Knotty Is Nice


Posted Sun, Feb 23, 2014

Tie Story [Photo by Tom Skelly]

MADE IN THE U.S.A.: Combining style and ethical business practices, Knotty Ties are hand-sew and made from organically-grown cotton, fabricated and printed in the U.S. (Left to right Austin Allan and Zach Spencer) [Photo by Tom Skelley]

DENVER — You don’t expect to see nude models having their bodies painted at a party for a necktie company. But Knotty Tie isn’t your average necktie company, and their first anniversary party wasn’t your typical “First Friday.” Located at 841 Santa Fe, Knotty Tie Co. celebrated their first year of business on Feb. 7, with a raucous celebration that incorporated the many eclectic artists they share a space with.

“It’s been a long year of learning and challenges, which we expected, but it’s been great,” said Mark Johnson, one of Knotty’s four “guys who sew.”

The band Poet’s Row played throughout the evening in the Knotty Tie workspace, while all around the building other artists performed or displayed their artwork. Approximately 300 people meandered through the large, drafty building, taking in super hero-themed paintings, spoken-word poetry, woodcuts, terrifyingly realistic baby masks (you read that correctly) and, as I may have mentioned before, body painting.

Knotty Tie began in Jeremy Priest’s living room. He wanted to start a company that would combine style and ethical business practices. The ties that Priest and his partners hand-sew, retailing $45-$50, have always been made from organically-grown cotton, fabricated and printed in the U.S. Local non-profit organizations also partner with Knotty Tie for promotional sales, each time receiving 30 percent of the profits.

After making a pitch to investors on the web via Kickstarter, Priest found out that he wasn’t the only one who thought there was a market for his idea. After receiving $24,000 in start-up loans from 492 separate funders, Priest had the capital he needed to take his vision from his living room to the artists’ workshop in Denver’s Santa Fe Art District.

Tie Story [Photo by Tom Skelly]

FASHION PLUS: Knotty Ties goal is to keep growing and get as many people in awesome bow ties as possible. [Photo by Tom Skelley]

It might not occur to most people to move a necktie shop into a building and neighborhood known more for easels and pastels than sewing machines and Windsor knots, but for Priest and his partners, Mark Johnson, Zach Spencer, and Austin Allan, it made perfect sense.

“We started out by attempting to make ties a blank canvas for art,” said Priest, “so to be in a community of artists totally makes sense.” Of course, necessity and practicality were factors as well, according to Priest, “[When] we started the company, we were working at my coffee table and honestly, our backs started to hurt.”

While having a wide sampling of creative neighbors has been good for the company’s creativity, having a variety of outlets for their product has been the key to its success. Ten percent of Knotty Tie’s business comes from Canada and the United Kingdom. Denverites can find their ties locally at stores featuring “Coloradical” products, and customers from around the globe can design their own ties on the company’s website.

It has been less than 12 full months since Priest’s baby crawled out of his living room and into the artists’ den at 841 Santa Fe. Last year’s startup funds from the Kickstarter campaign got the company off the ground, and now Priest is finalizing a $100,000 bank loan to take Knotty Tie to a the next level.

The company is still in its infancy, but Johnson doesn’t mince words when he describes their objective: “Our goal is just to keep growing it and get as many people in awesome bow ties as we can.”

What: Knotty Tie Co.
Where: 841 Santa Fe Drive
 Denver, CO 80204
Cost: $45-$50

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About Tom Skelley

Tom Skelley is a freelance writer, photographer, drummer, husband and soon-to-be father, living in Aurora, CO. He moved to Denver in 1997 with nothing but his car, and he loves to sleep.

View all posts by Tom Skelley

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