“Don’t just be a boss, be More Than A Boss!” This idea is what two Bentley students have sought to illustrate through their clothing brand, Jefe by Jefe, since 2018. Although the direct translation of the Spanish term “jefe” is boss, it is also a commonly used slang word identifying with co-founders Joshua Elysee, a rising senior, and Leonardo Paul, a recent graduate.
“If someone is a ‘jefe,’ they make anything happen despite the obstacles they face. The difference between a boss and a ‘jefe’ is that a ‘jefe’ doesn’t just give orders: They guide and help people,” expressed Elysee when asked about the significance of their company’s name.
With joint passions for fashion and entrepreneurship, Elysee and Paul built their startup. “We have been friends since high school, so everything was organic,” noted Elysee. The two share a 50/50 partnership, but their roles diverge within the business: Paul oversees operations while Elysee designs. He is self-taught through YouTube and now digitally creates clothes with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.
Jefe by Jefe garnered attention by showcasing exclusive pieces at Bentley University’s Black United Body Fashion Show in 2019. College students began to rep the brand on campus and brought clothes back to their hometowns, which resulted in orders piling up from teens outside of Bentley. What started off as a local Boston business rapidly expanded: Jefe by Jefe caught the eye of rappers like Coi Leray, Millyz and Lil Poopy, who all have adorned some of their pieces.
Jefe by Jefe’s latest collection — Yin-Yang for Jefe++ — houses more luxurious and limited streetwear clothing. Yin-Yang was originally scheduled to drop June 5, but Jefe by Jefe postponed the launch until Juneteenth to augment the #BlackLivesMatter movement. “It is definitely a day to celebrate black businesses and leaders,” Elysee emphasized. In addition to Yin-Yang, Jefe by Jefe also released #BlackLivesMatter tees and donated all income to the cause.
The Yin-Yang collection is beyond just new fashion: “It’s a direct reflection of my relationship with Leo,” Elysee said, “because we are two different people, but we work perfectly together.” Yin-Yang features two shirts and hoodies that reflect their contrasting personalities with light and royal blue hues. The simplicity of the Yin Hoodie represents Paul, while the Yang Hoodie, inspired by the Dior Oblique pattern, depicts Elysee. “I’m more of a flashy dresser whereas Leo is more subtle,” explained Elysee.
This latest collection saw extreme success. Within two days of its release, everything sold out! The website crashed several times due to the influx of online shoppers. Elysee and Paul greatly appreciate the love and loyalty they receive from customers. Fortunately, they will be restocking the Yin-Yang wear in another color variation — sage green — so be on the lookout for that!
Even though Jefe by Jefe is already thriving, Elysee and Paul want to grow their company to the next level. In the later future, they plan on releasing a new collection: a collaboration with another fashion brand, which they are thrilled about. Big things are surely in store for Jefe by Jefe!
words_erika pun photo_josh elysee & bilindoff