Create a way for people to design their own ties in an eco-friendly process using 100% organic fabric and old world craftsmanship, all in the heart of Denver. For college friends, Jeremy Priest and Mark Johnson, that was the idea behind launching the Knotty Tie Company on Kickstarter in 2013. These entrepreneurs also saw their business as a way to “create their own destiny” and employ resettled refugees at the same time.
Housed in Denver’s historic Santa Fe Arts District, Knotty Tie creates handmade, custom-designed ties, bowties, scarves and pocket squares for individuals, groups and special occasions. Their inspiration comes from their growing fan base and from their passion for originality and quality. A sign of their popularity, Knotty Tie products have been in the spotlight at Red Rocks Amphitheater and the New York Stock Exchange.
With increased demand for Knotty Tie products, Jeremy and Mark needed more working capital to cover costs for expanded manufacturing, related training, and staffing. They contacted Colorado Enterprise Fund in 2013 about a loan to buy new equipment and supplies to increase production capacity, and returned in 2015 for more financing to get textile printing and color analysis equipment to reduce production costs and create custom products more rapidly in-house.
“We were so glad we found CEF at the appropriate time for our business,” recalled Jeremy, a Navy veteran. “CEF helped us grow our business before outside investors were interested, on terms that were very favorable given our mediocre credit, lack of collateral and nascent business model - all while preserving our ownership to share with employees.”
Since partnering with CEF, Knotty Tie sales have more than tripled in each of the past two years. Along with their success, Jeremy and Mark are constantly assessing their operations including hiring and retaining skilled staff. A major focus of their business mission is partnering with the African Community Center to find trained crafts people.
“Economic growth is driven by small business,” Jeremy said. “CEF plays an instrumental role in ensuring that all segments of Colorado's society can participate and create opportunities for themselves, their families and communities.”
* Indicates VALOR veteran loan recipient