Homecoming was just around the corner, and SM East junior Noah Marsh decided he wanted to make a fashion statement. But instead of heading to the local haberdashery, he headed to the school’s woodshop.
“Last year, I made this wooden lunchbox in Woods 1,” he said. “I like the idea of taking familiar things and making wooden versions of them. I was thinking it would be interesting to make something I could wear.”
So Marsh grabbed a block of mahogany, plotted out a design using some 3-D imaging software, and started crafting a wooden bowtie. When the dance arrived, it was a hit.
“When we were taking pictures before the dance, all the parents were like, ‘You should sell those. People would love them,’” he said.
Marsh took their advice, formed a company — Against the Grain Bowties — and started making ties to sell. He sold his first tie on Dec. 7, and has sold a total of about 40 since. He started out with ties in solid woods, but moved on to offering striped versions that use two woods, and even checkerboard patterns. The ties start at $40 for solid, domestic wood designs, and cost $50 or $60 for more intricate patterns or exotic woods, like purple heart and zebra wood.
Marsh says he’s made enough from his sales so far to buy his own CNC router, the piece of equipment needed to create a wooden bowtie’s smooth rounded edges.
Marsh says he has entrepreneurship in his blood. His grandfather founded a company in Maryland that owned 11 patents.
“I remember going to visit him as a kids and thinking, ‘Wow, he’s the man in charge. He’s his own boss,’” Marsh said. “That really appealed to me.”
And his entrepreneurial skills appear to be getting outside attention, as well. Marsh was recently name the state vice president of DECA, a national marketing and business club for high school and college students.
Marsh says he’s in the process of building a website to promote and sell his ties. In the meantime, he’s trying to spread the word via the company’s Facebook page.