As a blog that covers men’s fashion and entrepreneurship, it only makes sense to review a company that does the same. In this J. Hilburn review I’ll discuss how co-founders Hil Davis and Veeral Rathod created a make-money-opportunity in the men’s luxury fashion industry. While some might consider MLM companies to be scams or pyramid schemes, J Hilburn changes the game by focusing more on the sales, not on the recruiting.
Please note, I am not a member or an affiliate of J.Hilburn Clothing. This review has been researched with information and testimonials that are available online in the public domain. Any conclusions drawn by myself are opinions.
What is J. Hilburn and How Does It Work?
J. Hilburn is a men’s luxury clothing brand that offers custom tailored apparel through a direct selling model (multi-level-marketing).
Most men (myself included) don’t enjoy the clothes shopping experience. Whether it’s the long lines, the inconvenience of going from store to store, trying things on, or just the hassle of finding time… it’s not an experience we look forward to.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t like nice clothes. J. Hilburn has come up with a solution through a network of personal stylists (70% of which are women according to Directselling News) who will come to you, whether it’s your home, your work or some other location that’s convenient.
With their proprietary online fit technology T.A.P.E, your stylist will take your measurements, ask questions (to get an idea of your personal style) and deliver made-to-measure clothing directly to your door. No more mall shopping.
I may be wrong (I probably am 😀 ), but as online shopping continues to steal market share from traditional stores… this could be, one day, the way we buy most of our clothes.
J. Hilburn Background
Co-founder Hil Davis was inspired by a statement made by Warren Buffet that dollar for dollar, one of his best investments was a direct-selling company called The Pampered Chef.
As an Equity Researcher with experience in retail and restaurants, he became curious about the direct-sales MLM style business model and began looking at it's potential as an opportunity. One of the challenges with MLM’s is that they are often characterized by poor quality and overpriced products.
He wondered how the direct-sales model would work with luxury products at higher price points.
Together, with Veeral Rathod, who’s background was in investment banking, they launched J. Hilburn in 2007 going from zero$ to $50 Million in revenue by the end of 2013.
Actually, it was less than zero$ at one point. Due to difficulties finding quality fabrics, and factories that could produce clothes that fit, Davis had run his credit card debt up to 6-figures and lost his home to the bank… forced to move his family into an apartment.
You can find many negative reviews and comments about J. Hilburn online, (which may or may not be justified) but considering the challenges Davis and Rathod had during the early days, you can be sure they are invested in providing great service and quality.
The business decisions they make, for right or wrong (not always making staff and stylists happy), are in the best interests of the company.
Of course, like any business… the goals of the company and it’s owners are not always aligned with the goals of those who work for it, which is a common problem in MLM's.
Is it A Scam or a Pyramid Scheme?
If you’re just skimming quickly… J. Hilburn is not a scam. Whether or not they are a pyramid scheme however, will depend on your personal definition of what a pyramid scheme is.
Legally, they are not a pyramid scheme and even though I’m not a fan of the MLM business model (and consider many to be pyramids despite their legal status), J. Hilburn’s focus on quality products and retail first leads me to steer clear of calling them one.
What’s unique here is that although you can earn commissions from downline sales and make recruiting part of your strategy, the real focus is on becoming a legitimate stylist.
Rather than being a good recruiter, which is what most MLM’s try to turn you into (with a high rate of failure), your success at J. Hilburn is dependent on providing a real service to real clients. Building a downline is secondary.
In fact, I’m not certain if this is still the case, but according to a 2013 INC article, J. Hilburn actually limits recruiting so as not to saturate local markets. This may hinder your ability to develop a true passive income, but it also prevents dozens of other stylists from going after your clients.
J. Hilburn Compensation
There have been complaints that J. Hilburn changes their compensation structure often, and not always to the benefit of their independent stylists.
So, although this information may be current as of today, at the time you’re reading this there's a strong possibility things have changed.
There are two ways to earn money with J. Hilburn.
- Direct Commissions
- Downline Commissions
The rate on both direct and downline commissions is determined by your total sales. Your sales also determine your qualification status.
- When you join J. Hilburn, you become a Style Associate (SAS)
- Once you’ve achieved $1800 in personal volume your status is Style Advisor (SAS)
- At $4000 personal volume and one qualified leg you become a Style Partner (SP)
As you can see from the chart above, your status will also determine the number of legs you can build, as well as the percentage and downline tiers you can earn commission from.
Direct commissions are what you will be more concerned with as this is where you’ll spend most of your time. The current commission rates are;
- $0 - $449 in sales – 10% Commission
- $450 - $799 in sales – 12% Commission
- $800 - $1,249 in sales – 15% Commission
- $1,250 - $1,999 in sales – 18% Commission
- $2,000 - $2,499 in sales – 20% Commission
- $2,500 - $3,999 in sales – 25% Commission
- $4,000-$5,499 in sales – 28% Commission
- $5,500 + in sales – 30% Commission
In addition to earning commissions, there are various bonuses you can earn such as title achievements and even a Lexus program… and who doesn’t want to drive a new Lexus? 😀
Updated fabric swatches can also be purchased using sales credits.
So, we’ve talked about earning, but what about spending?
To get started you must purchase a $299 Welcome Kit which includes;
- Starting Your Business Guide
- Core Fabric Swatchbooks
- J. Hilburn Stylist Magazine
- Appointment Binder and Forms
- Measuring Tools
- One on One Training as well as Group Training
- 3-month access to your own website on J. Hilburn’s sub-domain ($5/month thereafter)
In addition to these tools, there are other expenditures to consider. First, as a stylist you’ll need to look the part. As mentioned earlier, there are more women stylists than men, but if you’re the latter, you’ll want a few well fitted J. Hilburn items to show off.
Travel will also be a significant expense. If you live in a big city, you’re client pool may be large, but so will your fuel bill. In addition to gas, expect parking fees, lunches and/or dinners, as well as wear and tear on your vehicle to add up.
You may also want a stylish bag to carry around your appointment logs/forms, swatch books, measuring tools etc.
Depending on your current phone plan, adding data and minutes may also be required.
As an independent consultant/business owner you will gain some tax advantages, however, you may also need to hire an accountant or save money by purchasing your own bookkeeping software such as FreshBooks.
Before we get too far ahead of ourselves let’s talk about the product. The opportunity may be a good one, but if their clothes don’t fit as promised, or are made of poor quality fabrics… it won’t matter.
Fortunately, this is where J. Hilburn seems to stand out. While most multi-level-marketing companies sell average quality at premium prices, J. Hilburn has been able to maintain their reputation has a high-end clothing company.
For example, celebrities such as Trai Byers of the TV Show Empire can be found wearing J. Hilburn.
Here is R&B artist Leon Bridges in J. Hilburn.
The quality of J. Hilburn's clothes is on par with other name brands, and for those who purchase luxury clothing items, the price is attractive as well.
In the following video Veeral Rathod and Hil Davis (co-founders) explain how their direct to consumer model allows them to offer high quality and custom fit at a quarter of the cost you’d pay for many other name brands.
In addition to shirts, J. Hilburn offers a complete line of suits, jackets, trousers, shoes, ties, belts, socks, wallets and even luggage.
Whether you are a consumer or looking to become a J. Hilburn stylist, you have access to a diversified product line.
J. Hilburn Reviews
Reviews for J. Hilburn range from great... to not so great.
To be fair, this is a common problem with MLM type businesses. When you purchase from J. Hilburn, you’re dealing with an individual stylist. Therefore, the service someone receives and the reviews they give, are based on the stylist, or front-line person, they are dealing with.
As a result, when you read review after review, you start to wonder if people are even talking about the same company.
As a consultant or stylist, you are the front-line. Things like inaccurate measurements, pushy sales tactics, missed appointments and so on will not only lead to poor reviews, but will make it difficult for you to earn an income.
Being professional however, learning your craft and putting your clients needs first can lead to positive word of mouth and make your life much easier.
Is J. Hilburn For You?
There are other options when it comes to starting a home-based business, but J. Hilburn is certainly one to consider. Especially if you have a ‘passion for fashion’.
The secret to success in my opinion (if there is a secret to success) is enjoying what you do. That’s the primary reason to start your own business. If you’re doing something you don’t like, there are places to do that with guaranteed incomes. You may know it as something called a job.
Being an entrepreneur, especially in the beginning, means early mornings and late nights, often with little to no returns. So, even if your desire is to own your own fashion business, that passion won’t necessarily be enough.
You also need to enjoy sales. J. Hilburn uses a face to face, personal service sales model. There is an online component, and strategies you can use to automate sales which I’ll touch on below… but your primary activities revolve around face to face interaction. You will be going out, meeting people, measuring them for fit and building relationships to ensure future sales.
In other words, your business is people… the clothes are secondary.
I’m not going to tell you ‘your success is entirely up to you’.
That may sound great in motivational books, speeches and on posters, but let’s be real. When it comes to sales and networking, some people are simply better at it than others.
Also, the market for men’s luxury clothing is relatively small, and if you don’t already work in that type of environment, it will take more time (and more creativity) to develop a client base.
If you have limited financial resources and need to work 40+ hours a week to pay your mortgage and feed your family… building a J. Hilburn business by driving around town is going to be tough.
I’m not saying you can’t do it, but in certain circumstances you may find that building an online business is a better option.
Ultimately, deciding if J. Hilburn is for you is about what you’ll need to DO (on a daily basis), rather than what you’d like to have. Everyone (well… most people) would love to have a successful home business and freedom to work when they want, but there’s a reason the success rate for MLM’s is so low.
Those who enjoy sales (and recruiting) are far and few between… and trying to do something you don’t like to do over and over and over, like sticking to a strict diet, is not easy.
It’s Not Really YOUR Business
If you’ve decided that J. Hilburn is for you, there are some things you need to be aware of.
One of the problems with MLM’s (and similar arrangements like a franchise), is that the business you build doesn’t really belong to you. It may seem that way, but you’re still working for a single company.
If for any reason you want to quit or leave to try something new, your organization and future sales are left behind.
Some companies even require that you sign a non-compete agreement… meaning you can’t sell similar products to your clients for a specified duration of time, which could be years. In other words, all of your networking efforts could be wasted as well.
You’ve built a business that’s dependent on a single company and product line, and making a change would mean starting from scratch. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it, but you do need to be aware that there are limitations to this type of home-based business.
Sales and Marketing Strategies
I wasn’t able to find J. Hilburn’s terms of service for consultants, but with the above issue in mind… a strategy I’d recommend so you’re not bound to a single supplier is to build a diversified business of your own. And then, you can include J. Hilburn clothing as a product line.
Develop your business in such a way that you’re not 100% dependent on J. Hilburn. If for any reason you want to break your relationship with them (such as a negative change in compensation, product quality, price or customer service), you still have your core business.
For example, a good strategy would be to start an online affiliate marketing business in a similar niche; grooming products for men as an example, or luxury watches.
Not only can you widen your client base (and still appeal to a similar demographic), but you can also increase commissions through additional products. More importantly, you will no longer be dependent on a single company… which is often the biggest issue people have being stuck in a job.
Another reason an online business is a good idea, as mentioned earlier... is that you can automate much of the process and build a business that provides real freedom.
There are many programs that will teach you how to build a diversified business that YOU own, but many are niche or product specific.
There are many programs that will teach you how to build a diversified business that YOU own, but many are niche or product specific.
Combine that with J. Hilburn apparel and the personalized services you provide your clients, and you have a recipe for a very a profitable business.
And of course… you have access to one-on-one (and group) training through J. Hilburn. The quality of that training will depend on your upline, so you may or may not need additional help and support.
What I Like About J. Hilburn
What I Don’t Like
As far as MLM’s go, J. Hilburn offers a unique opportunity and sales model with relatively low start-up costs.
It’s not as low as starting an online business mind you, which can be less than fifty bucks (or even free if you know where to look) and not have to worry about fuel as well as wear & tear on your vehicle.
But there is no question what Hil Davis and Vareel Rathod have created something extraordinary here. If you’re into men’s fashion and have the gift of gab, there is a real opportunity here for you… and one that hasn’t been saturated and marketed to death like some of the other common MLM’s out there.
Recommendation: Yes (for the right person)
I hope you found my J. Hilburn review useful and please, if you have any questions, comments or even a review of your own I encourage you to share below in the comments. Other readers will benefit from your insights.
Also, if you found this review informative, or think it would be helpful for others, please share 😀
PS - J. Hilburn provides a great opportunity if you're interested in starting a men's fashion business, but if you're unsure about clothing as a home business, or face to face selling isn't your thing... you can get started online in thousands (millions actually) of other niches and create something you're passionate about. Click Here to learn the exact strategies I've used to build my online business and turn passion into profit.