at least if you look at life the way he does: Where wealth is not just about money, it’s about happiness and feeling good. Pauley is the successful entrepreneur behind Welthē NYC, a dapper men’s suit collection and grooming brand; a thriving retail website, and the one-two punch of being both a tasteful designer and an authoritative influencer. His is the story of how one coat made all the difference. 

The Financial Times

Pauley’s resume was built in the world of finance, bringing a decade of experience at powerhouses J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley to the table. “I did a lot of jobs where I had to make presentations,” says Pauley. “I worked in change management and business processes. It was all about working with teams to develop process efficiency — both with people, as well as from a tech perspective — to solve problems and standardize processes.”

 

As a kid, Pauley loved men’s suiting and people getting dressed up. “I wanted that to be me! I liked movies like Wall Street and old movies with men in smoking jackets. I was fascinated with that world and when I had a high school internship at a bank, I always wore a suit. I loved seeing how people reacted and having the opportunity to ‘put some respect on my name’.” Even now he’s a fan of historical dramas like Peaky Blinders and The Crown. 

Pauley went on to college and did an internship in Wuhan, China, where he learned a lot about Asian culture. When he embarked on his professional career he was sent to Hong Kong, where he developed a taste for fine bespoke tailoring. 

“I started to get a reputation for my style, and always stood out. People would ask what I was doing there, and say ‘you should work in fashion.’ I had a good job with a great salary and benefits: What would take me away from that?”

Start With One Great Coat

Like so many of us, though, Pauley began to be concerned about his personal legacy. “I was doing all this work for great companies, but who is going to remember that I was here?” The answer presented itself. Pauley created a distinctive coat for himself, with a detachable fur collar. The coat was an immediate sensation, and before long he found himself taking orders to make the coat for others. 

His hobby turned into a side hustle and began to grow. He showed a small collection during Atlanta Fashion Week, where he was offered the opportunity to do an all-expenses-paid show in Chicago, Illinois. “I didn’t get quite the traction I’d hoped for, but in the process of making the samples, I realized — because I’m all about process efficiency — that I would be my own model, and made every suit to fit me.” Luckily Pauley’s trim frame, good looks, and ebullient personality are Instagram-friendly. 

“I first joined social media so I could keep touch with friends and family while I was In Hong Kong,” says Pauley. “I had maybe 150 friends on Facebook and Instagram.” At press time he’s grown @welthenyc on Instagram to nearly 7,700 followers and is utilizing all social media channels, including an engaging YouTube channel. He also hosts the My People podcast featuring influencers in business, fashion, and lifestyle. 

Portrait Orientation

The Welthē Guy’s compelling photography and video is also a driving force for his online presence. 

“When I started the business I needed to photograph the coats, so I bought a $2,500 camera but realized I didn’t really know how to use it. I ended up taking a $30 photography class from Groupon where I learned some basic concepts. Three months later I noticed that they were looking for a trainer for the same class. I applied and, because of my training experience, got the job! It was a great way for me to supplement my income while I started the business; and  teaching photography helped me learn even more about cameras and lighting.” 

When a job-seeking neighbor asked if he could borrow Pauley’s laptop, he noticed all the photography equipment and asked Pauley to shoot his headshot for him. Before long Pauley’s entrepreneurial mind hatched another concept where he partnered with a party promoter to do photo-booth style portraits at events. 

“I didn’t make a lot of money, but it was a great way to meet people. That led to other photography jobs, and I eventually scored one shoot that paid $10,000, which really helped supplement my income as I built my fashion business.”

This episode birthed another concept that’s become a mainstay of the Welthē experience. As a stylist, Pauley helps his clients transform their wardrobes. With Welthē images, he helps capture the metamorphosis. 

“You’ve spent time and money putting yourself together, and now it’s time to show off your new confidence. It’s like in the past when somebody would commission a painting of themselves. At first, I didn’t think men would be into this, but so many are! It’s a great way to spoil yourself and leave something for your legacy.” 

It wasn’t long before celebrity stylists came calling, but Pauley had no interest in giving clothes away. Turns out he didn’t have to. Music executive Damon Dash approached him. “He said he’d been following me and was coming to New York. I fitted him and made him six coats. Turns out he was wearing them during the time when he was in the media over child support issues. His picture was all over Page Six and in all the pictures he’s wearing my coat!” 

As a fashion collection Welthē NYC currently includes tailored clothing, from suits, coats, jackets, and trousers to shirts. The accessories collection includes ties, scarves, ascots, pocket squares, and shoes (He also has a few female clients). In building a lifestyle brand, Pauley has also introduced a grooming collection with fragrance, skincare, and a beard oil. Even before the pandemic, Pauley was servicing an international clientele with virtual fittings and appointments. 

“I almost get depressed putting on those standard medical masks, so I created some fashionable masks in lots of bright colors and traditional menswear fabrics to make people feel better.”

What could be next for Pauley? “I’m excited for what the future holds! Despite the pandemic, I actually found I had a prom business last spring, so I’m looking to develop a younger customer. I’m seeing that parents are not flinching at dropping $1,000 on a custom suit for their kids. I’ll definitely be looking to technology to see about selling live on social media. Otherwise, I am trying to grow. This business is not easy to scale because I’m doing all this on my own. My next step is to find people with the right skill set, because right now I’m running around like crazy. I want to continue to help people feel good about themselves. Being wealthy is not just about money. It’s about happiness and feeling good. For me, it’s about seeing the difference when my clients put on their new looks.”

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