Brackish Bow Ties

Brackish Bow Ties
Brackish Bow Ties

Finding the perfect gift is something Ben Ross takes very seriously. He is a man who believes in letting others know how he feels. After receiving his fiancee’’s approval, Ross designed a prototype bow tie to wear to their last engagement dinner.  Prototype you say. A bow tie is merely a piece of cotton tied into a bow; however, Ross’’s design entails much, much more finesse. Having had a love affair with nature since Ross’’s father first introduced him to the great outdoors, he gravitated toward feathers. Fletching arrows for archery and using all types of feathers for fly tying, Ross decided to use his expertise with feathers to design a bow tie; the idea was an interesting one, but the how-to was another story.

The “ah-ha” moment came when Ross was standing in his dining room, and just by chance a few turkey breast feathers were laying right next to a bow tie he planned on wearing.  It was then that he realized the “tapering and natural conformation of the feathers on the tie were perfect.” Being the last of his friends to marry, Ross wanted something special for his groomsmen.  Flasks and glasses were nice, but he was looking for something you couldn’’t get in any store, and the bow tie, if it passed muster, was not only unique, it would show how much he “valued each and everyone” of his groomsmen. Walking into dinner wearing this unusual bow tie, first impressions drew a lot of responses: “Wow, that is really neat; I’’ve never seen anything like it; that’s beautiful; can I touch it, and you made this?” The “rave reviews” he received that evening solidified Ross’s idea of creating a signature piece for his groomsmen to wear at the wedding.

Things moved quickly after that.  Jeff Plotner, one of the originals in the wedding party, first met Ross in 1997 when they were freshmen at Wofford College. ““We were inseparable pretty much in college and even to this day.” It made perfect sense for them to become partners. “Jeff is one of those special friends that gave me the desire to create this gift. His belief, drive, and determination in Brackish has brought us far beyond my dining room table…If it wasn’’t for him, I’d still be making bow ties one-at-a-time.””  

Ross is a very passionate man.  Family and friends mean the world to him, so the company name had to relate to the two of them.  One night after midnight, Ross phoned his partner, waking him from a dead sleep to say, “I’’ve got it. The name is Brackish.” Since Ross is from Columbia, SC and Plotner is from St. Simons Island, GA–one represents salt water while the other represents fresh water. When you mix the two together it becomes brackish.  

Plotner runs the day-to-day operations from Charleston, while Ross designs from home. “”I design all the time or just about and send the designs down there. One day, I hope to transition over and move, but for now, I work at home. My day job is in facility management. I build and develop office buildings for lawyers…[At Brackish,] we have a great team who work hard on my designs and are Artisans themselves.” The first thing that must be done after designing a bow tie is to do a compilation.  Looking at size, color, match, taper, and flow of the feathers being used, the durability must prove worthy. “We don’t restrict ourselves to combinations of feather. And, all the bow ties have names that mean something.” Brackish uses turkey feathers, peacock, guinea, rooster plus others, but besides bow ties, they also design gorgeous lapel pins, hat pins, and cummerbunds.  A cufflink line is almost ready to launch using turkey feathers and casts of gator or shark teeth made from beautiful alloys of aluminum or bronze. No actual tooth is used, only a metal casting.”

Brackish “designs for it to look and feel right. We’re never satisfied until it is just right. There’s always something you can tweak to make better.  [Besides that,] we have so much fun.” The packaging is unique too. Each bow tie is carefully wrapped in burlap and placed in a wooden box with the name Brackish branded on the outside. The popularity of these items is self-evident. Stepping out at the 2014 Oscars, Bill Murray was seen “sporting a Brackish,” and he wore the “original” bow tie to George Clooney’’s and Amal Alamuddin’’s Italian wedding.

Brackish bow ties are making a splash in Southeast and are in stores as far north as Vermont and as far west as San Francisco. In total they are in nearly 100 stores nationwide and in stores in England. For more information visit Brackish Bow Ties are available for purchase in Charlotte at Marc Williams’ popular Selwyn Avenue shop, The Sporting Gent.