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From the
Desk of ...

Billy Reid

Designer and Founder, Billy Reid

 
 
Work desk of Billy Reid designer and founder
Work desk of Billy Reid designer and founder

Billy Reid is the ultimate Southen gentleman. Growing up in Louisiana, he watched his mother run a boutique and later studied art and design before working at Saks Fifth Avenue and Reebok, developing products and designing before stepping out to launch his own line. Unfortunately, the dismal economic conditions in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks forced him to close and move to his wife's hometown of Florence, Alabama, in order to regroup and try something new. He reintroduced his brand under the name Billy Reid and opened his first shop in New York City, on the very day the stock market crashed in 2008. That is to say: Billy Reid the man, a champion of American style, doesn't have an ounce of quitting in him.

He's no stranger to hard work and determination, and that kind of grit and grace shows up in his clothes. He's built a solid business, giving men just what they need, when they need it most. Garments that are at once timeless and yet feel very “of the moment”. It's how he can make the pea coat Daniel Craig wore as James Bond and an old school denim shirt, along with the kind of knit polos that no wardrobe feels complete without these days. The Alabama-based designer now oversees a team of over 100 people, running the brand with a dozen stores and a worldwide operation with collaborations in the eyewear and homeware spaces. How does he do it all? We stopped by his office to find out.

What’s currently
on my desk

Billy Reid portrait

Honestly, this desk reminds me of when I started my business.

It's not much different now than when I launched the label from our bedroom many years ago. Today, I do most of my work from home, and that helps me focus and get stuff done efficiently. I have always gotten up early and work best focusing on tasks, not the clock. That freedom is key for me, personally.

My schedule changes, as needed.

There is no rhythm other than being an early riser. I wake up at daylight or earlier in the morning. I like to get many of my tasks done before other folks start working. Sometimes I work late at night, especially for research projects.

Hotel Chelsea New York pen

The newest item on my desk ...

Is a pen from the Hotel Chelsea in New York. A good customer in our Florence, Alabama, shop gave it to me along with a copy of a story about my apartment at the Hotel Chelsea.

Ball gown pin cushion
Ball gown pin cushion

But the oldest and most sentimental item ...

Has to be a few little pieces that my children made out of red clay while in elementary school. And a very old pin cushion in the shape of a ball gown that I found when we moved to Alabama many years ago.

The team uses Google Calendar.

Those notifications are big help to keep us all in line and up to date. Staying ahead of the calendar on major milestone commitments regarding seasonal design is essential. It takes the pressure off the deadlines. But, personally, I'm more of a to-do list person as the tasks themselves usually keep me on track.

Billy Reid's work desk
Billy Reid's work desk

I’m a pencil-and-paper
kind of guy.

Always have been. Of course, digital is inevitable today. But I prefer to start with rough sketching for everything from bodies and big ideas to graphics.

I don’t rely on a lot of apps.

Apple Pages is my go-to presentation app. And it gets a workout with a now digitally reliant team.

Music is a constant when
I’m at work.

It helps keep me focused and I like the vibe it sets.

Billy Reid Fall 2024 fabric swatches
Billy Reid Fall 2024 fabric swatches

In meetings,
I want to ban ...

All those abbreviations, if only because I have no clue what they mean, and I fear others might be just as confused. KPI? SNS and WIP? RF1... what the heck does all this mean? SOS! We also set a timer for meetings. That's a helpful tactic that aids my sanity.

I rarely, if ever, eat lunch at my desk.

Some days, you just can't get away, but I really prefer to take lunch away from the desk. It gives you a break, which is often so needed. Especially for your creativity.

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But I do believe in “inbox zero”.

Does it always happen? No way. But it sounds good to me and it's something we can strive for, right?

Billy Reid work outfit
Billy Reid work outfit

I still like getting dressed for work.

On the day-to-day, I keep it pretty comfortable in general. But if I have commitments involving being in front of customers or other business-related tasks, I may dress up appropriately.

“Switching off” after work isn’t always easy.

There's no real end point, everything runs together. It's hard to separate work and personal in my world, but I'm used to it after all these years, and works for me.

Consistency and resiliency are the keys to success.

I think that's what helped me get to where I am today. Do what you believe in and do it with integrity.

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