Hollywood Entrepreneur Style feat. Jelani Johnson

July 23rd, 2014

Jelani Johnson is an Ivy Leaguer, a world traveler, and an entrepreneur carving out his own space in Hollywood. 

Although we crossed paths at Columbia University, we didn’t spend much time together on campus. He was wrapped up with classes and councils, and I with basketball and the discovery of fashion in NYC. When I moved to Los Angeles in September I knew very few people here, so I reached out to Jelani. We quickly re-connected as he brought me into his social circle and showed me around town. Since then he’s become a close friend and has had a strong impact on me personally and professionally. His keys to success: constant learning, genuine relationship building, and a worldly charm that makes people want to be around him. 

The Cincinnati Ohio native has style, too. Not just in the way he dresses (which is always sharp and approachable) but also in the way he carries himself and interacts with people. 

“As a kid I was blessed to have parents who exposed me to the world. Travel was a big part of our family experience and at an early age my passport was full of stamps… When I was 15 I moved to Mexico City, Mexico and spent my last 3 years of High School living and studying abroad. After High School I moved to New York City to attend Columbia University where I double-majored in History and Anthropology. During my Junior year of college I studied abroad in Brazil (in the cities of Salvador and Sao Paulo). I was there for the greater part of a year; living beach side while studying Black Anthropology and South American History at a Brazilian university.”

All that studying abroad taught Jelani to be independent and gave him the confidence to carve out his own path. 

“After college I was on the finance/consulting track when by chance I met an agent at an event in Manhattan who opened my eyes to the possibility of working in Film & Entertainment. So I picked up and moved out West… My first job in Hollywood was working at the Creative Artists Agency (CAA). After a brief time there I transitioned to an industry-leading management and digital content company. I spent three years there before recently leaving and partnering with another manager to start our own management & production company. 

I’ve never been happier. I’ve always been an entrepreneur at heart. In many ways I look at my time spent at larger entertainment companies as a sort of “Professional Graduate School“. Everything I’ve done was in preparation of this moment.” 

We caught up with Jelani at his partner’s swanky home/office in Hollywood to share with you a sliver of his lifestyle. For the shoot I styled him in one of our favorite garments for the “Young Creative Entrepreneur”; an unstructured cotton suit that can be dressed up or down.  

    1. New Age T-Shirt & Jeans

    Jelani (1 of 14)

    The unstructured suit is cut from a very lightweight denim, which is an ideal tailored fabric for those who want to look sharp and professional but not overly traditional or corporate. Jelani is a creative professional with plenty of swagger, after all.

    “I think style should be inspired by experience. Think about what makes you special or unique and imbue your style with that energy. Many of my clothing choices are inspired by places I’ve been, people I’ve touched, or experiences I’ve had.

    I’m also somewhat of a hoarder when it comes to clothes. I’ll often go a few years without wearing a piece and then stumble across it and re-introduce it to my wardrobe. I’m a strong advocate of timeless quality over temporary quantity; as a result the pieces I acquire tend to be appropriate and tasteful regardless of current trends.”

    Jelani (3 of 14)

    “I’ve been the same shoe size since I was 14 years old. I was a big sneakerhead growing up and I never took the leap to sell all of my old shoes. Every once in awhile I’ll put on an outfit and get inspired to dig deep into my closet to grab that perfect sneaker match. This was one of those occasions.

    This timepiece was gifted to me by a fantastic LA based watch company named Rapp Black. Shoutout to Ricardo and the whole Rapp Black team.”

    Jelani (2 of 14)  Jelani (4 of 14)

    “The World Cup is my favorite event in all of sports. This summer’s tournament inspired to me to start wearing soccer jerseys again. The French national jersey is by far my favorite kit. I love the Henley neckline and the minimalist simplicity. I can pair this piece with blazers, cardigans, jean jackets or whatever else when I’m pressed for time. People almost never realize that it’s a sports jersey. ”

    Jelani (6 of 14) Jelani (7 of 14)

    2. West Coast Dandy

    Jelani (8 of 14)

    “Unfortunately, Hollywood is not a meritocracy so being aesthetically pleasing to others makes it that much easier to get business done. I’ll never forget being out at dinner early in my career with a senior level agent who said to to me: ‘Listen, I like the way you put yourself together, I want to do business with you’.

    Whether we acknowledge it or not – that sentiment holds true across the business world in general… When someone is sharply and thoughtfully put-together it makes them more palatable and accessible to the rest of the world.”

    Jelani (9 of 14)

    “This might be my favorite tie. I purchased it years ago at a sample sale in New York and it’s easily one of my versatile pieces of neckwear.

    The briefcase comes from an outdoor market in Rio de Janeiro. Until recently this bag was my everyday go-to piece. It’s the perfect size to hold my laptop, a book or two, and any other incidentals I need on a daily basis. I don’t know what sort of magic went into making this bag but it’s incredibly durable. I have a special place in my heat for fine leather.”

    Jelani (10 of 14)

    “The mismatched striped socks were a gift from a client of mine – shout out to Chris Candy!”

    Jelani (11 of 14)

    3. All Denim Everything

    Jelani (12 of 14)

    Denim is traditionally associated with casual clothing, but it doesn’t have to be. Using it in a tailored setting instantly makes for an eye-catching and innovative look. Here Jelani is going denim on denim on denim (suit, shirt, tie) with subtle differences in saturation and texture to create a tasteful contrast.

    “Ultimately, I wear what makes me feel good because in my business confidence is everything.

    This leather duffel is my go-to travel bag. I hate checking luggage and this bag is the perfect size for a quick business trip or weekend getaway, carry-on only.”

    Jelani (13 of 14)

    “These white leather Chuck Taylor’s are my favorite sneakers. I love these shoes so much that I’ve purchased 3 pairs in the last year. Like Dan, I appreciate them when they’re worn-in, but I like them most when they’re brand new. I like how the clean white leather looks juxtaposed against jeans and sharp trousers. Also, the fact that they’re low tops allows me get creative with my sock game and have a little fun with color.”

    Jelani (14 of 14)

    Thanks for reading, and special thanks to Jelani for participating!

    Yours in style,

    Articles of Style


    Photography by Alex Crawford.

    • jaykaysway

      I personally love the new direction of the blog.

      Yes, these are suits that have been used in previous posts. But, if anything, I think that the fact that they work on multiple models highlights the versatility of the garments, not to mention Dan’s versatility as a stylist.

      Keep up the great work, Dan and Co!

    • Mr.Bowtie

      No grown man should wear WARBY PARKER GLASSES! Extremely low quality eyewear! Other wise very cool post!

    • John B

      I’m not quite sure about people borrowing from the TSB closet. Unless someone is exactly the same build with Dan and wear his clothes the same way, the result will look a bit off. I’d prefer to see how the featured guy wants his clothes to fit, since fit plays a major role in one’s style. Anyway, even with Dan’s suit, Jelani looks awesome. I was impressed with France’s jersey being a henley, but wearing under a suit blew my mind. Well done!

    • James Wong

      Look 1 smashes everything up – love it.

    • Dave Coakley

      Congrats. Awesome style.

    • JoeFromTexas

      I’m still feeling out the new direction. Got to admit I was a bit bothered by the anonymous model styled in the monochromatic editorial. Not that I was bothered by him or the use of models, but the anonymity of it. This feature was another (also the prior one on summer brown) where it appears Dan styled a model to make an editorial point. I like this better in that the model is not anonymous and we learned something about him, although the bio part made it appear that the editorial was presenting his point of view of style.

      My two cents, since you asked for feedback, styling people form the TSB closet can be problematic since the fit will be off (the sleeves here and in other posts, the way too big stetson in the summer brown feature, to name a few), which may muddy the point you’re trying to make.

      Also, the intro should be a bit more straightforward with what you’re trying to do, as in, “Meet cool person Y that does X well. Here’s an idea that I think is relevant. He’s gonna help me illustrate it while adding details from his interests and life”.

      One more thing, stop feeding the trolls.

      • http://alreadyinvoiced.tumblr.com/ Adrian B

        Smart point. Weren’t these suits bespoke for you Dan?

    • cuponoodles

      Look #3 is a Hall-of-Fame look. 99% of those hybrid dressed up/down looks don’t really hit it (including many featured on this site) in that they’d ultimately look better completely going one way or the other, but this totally works. Ballsy to do denim 3 ways, tambien. Props.

      • Jelani Johnson

        Much love Stan

    • Tat

      Really longing for the days when this site had less of a macho, corporate America vibe. Oh well.

      • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

        Hmmm… You got “macho corporate america” from this piece? I don’t get it.

    • cam

      I’m co-signing the move to some editorial posts if it matters. I like this idea and as a consultant, it will definetly highlight Dan’s skills. Some are saying why not just have Dan wear the clothes and I think he mentioned once that he was getting sick of seeing himself all over the website. Your readers should understand and respect that. Looking forward to more of these.

      • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

        Thanks Cam. You guys already know my story, I’d rather share the stories of all the interesting people we have the privilege of spending time with… I think you’ll love what we’re working on!

    • Kaboom

      Went to Europe in May and those white converses are everywhere!!

      • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier


    • Robert

      To maintain authenticity of the subject, why not have him style himself, and with his own garments? I would understand better if this were a makeover editorial. Albeit, looks #2 and #3 hit the mark, while the dunks in the first look, ruin it for me personally.

    • Shawn

      Sometimes I get a positive vibe out of clothes and styling that I wouldn’t normally favor, which is exactly what I get with this feature. While I wouldn’t wear those looks myself, I like the casual smoothness he projects. And it’s true, I would’ve never guessed he’s wearing a soccer jersey in look 1.

      • Shawn

        Though it might be the wrinkles, I find the sleeve a tad (erm, no, a lot) short in the last look. But I understand the jacket wasn’t made for him..

        • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

          Sleeves are probably a half inch short. Surprised it took 15 comments before someone mentioned it! Good eye.

      • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

        “Casual Smoothness” in a article highlighting a bespoke suit. Love it!

        • Shawn

          Bespoke or not, a suit worn with sneakers, a soccer jersey, sleeves rolled up and (probably) sockless IS casual in my book. I didn’t mean it in a bad way! :)

    • Sergio Arteaga

      Although I enjoy the post and thought the outfits were well put together, as it has been mentioned I can’t get over the fact that they are TSB’s/Dan’s clothes. It makes it hard to know if this is the guest’s style or if the guest was styled. Input cool, I mean we all use TSB for that.

      I don’t know maybe it’s just me but I like seeing how people wear their own clothes and how they put things together, even in cases that we all may not be a fan of.

      • Jelani Johnson

        Thanks for the feedback Sergio. The only “Style” contribution Dan made here was the use of the suit (as this post was partially intended to highlight the versatility of an unstructured cotton suit in the summer) and the yellow waistcoast. For the most part all of the stylistic choices and additional pieces (i.e. shirts, shoes, socks, ties, bags, accessories, etc) were pulled from my own personal collection.

        As Dan stated the site is experimenting with a more editorial content so this post is an example of that experimentation. Look out for a future post where all of the looks are pulled from my own clothing & accessories.

        • Nicholas

          I liked the post. I didn’t care about the use of Dan’s suit. With your items added, and your confidence, you owned all three looks. If Dan hadn’t made the suit disclaimer I would have assumed it was all you.

    • Miguel

      I liked this post but it’s interesting to know that some of the guys are wearing the TSB clothes.

      Nice post though, thanks.

    • Sean

      First look is perfect for him. Sharp but laid back. I’ve been struggling for awhile now wondering how to dress down a suit to the point where people don’t even notice that you’re wearing one, and I think I found it with Look 1.

    • Steve Brule

      I keep seeing this “Angel Bespoke” on this blog. Seems like hipster pseudo tailor who says the words “Pitti” and “Sprezz” in every instagram post

      • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

        Hi Steve. Angel is a close friend and one of the best clothiers in the menswear game right now. Cheers.

        • Dr. Stan Bringus

          Toeachizown. I personally think his brand vibe is something of a parody

          • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

            How do you mean?

        • Chris H

          Dan’s comment is right on. I was introduced to Angel through this site and have been a happy client of his ever since.

          • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier


            Thanks Chris.

        • http://Keyboardandcompass.com/ Jeff McAllister

          Not to mention that Angel’s held two of the strongest profiles on here to date. Dude can’t just makes clothes, he can dress. This could become the Angel Bespoke blog and I’d keep coming back.

        • Craig Rolle

          @ Steve If you read some of the style blogger’s previous pieces you will see some of Angel Bespoke’s work.

          Disclosure: I am a client of his too. He is awesome. Dan is right–he is one of the best clothiers in the menswear game. Probably
          him and Manolo Costa are the top ones in my opinion right now.

      • Josh

        To quote the great Russell Westbrook, “yall ni**a’s trippin’.”

        Angel Ramos is one of the best in the game right now, truly bridging the style gap between modern America and traditional Italy (Naples to be specific). As for the “Pitti” and “Sprezz” thing, he DID attend Pitti Uomo 86 this year in Florence where, from all the pictures I’ve seen of him from the event, he totally killed it. So, I believe he has the right to use the word “Pitti.” And “Sprezz” is simply a current way of referring to the word Sprezzatura – a term coined by Baldassare Castiglione long, long before you were born. Granted, the whole #Sprezzatura thing has gone a little overboard on Instagram and other forms of social media, but you can’t blame the guy for staying current – especially considering the fact that menswear is HIS JOB.

        • Dorris Pringle-Brule

          To quote Gianni Agnelli ,”Good history lezzon bru”

      • Juan

        Agreed. Don’t read his Instagram or Twitter feed. Good thing you don’t have to be smart to dress well….

    • http://alreadyinvoiced.tumblr.com/ Adrian B

      Why is it that all of these recent posts are guys wearing Dan’s clothes? Anyone can dress someone else. Isn’t the point of these features to showcase the individual’s true style?

      • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

        They’re not my clothes, they’re TSBmen’s clothes, used for our editorial shoots. In this case I wanted to highlight both Jelani, but also the versatility of the suit in question. This is more of an experiment for us, as we gradually transition our content production.

        • Ali Naaseh

          If you’re moving towards a style where you use the TSB closet and “control the fashion displayed,” why not just have Dan be the one in the shoots? We know and like you (a lot of us come here just to see YOUR looks) and it eliminates the fakeness of an editorial style where you aren’t showing people’s complete looks.

        • Nicholas

          I like the new direction. I enjoy your posts more when there’s a relationship that you share at the beginning. Without the suit disclaimer, I would have assumed it was Jelani’s. Jelani seems confident enough that he owned all three looks; and I think it highlighted your ability as a stylist.

          It seems like a win-win to me as a reader. If I’m thoughtful, I get another piece that displays the importance of having your wardrobe match your style. You get to showcase your ability as a stylist.

          I really don’t understand why other people are unhappy with the move. It’s not as if you were dishonest.

    • JBells

      great post with 3 very distinct looks but may I ask why Jelani is wearing Dan’s suit? Was it Dan or Jelani who put together these looks?

      • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

        It was a collaborative effort.

    • khordkutta

      Well played gentlemen, well played. Really dig the style here.

      • http://www.TSBmen.com/ Dan Trepanier

        Thanks player.