Re-Imagineer #1: Jeffrey Banks, Designer, Author

1. You have been a very successful mens and womenswear designer, yet you decided to become an author in your late 40’s. What was your breakthrough moment that led you to actually take the first step and start working on your first book, Tartan: Romancing The Plaid, which has now led to a total of 5 books that you have written and published?

I wrote TARTAN, never having written a book before, because it was the book I wanted to read about tartan that I could never find! All the existing books about tartan were basically all the same, how to find your family’s tartan and/or clan. I wanted a much deeper dive into why people all over the world, including me, were obsessed with tartan plaid, and where tartan had come from. I spoke at length with psychologists, architects, composers and theologians, as well as historians. The book is 288 pages long and took five years to get published.

2. In your 50’s, you added a new layer to your status as “Reimagineer” by developing a line of plaid inspired products for HSN, and in turn, becoming a television personality. What was the biggest lesson you learned in moving into that new territory?

The biggest lesson I learned in moving into that new area was to think more broadly about reaching a much bigger audience, much more quickly. There was absolutely no dumbing down in terms of quality or design, but a shift towards the emphasis on creating a product that suits more people. The other great lesson I learned is that the TV camera is like a giant magnifying glass. You cannot lie, you must tell the truth. The customer and viewer can see right through you if you are not 100 percent honest about your product.

3. Now that you have honed the skill of reinvention, what might be next for you? Any tips on how
you will get there?

The most important thing is to have a strong unabiding passion for what you do, whatever it is. During the pandemic, I really started to indulge in my passion for cooking. I have always been a foodie, but I have never cooked as much as I have these last two years! Who knows, there might even be a cookbook in my future!

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Meet the Author

Michael Clinton is a best-selling author, new longevity expert, thought leader, and keynote speaker on the changing face of what it means to live longer. He is also a writer-at-large for Esquire, and regular columnist for Men’s Health. A former president and publishing director of Hearst Magazines, he now serves as the special media advisor to the Hearst Corporation’s CEO.

He is also a photographer, has traveled through 124 countries, has run marathons on 7 continents, has started a nonprofit foundation, is a private pilot, is a part owner of a vineyard in Argentina, holds two master’s degrees, and still has a long list of life experiences that he plans to tackle.