Talking Small Biz: Tailor-made imagery

Brian Lipstein, CEO of Henry A. Davidsen Master Tailors & Image Consultants.
Brian Lipstein, CEO of Henry A. Davidsen Master Tailors & Image Consultants. (David Maialetti / Staff photographer)
Posted: November 29, 2012

Brian Lipstein, 28, of Manayunk, is CEO of Henry A. Davidsen Master Tailors & Image Consultants, which he founded in 2006. From a shop on 17th Street near Spruce, the Penn graduate creates a custom-tailored look that fits the image a client wants to project. Clients have included Flyers coach Peter Laviolette, former Eagle Ron Jaworski and radio/TV personality Danny Bonaduce.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for the company?

A: I started selling high-end custom suits for $2,500. The main thing was a custom fit and message a tailored suit sends. We looked at high-end suits that are sewn together and low-end suits that are glued together.

Q: How did you land on the name of your company?

A: I didn't want to name it after myself - I wanted to grow a brand. I researched gentlemen who were well-dressed from the 1940s and '50s, and found Henry Davidsen, who was a [diplomat] known for being dapper. It's a distinctive, strong name, and since he was deceased there was no issue in using the name.

Q: I see you jumped up the list of fast-growing companies on the Philadelphia 100 list this year.

A: We added two employees this year, never had payroll before. The brand has started to develop its own business rather than me developing the business. We also brought our tailor in-house, which no other custom shop in the city really has.

Q: Give me your sales pitch.

A: It's about appearance, behavior and communication. I have a client who's head of a construction company, attending more events, and needs to look the part. We got him into a handmade navy suit that had a nice, clean drape to it, and all of a sudden people started noticing him. He looks successful, people want to align themselves with him, and he doesn't have to fight for business.

Q: Who are your clients?

A: Most are businessmen. We do a lot of wedding work. Lawyers, some doctors, financial advisers, sales managers, CEOs, CFOs, some company presidents. We can bring great value to a lawyer.

Q: What do you say to a guy who surfs or reads Esquire, and says, "I don't need you, I can get free advice"?

A: I'll say we're not for everybody. We have to be a fit for our clients, and our clients a fit for us.

Q: If I'm interested in coming to see you, what's it going to cost?

A: If you just want image service, we'd sit down and evaluate who you are, what you do and what's in your wardrobe. We can do that, $250 for the first three hours, then $100 per hour after that. When you come to me and say, "I'm ready to buy a suit," everything we've discussed is preparing you for the right equipment. Suits start at $650 and go up to several thousand.


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