What if U.S. communities embraced the gifts that international refugees have to offer and partnered with them to rebuild our economy through innovative business models? And what if those business models reinvigorated old industries with fresh ideas and a responsive approach? That is exactly what Knotty Tie, an entrepreneurial and visionary business in Denver, Colorado, is doing and why the Untours Foundation recently gave them a loan to expand their business with the purchase of new machinery.
Knotty Tie designs and manufactures high quality, custom neckties, bowties, pocket squares and lightweight scarves, and in the process, fulfills a social mission: creating dignified employment opportunities for skilled resettled refugees. Founders, Jeremy Priest and Mark Johnson, started the company with the explicit mission of embracing refugees from various countries, including Iraq and Somalia. The company partners with a Denver non-profit training program, We Made This, which helps area refugees to leverage their existing skills into meaningful employment. The result has been transformational for the individuals who are employed at Knotty Tie — and for Knotty Tie, which has grown and prospered as a result of the partnership.
Imad, who fled Iraq and spent 10 years in Jordan before resettling in the U.S., illustrates the mutually-beneficial model. Imad’s father had taught him to sew as a child, but Imad found it incredibly difficult to learn English and find sustainable employment in the U.S. We Made This was impressed with his tailoring skills and recommended him to Knotty Tie. “I love my job here…I think it is not easy to find a good job that also encourages me to pursue my personal goals and education, and I have found that here at Knotty Tie Co.” Knotty Tie declares that Imad’s “craftsmanship keeps us in awe, and he is both a welcome breath of fresh air and an example of hard work to our team.” Like all Knotty Tie employees, Imad earns fair wages with benefits and enjoys a family-friendly, flexible schedule.
Knotty Tie brings another imaginative twist to the old-fashioned necktie industry. In addition to selling a beautiful array of pre-selected products, Knotty Tie will also work with shoppers to create unique products that reflect their personal style and interests. They specialize in custom-designed ties for weddings and special events, but will just as happily co-design and sew a single item – there is no minimum order required. Fabrics are environmentally responsible, as is the entire manufacturing process. Knotty Tie brings fun and flair to a trade that, let’s face it, has been a little bit stuffy—all the while maintaining impeccable quality standards.
Knotty Tie is a timely inspiration for embracing, supporting, and partnering with some of the world’s bravest and most desperate individuals. Most of Knotty Tie’s employees are people who have endured unimaginable trauma, fled war and persecution, and are attempting to recover and make a new life for themselves and their children in the heartland of America. Imagine selecting your favorite necktie in the morning – in your colors and perhaps with a pattern reflecting a personal hobby — and as you tie it, you are reminded that this simple article of clothing has changed someone’s life and has modeled a community response to the global refugee crisis. Now there’s a good way to start your day!
The Untours Foundation is proud to invest the generous contributions of Untourists in this extraordinary business. Learn more at www.knottytie.com