He may hail from Jersey, but Jeff Byron is as kind as a Southern gentleman. The new vice president and general manager of Neiman Marcus Downtown left his post as VP/GM of Saks Fifth Avenue in Chicago to man the iconic store in the luxury retail chain.
Byron, who admits to a love of animals and Dallas' accessibility, arrived at the store just before the company went public. Driven by hard work and respect, Byron is bound to shake things up — if not by his business acumen then by his affability.
We chatted with Byron about moving to Texas, how Dallas style compares to Chicago's, and replacing the beloved Shelle Sills.
CultureMap: Did you ever see yourself moving to Texas?
JB: No, but it’s been a nice move. Yes, it’s a brutal time of year, but I do understand that the winters are absolutely incredible.
CM: What has eased your transition to Dallas?
Jeff Byron: It’s the people. One thing I’ve found surprising is that people will say, “Oh you’re from Chicago; you were with Saks.” [They] give me my history before I get to know them. I find that wonderful that [people] take an interest. I was pleased to meet and talk to genuine people in Dallas. Not only professionally but personally.
CM: Favorite neighborhoods thus far?
JB: There are so many interesting neighborhoods that I am exploring. The downtown revitalization is incredible. I am intrigued by the energy in Uptown, the serene aspects of walking along Turtle Creek — so close to the city, yet removed — and the incredible diversity of Kessler Park and Bishop Arts.
The Arts District [is] beyond comparison, [as well as the] architectural integrity in the suburbs that is defined by the decade of development. This is a beautiful city.
CM: Before making the big move to Neiman's, what were you most excited about?
JB: I think it gets down to the culture; I was enamored with the culture of the company. There’s tremendous loyalty with the store and it’s multi-generational to all family members — not just from grandmother to mother and daughter — and that’s just incredible. You just feel it, that [the store is] an iconic institution.
CM: How does Dallas' fashion scene compare to Chicago's?
JB: My observation is that Dallas is not as conservative as Chicago and that the people of Dallas are quite comfortable making a strong statement about their personal style and how it relates to their individual objectives. Fashion, novelty and color are embraced.
CM: What kind of manager are you?
JB: I’m involved, but I’m not a micromanager. I want to work with people that are well-placed, have fun and enjoy the environment I’m in. It’s more of a “I work with you, you don't work for me” mentality.
CM: Did you get the chance to meet the beloved former GM/VP Shelle Sills?
JB: Yes, and my joke is that I’ve got big Louboutins to fill.