Jody Lentz is a free-agent facilitator with a background in publishing, sales and marketing communications. An alumnus of the University of Tennessee and MBA, this Nashville native’s Tennessee roots run deep, and he’s quick to point out the parallels between the growing regional fashion industry and the city’s other leading industries: music and health care. When he’s not busy helping organizations cultivate, in his words, a “high-performance, low-drama culture with better teams, better meetings and better decisions,” he helps out the NFA by lending his considerable facilitation skills. Read on to learn more about Jody, including what item of clothing he’s worn more than 300 times in the past year …
How did you get involved with the Nashville Fashion Alliance?
Van Tucker and I met a couple of years ago, then I co-facilitated the NFA's formation meetings, and then I joined the Board.
What do you think people should know about our fashion community? Do you think Nashville is poised to be a player in the global fashion industry?
This may sound hyperbolic, but the fashion business in Nashville today has many of the same qualities as the music business in the 1940s and 50s. There is a brilliant and supportive creative community here -- the largest concentration of independent designers outside of New York and Los Angeles – and it is starting to draw an industry around itself. The fashion business here needs the fundamental business visionaries like Chet Atkins, Fred Rose and Harold Bradley, but instead of publishing and studios and sidemen, we need to establish a fashion-production ecosystem of materials, sewing and distribution (and much more).
I'm also fascinated by the applications around a "medical fashion" niche, which would dovetail with our healthcare and entrepreneur ecosystems. From linens and scrubs to wearable tech, smart fabrics, and surgical tubing, there are ground-floor opportunities.
In your opinion, what are the biggest barriers and opportunities that the regional fashion industry faces?
Old mindsets about what the fashion, textile and apparel industries are -- the next wave is all about technology and sustainability. Even with the growing wave of "re-shoring" jobs from overseas, we are not going to reboot all the shuttered textile mills in the south. Also, Nashville has a great entrepreneurial history with services, but not so much with "making stuff.”
How would you describe your personal style?
Prepster -- the odd little place where my preppie history meets my hipster aspiration.
How would you describe Nashville's style?
The same way I describe Nashville's unique flavor of creativity: authentic, collaborative and kin.
When you're not working, what are you doing?
Working in the garden, playing guita, taking in some music with my wife.
What's the one item in your closet you can't live without?
It would have to be my Imogene + Willie Barton slim jeans -- I think I wore them over 300 days in the last year. My Nisolo chukkas aren't far behind ...
PHOTOS BY KELSEY CHERRY