My secret to success is not a secret at all. Everyone knows the secret sauce, but most don’t want to get in the kitchen to figure out the food science of it all. When I started in the business in 1994 I did not have a circle of influence. I did not even have custom clothing. What I did have was a passion for fashion, pleasant persistence and a “zig while they zag” mentality. Without sharing trade “secrets”(you have to pay for that in the near future), I can tell you that I went about acquiring my clients in an unorthodox manner. I communicated with my clients differently than most clothiers, even to date. My clients consider me their trusted advisor who is just as paramount to their success as their financial advisor or business mentor. I have been known to have an immaculate follow up system. One of my insurance industry clients says that he has never met anyone who follows up better than me. Living up to that standard is truly important to me. All I know is, if I don’t follow up, then someone else will.
2. Mr. Clark, what is your vision for the next 5 years and what legacy you want to leave in your family and for your fashion industry?
I am an advocate for writing down all my goals and aspirations if I want them to manifest. If you look in my phone notes section you will find goals galore. I get much pleasure of being a wardrobe advisor who supplies the garments to my everyday clients and referral sources like image consultants and wedding coordinators. However, in 5 years I see myself sharing my expertise and trade secrets(that I alluded to earlier) with other clothiers who are trying to build and sustain their business. I was trained by one of the best in the business and now I feel that I am the best. In the custom clothing industry we are always training our competitors, literally. If that’s the case, once they are ready to go on their own then I can still advise them as to how to retain their clients. In a nutshell, I want to be “The Custom Clothier Whisperer”. I can’t think of a better way to leave my legacy and imprint on the industry. As for my family, I am hopeful that I have demonstrated the value of education and relational capital to my 3 children. Being raised by an African American from the inner city and a Vietnamese emigrant they realize that anything is possible as long as one is willing to invest in themselves.
3. Mr. Clark, how do you maintain balance in your life as a successful business man? Why 8 hours a day of sleep is so important to you?
I attribute my work/family balance to my wife. She has always kept me grounded to the fact that children really only crave time spent with their parents. I could have worked like a banshee but the exchange was not worth the risk. Thus we decided that I would volunteer in their classes. As a matter of fact, I was even the President of their PTA one year. Since I spent a great deal of time at their school during the day, it required that I do a lot of work at night which means there was not 8 hours of sleep. Now that 2 of my children are in college and the other a junior in high school, there is more time to sleep. Regardless , I tend to still rise at 5:30 am since most of my cloth vendors and manufacturers operate on Eastern time. So to answer your question, I would suggest asking yourself if money or time would be what your children crave the most from you as a parent.
Trent Clark, aka, Trent the Gent is the founder of Upper Echelon, a fine custom clothing company based in Seal Beach, Ca. For over 24 years Trent has visited his clients at their offices and/or home. Trent’s goal is to become accountable for his clients’ images via their wardrobes and advice. Trent operates under the wise words of Oscar Wilde, “You can never be overdressed nor over educated.” Trent has dressed the likes of high powered trial attorneys to financial titans to NFL owners to 9th Circuit Court of Appeal Judges to public speaking legends. Trent is disrupting the bespoke clothing industry by traveling to his clients along with his master tailor to ensure optimal fit. Trent has become the preeminent custom clothier by building his business via referral only. One of Trent’s long-time clients says, “If you value your personal brand/image then an introduction to Trent the Gent is a blessing and an honor.”