It started with an ill-fitting bow tie Karen Sweet purchased for her boyfriend. It was his first bow tie and, despite the fact that it was fairly expensive, it didn’t adjust well. Sweet modified the bow tie to be adjustable and, eventually, created a prototype of the ideal neck accessory.
Sweet, 31, began sewing often bright, always stylish bow ties from her home in the fall of 2012. The company name, Offal Goods, is a wink at her tendency to mainly use end-of-the-roll materials handed down to her by family members. As part of her goal to cut down on overconsumption, she recently added pocket squares to her repertoire and plans to design a line of skinny ties.
Sweet, a purchasing assistant at gravitypope, began sewing at the age of six and has a diploma in fashion production from Olds College. It takes about an hour for Sweet to press, sew, trim and package each bow tie.
Ranging from floral pattern to striped or polka-dot print, the cotton blend ties sell for $60 each. Customers range from guys in their early 20s to older gentlemen. “We do get a lot of older people reminiscing and they’re quite excited about it,” says Sweet. Women often buy them for gifts or sometimes for themselves – their patterns often appeal to both sexes. Buyers fall on two ends of the spectrum – those afraid to try pops of brightness and those wanting vibrant colours. For those who shy away from strong colours or loud patterns, the indigo chambray is a toned-down option.
Currently, Barber Ha sells some of the line and customers can order online through Offal Goods’ website. Sweet, who prefers to put time and effort into each individual bow tie rather than mass producing them, has sold at the previous two Royal Bison Art & Craft Fairs and will set up shop at the seasonal 124 Street Grand Market one Thursday a month.