A Family Business Dedicated to Empowering Short Men Towers Over Competitors A Beverly Hills tailor shop has carved a lucrative niche making every customer feel like a man of stature.

By Daphne Mallory

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Jimmy Au's | Facebook

Jimmy Au's for Men 5'8" and Under in Beverly Hills, Calif., is a family business that has served a niche in men's wear for over 50 years. Jimmy Au and his son, Alan, run the business together. I had a great conversation with Alan about his family business, and was surprised to learn that behind the business was a worthy cause.

Jimmy Au grew up in a dirt village in China. His father built a mercantile business, and Jimmy learned from his parents how to build a family business. When Jimmy came to the United States with a student visa, he worked two jobs in college. He sent most of his earnings back to help his family and only kept what he needed to get by. Alan shared this about his dad, "He started looking into doing clothing and made more money doing custom clothing than his other two jobs."

Related: Are Immigrant Business Owners Driving U.S. Growth? (Infographic)

Jimmy has nine siblings and his family business paid for all of them to come to the United States and to go to school.

Jimmy worked with his wife until she eventually transitioned home to become a stay-at-home mom. Alan is Jimmy's first born and was exposed to the growth of business more than his siblings. "I don't think I was shown any other way. I grew up in the business. I was literally in the playpen in the tailor shop," recalls Alan. When he was a tween he did odd jobs , such as helping with customers and inventory. He started doing sales by the time he was 15. His other siblings are not interested in the business.

The menswear industry is competitive, but Jimmy and Alan have a unique following because they are the only short men's clothing store in the USA. That's not their only competitive advantage. Alan says, "As a family business, we are more service oriented. We pay more attention to details." He explained that great service allows them to remain competitive year round. They don't have to wait to get "in the black'' during the holiday rush.

Related: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly of Family Business

I wanted to know about Alan's passion for his family business. He explained, "It's difficult for shorter men to get jobs, and when it doesn't fit right, people judge you. It's important for people to look at a shorter man as a person and not as a boy. I want perceptions about their height to go from negative to a non-issue."

His menswear line does just that. He believes that employers do not take notice of the height issue when his customers are dressed proportionately. This, in turn, helps to increase their chances of success.

Jimmy and Alan Au also design attire to help short men be confident and succeed in their social lives. Alan knows first-hand the difference clothes can make when making an impression. Alan's wife is much taller than he and he attributes some of his dating success to attire that fit just right. He emphasized the need to empower shorter men to make their height a non-issue in all areas, including in their relationships.

Running a family business has its challenges. Alan admits, "There are times when I get frustrated with my parents. When there are family gatherings, sometimes one of us has to stay behind to close up shop so others can go." I wanted to know if he would advice a couple to go into family business. He shared, " I really think it depends on the dynamic of the couple and maybe more importantly, how it will impact their kids if they have any. I think it would be easier if you didn't have kids yet or are empty nesters."

Alan does incorporate his children into his family business. "I have a very highly gifted 11-year-old daughter who can handle what I expect most college students to be able to do. With her knowledge of technology, I can have her work on email cleanup, prepping markdowns, and double-checking SKU numbers. You try to give them work within their abilities so they have small successes to build upon. There are many learning opportunities that can tie into what they are learning in school."

Related: How Six Immigrant Entrepreneurs Transformed Dreams Into Businesses

Daphne Mallory

Daphne Mallory Foundation

Daphne Mallory, Esq. is best known for sharing smart ideas to solve problems. Whether on television, on stage, in the boardroom, or before governments, her speeches and seminars are interactive and rich in content.

Billboard Magazine described Mallory as "Engaging Fans, forging a new path." She appeared on ABC, FOX and NBC and in Entrepreneur Magazine, Essence, Brown Alumni Magazine, Self and more. She hosts a TV show: Family Business with Daphne on KSAW-ABC.

Mallory's training programs include Women & Family Business, Grow Community/ Grow Profits, Grow Community/Grow Memberships, Roadmap to Family Business, and Sales Training for Change Agents.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Editor's Pick

Related Topics


Get a 15-inch MacBook Pro for Less Than $375

Save on this refurbished MacBook Pro for a limited time.

Business Ideas

55 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.

Business Solutions

Stay Organized with This Task Management Tool, on Sale for $30

A Study Planr Pro subscription is just $30 for life.

Thought Leaders

10 Simple, Productive Activities You Can Do When You Aren't Motivated to Work

Quick note: This article is birthed out of the urge to do something productive when I am not in a working mood. It can also inspire you on simple yet productive things to do when you're not motivated to work.

Business News

Here Are 3 Strategies Startup Founders Can Use to Approach High-Impact Disputes

The $7 billion "buy now, pay later" startup Klarna recently faced a public board spat. Here are three strategies to approach conflict within a business.

Data & Recovery

Get 2TB of Cloud Storage with PhotoSphere for Just $280 for a Limited Time

Easily store and access photos, videos, and other files spread across your work devices.