Millennial on a Mission: John Phillips

Happy Monday!

Today’s “Millennial on a Mission” is one that I not only admire professionally, but personally as well. I’ve known him for a very long time, and we recently discovered that we’re in the same career field. Not only is he a menswear enthusiast with a love for all types of music, but he’s a devoted husband and father of two little girls.

He also recently launched A Curated Style, which aims to help young men that want to improve their personal style (fellas, you can sign up for their newsletter here — you’re welcome.) As you know, I always find it incredibly cool when millennials can take their unique skill sets and create a

Meet John Phillips.


Born and raised in Evanston, Illinois, John  attended Michigan State University, where he studied professional writing. For most of his career, he has been a web designer and developer, but recently transitioned to a being a digital strategist, which is his current role. “In nutshell, I define the strategy in how my clients use technology in training events for new vehicle launches,” John says.

CC: Congrats on the launch of A Curated Style! What inspired you to start this website, and how has the response been from your target audience? Who are some of your inspirations in fashion, and what publications do you read often to spark ideas for your content?

JP: Thank you! The idea came from a lot of previous thoughts and conversations that Marvin (the other co-founder) and I had. We noticed a lot of our friends, who wanted to improve their style, would always ask us style questions. So we wanted to share our views on style. Our original vision was a blog, but our hearts never seemed fully invested in that approach. Then a different idea jumped into my head after talking with more colleagues, and within a few days the project was live.

The biggest publication I read is GQ. The writing is great, and there are always good style ideas to be gained from there. I also follow quite a few Tumblr sites that are just pictures. There’s also a ton of ideas to be gained from the Men’s Fashion section on Pinterest, a lot of which we post inspiration pieces from in our newsletter.


CC: How would you like to see A Curated Style grow and evolve? Did you encounter any challenges prior to launching the website? As a web designer and digital strategist, what are some of your favorite tools to use? 

JP: Of course we want to gain as many readers as possible for those that are looking to enhance their style. But one might say that when someone no longer feels that they need to get our newsletter because of their own style confidence, that would be a win. Now there’s always things to learn about style because it’s always changing, so hopefully people wouldn’t unsubscribe even when they do feel confident about their style.

But in terms of the actual service of A Curated Style, we have a lot of ideas being thrown around but we’d like more reader interaction at some point. And we’d like to have people send us their style stories and progressions. We’d also like to create more long form content on our actual website that we can refer readers to in our newsletter. Those would be the big thoughts long term. Then who knows, maybe we turn this into a stylist service that we provide. Time will tell.

The only challenge faced getting started was how we wanted to structure these newsletters and the writing angle we wanted to take. In terms of my tools, I use Writer Pro a lot because I’m always writing and it helps me focus. I also use Basecamp a lot to manage projects, especially A Curated Style. For design work I’m in Photoshop for the visuals and Sublime Text for coding. And for sending out our newsletters, we use MailChimp.

CC: At what moment in your adulthood did you notice that your personal style begin to change? What advice would you have for young men that are in the midst of transitioning their style, and what are do’s and don’ts in adequately achieving  A Curated Style?

JP: For me it was shortly after I graduated that started taking my style a little more seriously. I realized that people respond very differently to you when you’re dressed well and have properly fitting clothes. There’s a level of trust you convey when you can visually show that you’re put together. But aside from how other people viewed me, it felt good myself just to dress better.

For young men looking to improve their style, start with paying attention to others that dress well. Could be friends, co-workers, or even magazines. You learn a lot just by paying attention. Also know that a style transition doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a long term game. You will spend the rest of your life evolving your style. So just take small steps to getting there.

The list of both do’s and don’ts is pretty long. The biggest do would be getting the fit right. Learn how clothes should properly fit your body. Also, learn what the basics are to a good wardrobe. We wrote a Part 1 about this and plan on continuing that for our readers. For don’ts, we also just covered that in our latest newsletter. the most important item there, aside from fit, would be not to wear wrinkled clothes. I wish this was a no-brainer, but we see this time and time again. Dress like an adult and iron your clothes!

To John, being a “Millennial on a Mission” means that we don’t want to be stuck in some brainless job collecting a paycheck for the rest of our lives. We want to carve our own path and do things that we’re passionate about. “The way I achieve my dreams is by starting small,” John says. “Have a big picture idea, but craft small goals that you can accomplish. All of those small goals that get completed add up to the big goal.” Just like style, John says that our dreams are a long term goal — something we build up and seek over time and rarely happening overnight.

His one piece of advice for young aspiring entrepreneurs? Start something on the side of either school or a full time job. (Side hustles, people!) “When you start something on the side, you don’t risk your normal paycheck, and you get a really good idea of how bad you really want something,” he says. “And all the while doing that, you’re gaining experience with your full time job.” John believes that when you start to see that it’s taking up too much of your time and can be lucrative, then you make a decision on that vs. your full time job. Also, he advises his fellow millennials to build up as big of a genuine network as much as possible. “It will pay off tremendously down the road, whether you start your own business or not. I can’t stress that enough.”

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