DC Moves “Onward” in Men’s Luxury Retail: Meet TJ Callaway, Founder and CEO of Onward Reserve

Written by Jamie, Fashion/Style Editor

June 8, 2015


Early this month, luxury and specialty retailer Onward Reserve opened its newest location in the heart of DC’s bustling shopping destination, Georgetown. Founded in 2012 by former investment banker, TJ Callaway, DC marks the sixth location for Onward Reserve. Current locations are in the U.S. southeastern region and include Atlanta (where based), Charlotte, and Chattanooga.

Onward Reserve features men’s gifts, accessories, and apparel, as well as home goods, and luggage. Designers and international brands include Barbour, Dubarry, Token & Icon, and many others. Just in time for Father’s Day and planning your summer holiday (or golf trip!), check out their curated gift selections by category .

We had the opportunity to learn more about Onward Reserve’s concept, future plans and its goal of “Understated Excellence” from TJ Callaway! Onward Reserve Georgetown opened its doors June 6 and is located at 1063 Wisconsin Avenue NW.

Q: I see that you were an investment banker in his previous "life." How did the transition from banking to creating Onward Reserve come about? What inspired this change?

TJ Callaway: I have always been an entrepreneur at heart and was looking for something to do to get out of I [investment] banking. I wouldn't trade the experience I gained in the finance world but it wasn't for me long term. That said, I never thought I would be in the retail industry growing up - just never crossed my mind. I learned a great deal and met a lot of great people at the bank but I have had immensely more fun building Onward Reserve.  I have never regretted my decision to strike out on my own for a second. Retail is a lot more work for a lot less money initially but Onward Reserve is something meaningful to me.  I am proud of the jobs we have created and the progress we have made.  It's just awesome to be able to build something from nothing and watch it grow.

Q: Describe Onward Reserve's concept a bit. For example, the idea of combining men's gifts and apparel with luxury lifestyle brands?

TJC: The easiest way to describe Onward Reserve is that it is everything I like in one shop. I guess I just rolled the dice that there were other people like me.  I wanted a shop where I could find everything I needed in one place. Nothing too crazy, just high quality merchandise in a fun atmosphere.  Understated excellence is our goal.  It has been fun to keep up with the cool new brands while maintaining relationships with some of the most established lifestyle brands in the world.  The development of our own brand is the most exciting thing we have going.  I have been blown away by the demand for Onward Reserve merchandise and we will continue to aggressively expand our product offerings across categories.

Q: I see that Onward Reserve's locations are currently in the Southern Atlantic region. What attracted you to DC as a sixth location? And the neighborhood of Georgetown specifically?

TJC: Of all the potential locations for our first national flagship store, Georgetown was a perfect fit for our brand.  It has the ambiance of a small town main street but plays host to the best brands in the world.  We are so thrilled and lucky to be here.  We are based in Atlanta so we have grown out from there geographically but we will be reaching further and further out from home base in the coming years.  We already have excited customers from all over the country and are excited to serve them with our brick & mortar store experience just as fast as we can get stores open!

Q: What are some future plans for Onward Reserve, here in DC and nationally? 

TJC: The future is bright for Onward Reserve.  We have a strong brand presence nationally via our catalog and e-commerce business and look forward to rolling out more brick & mortar stores nationally.  It is important for me to create places where our customers can come in and experience the Onward Reserve lifestyle first hand.  Our website and catalog are fantastic ways to get what you need conveniently, but there is no substitute for being in one of our stores.  It is a special retail experience.

Note: Image and materials courtesy of London Misher Public Relations.


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