This is an as-told-to essay based on an interview with Brandon Snower.
Snower is the 26-year-old founder of Le Alfré, a menswear line. He started his fashion brand — which has done $230,000 in sales since launching in March 2022, documents show — after quitting his job as an investment banker in New York City.
Six months into working on Wall Street, I knew it wasn’t for me
Putting on a pair of nice loafers, taking the train to work in New York, and looking like a banker — that’s cool. That’s what a lot of people, including me, signed up for.
When I started my first full-time job, in investment banking, I immersed myself in the industry. I thought, “This is my career; I’m so excited. I’m going to do this for the rest of my life.”
But even with the cachet, there were parts of the job that I quickly realized I didn’t like.
For instance, I’d start some days at 6 a.m. to study for tests I needed to pass before I could work with clients — like the series 79, 63, and SIE. Then I’d spend the rest of the day, often going until midnight, working with other analysts on projects we were assigned.
There’s such high expectations when you’re dealing with billion-dollar companies, and it’s extremely demanding.
Six months into my job, I was waking up dreading work every day. It wasn’t one moment that made me hate it. It was a progression and buildup of constantly telling myself, “I don’t want to do this. I hate waking up and going to work.”
I decided no amount of money could make me work 12-plus hours a day hating my job.
I left banking without a plan, and ended up finding a passion
Two years after I started at the bank, I quit my job without a backup plan. That was at the start of 2021. The good thing about working in finance — or bad, depending on how you look at it — is you work so much that you don’t really have time to go out and spend money. So I had money saved.
I wanted to go into branding and marketing because I was always creative. But when I started interviewing at other companies, many didn’t take me seriously as a creative because I had only finance experience. So I couldn’t land any jobs.
One day, I had an idea for a button-up shirt with a contrast collar. I looked at all kinds of European brands, Japanese brands, and it didn’t exist.
I couldn’t find a brand, in general, that actually resonated with me. I wanted something cool, fun, sophisticated, and classy that spoke to someone my age and that was high quality.
That was the light-bulb moment: I’ve always had somewhat of an aesthetic. I love branding, and I would love to build a company. So I invested some of the money I’d saved to create Le Alfré, which launched to the public in March 2022.
For the first six months of building it, I worked from 5 a.m. to midnight almost every day. I barely left my house because I had to learn everything and there was so much to do.
For instance, I created the logo and branding, found mills and manufacturers in Europe to produce our products, and launched a website.
Working in banking taught me to work really hard even when I didn’t like what I was doing. So when I started my company, working really hard on projects I was passionate about was easy.
Others see themselves in my story
I was influenced by my classmates when it came to picking my career. Finance was what many of my peers were doing, and I saw it as a combination of a highly sought-after industry and a challenging work environment.
But after leaving, I realized a lot of people connect with my story, too.
@bsnower Say in the life as a founder, CEO of a men’s fashion brand in New York City. #dayinmylife #mensfashion #entrepreneur #startup #nyc #nycsmallbusiness #dayinmylifenyc #dayinthelifeofasmallbusinessowner ♬ The everyday life – nightwalker
People could see themselves in my social media content about leaving banking and creating a brand because so many of them also dream about leaving their professions to start something they’re passionate about.
Le Alfré has allowed me to create a community of these people. Thousands of followers and customers can feel a sense of belonging with the brand and my story. It’s motivating to say, “I’m doing this for them. I’m creating it for them.”