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On Small Business
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Posted at 10:20 AM ET, 05/16/2013

Start-up founders ditch conventional dress codes

On Small Business routinely reaches out to a panel of entrepreneurs for answers to some of the most pressing questions facing small business owners. The following responses are provided by members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC).

Q: What is your dress code policy for employees? What’s the right balance between maintaining professionalism and allowing your team some freedom with their attire?


(Zsolt Nyulaszi)

Manpreet Singh, founder/president of Seva Call in Potomac, Md.:

“I have no idea how I or anyone else got any work done at my old finance job. Today, if we’re all putting our best foot forward professionally, no one cares whether or not that foot is clad in shiny leather wingtips. Women limping up and down hallways in high heels and guys constantly re-tucking their shirts all day? Not here.

Long hours and focused attention require maximum comfort. And, to make sure everyone’s comfortable being comfortable, we actually discourage guests and job applicants from dressing to impress around the office as well.

Every minute our staff spends thinking about how they look is a minute away from making the business look good by producing quality work. So, the right balance is one that allows everyone to focus on the work we’re all so passionate about. So far, I’ve managed to work with a team that’s smart enough to know where that balance is — and it has nothing to do with whether or not to wear shoes.”

Sonia Nagar, CEO/co-founder of Pickie in New York, N.Y.:

“We’re a tech start-up, so we have no dress code. That said, we’re focused on social commerce, and we have a popular fashion category, so we are inundated with fashion content every day. It rubs off on the team!

We just launched an instagram account where we feature our favorite team outfits each day. Interestingly this has created positive peer pressure on our team to dress fairly well — even among the engineers. We can all see how many ‘likes’ a posted outfit gets, and everyone wants to have the most ‘liked’ outfit. (We’re all type-A, slightly competitive.)

I don’t believe in a dress code. I think people should wear whatever they are most comfortable in (that’s how they will be most productive). If that’s jeans and a t-shirt, cool. If you like to dress up, also cool.”

Zach Cutler, CEO/founder of Cutler Group in New York, N.Y.:

“I am a firm believer in letting employees have full freedom over their attire, within reason (no bathrobes on the job). Mandating stuffy suits, blouses or skirts is simply non-conducive to the creative and flexible atmosphere my tech PR agency tries to create – which is why we have an anti-dress code policy.

Further, because much of our staff works from home on a daily basis, instituting attire restrictions make no sense whatsoever for us.

Even if we all worked from a central office, though, I would make sure our culture encouraged employees to wear what they want when they want and how they want. Clothing is a major outlet for individuality and expression, and in creative professions, what could any agency executive wish for more than expressive, creative and inspired employees?”

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of promising young entrepreneurs.

Follow the YEC and On Small Business on Twitter.

By  |  10:20 AM ET, 05/16/2013

Tags:  small business, entrepreneurs

 
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