For Baltimore clothier Judah Estreicher, growing up with three sisters made at least one huge impression. “Looking good was pretty important,” he said.
Today, Estreicher owns and operates JBD Clothiers, a high-end custom-clothing business that dresses a wide range of people from Ravens stars Joe Flacco and Torrey Smith to Bank of America board member Frank Bramble.
Raised Orthodox, Estreicher, 28, moved to Pikesville when he was 8 years old from Columbus, Ohio.
“I think the biggest change was the Jewish community,” he said of the move to the Baltimore area.
In Columbus, the Jewish community was small and everybody knew each other, regardless of sect. In Baltimore, the size of the community blew him away.
In a family of lawyers and doctors, Estreicher said he is the token salesman. After struggling with reading-comprehension problems and dyslexia in school, he graduated from Beth Tfiloh Dahan Community School and moved to New York for college. When his father passed away, he moved back to Maryland to finish his degree at home.
At home, he wanted to find a job to occupy some of his spare time, so he reached out to a family friend who had started a luxury clothing company, Astor & Black.
His first day at the company, Estreicher outsold every other staff member hired that year. In his first year, he sold more than any other new employee and was named Rookie of the Year. His career was launched, and he quickly rose through the ranks to head the company’s Baltimore-Washington-Virginia region.
At 23 years old, Estreicher was helping some of the most recognizable men in Baltimore build their wardrobes.
“I kind of had to earn my stripes,” he said.
Especially with the businessmen.
“It definitely took time to build a rapport with them,” he said.
After working for Astor & Black for three years, Estreicher felt an urge to move on. He left the company and traveled the world for a year before
finally coming home to Baltimore to start his own clothing business.
Although he technically is a transplant to the region, Estreicher said he had no doubt he wanted to keep his business in the Baltimore region.
“You know, everyone talks about how much opportunity there is in New York and Chicago and other places, but the truth is, Baltimore’s the best because there is an incredible amount of opportunity,” said Estreicher. “I think Baltimore’s starting to get more into going out and getting dressed up. With the amount of competition that’s local, I think Baltimore is a great place to be.”
While JBD’s office is in Towson, clients seldom see the workspace itself. The process usually begins with an interview, where Estreicher or one of his employees speaks with the client and gets a feel for the style the client is looking for. Next, Estreicher or another JBD professional, visits the client at home or in his office with look books and swatches and decides with the client the style, size and material for the suit. Then, the garments are made and brought to the client for the initial fitting. With alterations and more fittings, the process takes about four to six weeks and suits can cost as much as $3,000 or more, said Estreicher.
Although JBD is still a relatively young company, Estreicher is proud to say he has more than 200 clients and is looking to hire more staff. His biggest clients, he said, come from referrals or introductions. Almost never off the clock, he attends events and collects phone numbers of potential clients.
“If I meet you and you give me your phone number,” he said, “I’m going to try to book you.”
Heather Norris is a JT staff reporter — firstname.lastname@example.org