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High School Project turns into real Business

High School Project turns into real Business.Name of your company and URL?

Southern Ties

Date started?

Winter 2011

What is your product or service?

Our main product is high quality cotton bow ties but we also have a few different shirts and will be doing ties as well in the spring.

Why did you start your company?

It started as a senior research project where I was planning on just writing a business plan. Then halfway through the project I started talking to my friend Sam about it and we started thinking and planning how, after my project was complete, we could turn it into an actual company. A few weeks later Michael Wood came on boar

How was it financed ?

Originally out of our own pockets. We both had part time jobs and we used the money to purchase materials. We hand sewed all of our bow ties until we could afford to have someone else help us out with it.

Do you use Social Media tools like Facebook, twitter, LinkedIn or ? Provide exact URL of each

I can’t imagine starting this company without social media. It’s allowed us to grow a respectable following and awareness, as well as drive a fair amount of traffic to our website.

Our kickstarter video:

How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)?
4 people

Michael Wood – President
James Adams – Co-Founder
Sam Thomas – Co-Founder
Jill Sheets – Director of Marketing and Sales

What is the best advice you never got?

It’s alright to start out with a big idea… you just have to start out on a much smaller scale so that you can grow up from that point.

What almost killed your business in the start?

Apprehension and unwillingness to take risks. I’m glad Sam was on board because I really didn’t want to commit the time and take risks to grow the business where as he was. With him, we’ve put together a great little team and plan on doing big things.

What is the one thing that you did right?

Our current President Michael Wood, we both knew him through an organization, Young Life. He’s 24 and has already run 3 successful startups, he was looking at purchasing ownership in a bowtie company based out of California at the same time we were starting to get a bit more serious about our company. We offered him a percentage of the company to help run it and take it to the next level. He hopped on it and it was one of the best decisions we’ve made so far.

What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

Neither Sam or I knew how to sew and we didn’t know anything about bow ties other than we really liked them and we knew how to buy them. Building relationships with retailers, sewing, manufacturers, suppliers, and advertising to list a few were all things we knew very little about.

Are you currently in the black or red?

High School Project turns into real BusinessBlack. We’ve been fortunate to be in the black from pretty much day one. We’ve not been able to keep a single bow tie in inventory, so we’ve been taking that money and reinvesting it into expansion. Michael has already made it clear, that no one gets paid anything until the company breaks 125k. And then the first person will be our sales director who is on commission only right now.

What type of marketing or advertising do you do?

As I said above, without social media… We wouldn’t have a company. We are looking into advertising on other websites in the immediate future.

What would make your business more “Successful”?

We’ve had a few people contact us about investing in our company. We’ve been weighing the pros and cons to decide whether or not giving away part of our company now would be better in the short term or long term. If we dumped all of the investment into advertising, I’m sure we’d see good growth but again, in the long run, could we have done it without the investment?

Would you want to be acquired by a bigger company, run it yourself or sell in a couple of years?

Right now, we really enjoy running the company ourselves. We’re just happy to continue growing and see where the future takes us. Unlike some, our company wasn’t started with the intentions of being bought out.

What do you think your projected annual revenue will be?

We’re hoping to break $100,000 by the end of next spring. After that, we have some numbers on our competitors and we’d like to keep the same growth they’ve had. It’s a fun and interesting market but more importantly, its just something we’re passionate about.

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