J Crew CEO Talks to Staff Over Intercom, Answers Phone Calls Personally

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When meeting MIckey Drexler, J Crew's fast-talking CEO, one gets the impression he wants to know everything about everyone -- and now.  To keep pace with him, in fact, it's not a bad idea to slam an espresso and down a few jelly beans beforehand.  In a recent encounter at the launch of J Crew's Bridal Boutique, we found our reporterly conversation with Drexler turned on its head, and wound up being interviewed ourselves about our family, our weekend plans, and the details of our resume (specifc dates included). Luckily, we passed the exam, and were deemed "cool" in the end.

Drexler's need-to-know approach to business is further illuminated in WSJ's massive six-page interview, "the Retail Therapist," which explores the ins-and-outs of his mind-boggling retail career (he increased revenues at The Gap from 400 million to 14 billion before being fired abruptly in 2002) but also his quirks. For example, an an elaborate intercom system allows Drexler to communicate with his staff of 695 at any time. In making himself omnipresent, Drexler has transforomed from CEO to a messianic retail figure, the architect of an empire built out of gingham, chinos and mixed-chain jewelry.

The article also discusses Drexler's unusual habit of answering all phone calls and emails personally rather than through his assistant -- a fact we can attest to after receiving a response to our post-interview email about 30 seconds after hitting "send."  Check out the complete article at WSJ Magazine.

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