Centerville resident Yasha Jackson-Reeves designs and makes bow ties that she sells online through her company The Distinguished Beau.
Occupation: Owner, The Distinguished Beau
Q: How did you become a creator-manufacturer of bow ties and an online entrepreneur?
A: About four years ago, back when my husband worked at Geico, they had a special day at work and he said, “I wear ties all the time, I want something different — I want to wear a bow tie. Can you make one?” I figured out how and that day six people wanted to buy one. I also had a photographer friend who wanted a couple for a shoot. That’s how it started.
Q: How many do you think you’ve sold now?
A: Oh my! I sell on different platforms online but mainly etsy.com. On Etsy I’ve had well over 1,000 sales, but those sales are often for a bunch of bow ties. That’s at www.etsy.com/shop/TheDistinguishedBeau.
Q: You have multiple sales, how about repeat sales?
A: I have people who buy every week and some who buy a lot. Sometimes just for themselves, sometimes for weddings or teams or whatever. I try to have a new bow tie, a new print or something, every week. Some people keep an eye out for them. We have a The Distinguished Beau community online, too, with a lot of our regular customers. They keep up with our products and each other and wish each other happy birthday and all. It’s great.
Q: That’s your same name on all the sites?
A: It is. You can Google The Distinguished Beau and see us all over the place: Etsy, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. All over.
Q: Do you have other products?
A: I have pocket squares, lapel pens and men’s bracelets as well, but bow ties are the thing. Children’s, too.
Q: This is full time?
A: It has been for the last year-and-a-half. I was a paraprofessional in the school system then saw this was helping the family financial situation a lot more than my school check so I went full time. I miss my babies at the school, though, and still go see them. It’s just I get more time to put in the business and a lot more opportunity to be with my own kids.
Q: Have you been sewing all your life?
A: No, I wish I had. I just went online to figure out how to make that first one and did it. But I didn’t figure it out exactly right and did it a little differently.
Q: Do you make self-tie and pre-tied clip bow ties?
A: Yes, but I do something a little different I call Freestyle. It’s a self-tie bow tie but instead of being a solid string it is two strings that hook in the back. It hooks two strings — two sides — that make one you tie together like a normal bow tie. But I send them out pre-tied and a lot of people like that and keep them tied. It comes tied but you can leave it or tie it yourself your way. A lot of people only like the look of a self-tied bow tie versus a pre-tied. Even though Freestyles are made this way, they’re still adjustable plus we have a lot of neck sizes which is another plus. A lot of athletes like our bow ties.
And another unique thing about my Freestyles is that because they’re made this way you can take one side — or one string or one sleeve as I call them, they come in sleeves — and you can switch it with another one from another bow tie. They’re interchangeable. You can match up one color with another color from another tie or one print with another print. Or a solid with a pattern. You get close to endless variety along with the hundreds of designs we have up online.
Q: Did you come up with all that?
A: I did. I haven’t seen anything like it.
Q: How did you figure that out?
A: Happy occurrence, really. When I made that first tie I couldn’t quite make it like they said so I did this and it proved to be a great idea. And helpful. There’s a gentleman I sell to who wore bow ties all his life but now has arthritis and can’t tie them. He hates the look of normal pre-tied ties but loves ours because they’re self-tied but he can keep them tied.
Q: All this makes you sort of a bespoke bow tie clothier, right?
A: I guess so. Even more because I say we have D.I.Y (Design It Yourself) Custom Bow Ties. We started test printing our own poly-satin-cotton fabric designs last year and perfected them and started producing them the first of this year. They work great, last and we can do all kinds of designs and custom designs. We’ve always done custom work but this takes it to a new level. Early on we did ties for Warner Robins High School’s basketball team of school colors with the Rocking R. My husband, Damon, is a graphic designer so that helps.
Q: You’ve probably done logos and lots of custom orders. Do you sell other than online?
A: When we started we did craft fairs locally but now it’s online plus boutiques we sell at in Philadelphia, Connecticut, Miami and one we’re negotiating with in Atlanta. Some people call us locally for them.
Q: You live in Centerville, are you from here?
A: I grew up in Warner Robins and graduated from Northside High School Class of 1998. We’re coming up on 20 years.
Q: Being online, you can sell all over, right?
A: We’ve gotten orders from Paris! I’m like, what? Paris is the fashion capital of the world and you’re ordering bow ties from me in Georgia? I can think of orders from Australia, Mexico, Japan — all over. I’ve got to get a map and pin where we’ve shipped. We’ve sold to celebrities but I don’t know who. We got a call from someone’s stylist but they said they couldn’t disclose who it was for.
Q: Of all the ties, is there a favorite? A top seller?
A: We make-to-order 30 to 40 a week so there’s a lot to choose from, but definitely the Nomad which has a world map. And definitely a burgundy velveteen one inspired by the “Dr. Who” TV show. Definitely those two.
Answers may have been edited for length and clarity. Compiled by Michael W. Pannell. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.