Jeantherapy is a specialty denim store for women and men founded by siblings Steven and Vicki Adjmi in New Orleans in 2001. The shop now has five locations in Louisiana (two in New Orleans, two in Baton Rouge and one in Metairie) and carries key premium denim brands from AG and Hudson to Mother and J Brand. While on a recent business trip to New York, Vicki recently spoke to us about her shops, what makes them special and why listening to one’s customers is always a good idea. Interview by Christopher Blomquist

What it the background and history of your stores?
I was really born into the business because when I was in my teens my father had a chain of denim stores in the ’70s and early ’80s and I learned the business by working in his stores growing up.  It was something I always wanted to get back into. I had a chain of coffeehouses and from the day I opened the first coffeehouse I said, “I should have opened up a jeans store.” It would have been before its time and I don’t know if it would have made it if I had done it at that time–it was 1991–and so I think ten years later was probably the right time. I feel like we got in at the height right before denim really hit its peak.

Inside Jeantherapy in the Canal Place mall in New Orlean's French Quarter
Inside Jeantherapy in the Canal Place mall in New Orlean's French Quarter

How would you describe the state of denim today versus then?
I think it has kind of hit a plateau at the moment, honestly. But I do believe that things are cyclical and I have no doubt that we will be picking back up very shortly.

What are Jeantherapy’s bestsellers at the moment?
People like basics. I think they like a great fitting basic. AG is one of the better ones for men. For women they love Mother and J Brand. And DL1961–people love those. And we love Hudson also. I think now it’s really about the fit. We also love Genetic and Joe’s are great too for a woman with a curvier body. I think it really has a lot to do with your body type and what fits you best.

Mens denim selection inside the Canal Street store in New Orleans
Mens denim selection inside the Canal Street store in New Orleans
What fits and styles are the most popular at the stores?
I think that the DLs and the Mothers fit everybody. And I think that 7s have become like the Levi’s of today as an entry-level basic great jean. I think people are really looking for a clean, nice wash today.

Who are your customers?
Our customers are 16 to, well, my mother wears them and she is 80. It’s everybody.

How would you describe the current retail and fashion scene in New Orleans?
It’s pretty hot. When we started 13 years ago we were six months to a year behind but I think today with the Internet and all the different fashion bloggers building up interest we are right up there with New York and LA.

How does Jeantherapy keep up with trends?
We travel every six to eight weeks to New York or LA to keep up with trends so we are on it. We just go back and forth. We walk the streets from the East Village to Barneys and are just watching and looking and trying to keep up.

What are your future plans for the business? Will you be adding stores?
We have five Jeantherapy stores and we actually have other stores called Blink and Selphi. Those are more fast fashion stores. So we have 11 stores total and we are opening four more in the next six months. The Selphi stores are a mixture of the two concepts. They are combination of our Blink fast fashion and our Jeantherapy denim stores.

What sets your stores apart from the local competition?
I think it is that we travel as much as we do and that we are on it when buying things. We get boxes in every day. Because we are able to go to New York and LA as often as we do along with going to the shows in Vegas and Dallas, we are constantly watching and looking for trends and we are making sure that we are getting them first.

The first Jeantherapy store on Magazine Street, New Orleans
The first Jeantherapy store on Magazine Street, New Orleans
What has been your favorite moment of running the stores thus far?
Getting a person in a great pair of high-end denim for the first time. When they do that and they look at themselves and they can’t believe how good they can look in a pair of denim and you see the smile come over their face, you know that they just feel really good in their jeans. You can’t ask for more than that if you can make somebody that happy. I tell people all the time that I had six coffee shops for 13 years and people would want to kill you over a $2 cup of coffee and complain about paying $2 for a cup coffee. But people want to kiss me when I sell them a pair of $200 denim. You know you’ve made them happy and given them a sense of self-confidence and that makes you feel good. Every day we get people saying, “Oh, I just don’t look good in jeans.” But we get them the right pair of jeans and they feel good about themselves. It doesn’t get better than that.

What is the secret to finding the right fit?
We train our people. You have to understand your customer. Every customer is a different customer. You have to understand their body and their shape and understand what jean is going to fit that shape. It’s really knowing your denim and knowing your customer. I’m not going to fit a 51-year-old woman the same way I am going to fit a 17-year-old girl who comes into the store. You just need to understand that. I tell the people that work for us all the time: Do not sell the customer; help the customer. And that is a very big difference. We never let people leave the store if those jeans don’t look good on them. I don’t want to just sell to somebody. I want to help them.

How large is your women’s business versus men’s?
It would say that it is 80% women, 20% men.

Womenswear at Jeantherapy, Canal Place mall
Womenswear at Jeantherapy, Canal Place mall

What would you say is the hottest up-and-coming brand in the stores?
I feel like right now that DLs, which have been around for a while, are really, really going to take off. And certain ones like AG are kind of like the silent seller. You don’t hear a lot of hype about it and there is not a lot going on but they are a great fitting jean–especially for men. You don’t hear a lot about it. They just fit.

How do you keep in touch with your customers?
We have a great relationship with our customers and our customers are repeat customers who we have had for years. We e-mail them and we call them. Our customers like to be called. They want us to call them up.

What is the “secret” of being a successful retailer today?
Listen to your customers! That is the number one thing because they tell you what they want. Our customers tell us every day and if you listen to them they are going to tell you exactly what they want. Hear them, go find it, bring it in and have it for them!

5505 Magazine Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
+1 504 897 5535