Penn State Students Create One Of A Kind Bow Tie Business
by: Abhar Shah
What started off as a way to keep his frat brothers from mocking him quickly turned into a successful business.
Carl Rowits, a Penn State junior, teamed up with his roommate Reg Goeke, also a junior at Penn State, and created a business that designs and produces bow ties.
The idea came to Rowits after he was ridiculed during a Beta Theta Pi initiation ceremony.
“I joined my frat freshman year and at the initiation ceremony I wore a clip-on bow tie with my jacket,” Rowits said. “As soon as I walked in the door everyone noticed that it was a clip on and everyone made fun of me.”
Rowits went home later that Christmas and told his mom that he wanted to get real bow ties. But after getting them, he realized they didn’t have any inner lining and all that of them were made in China.
“I thought to myself that I can definitely make bow ties for cheaper,” says Rowits. “I went to Jo-Ann Fabric and got a cotton fabric. We made a bow tie and I wore that to another jacket event. One of the guys loved the tie so much that he bought it off my neck for $50.”
After realizing that he could make decent money from this, the idea for selling bow ties was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Their website Homanbriar.com has been a success thus far, so one could say that Rowits wearing his clip-on tie at the initiation ceremony was a blessing in disguise.
“In hindsight, I’m glad he wore the clip-on tie,” Goeke said. “But regardless, we both knew that at some point in our lives we were going to end up starting something together.”
All the materials that go into their ties are made in America. According to Goeke, they want to get as much as they can from Pennsylvania businesses.
Besides bow ties, the duo wanted to expand their demographic and have started selling t-shirts as well.
“We ventured into shirts because girls tend not to buy bow ties or wear bow ties; even a lot of guys don’t wear bow ties,” Rowits said. “This year we’re going to team up with Woolrich and we’re going to try to buy wool from them to expand our products.”
The bow ties are on sale for around $40 to $50. Besides selling them to customers, Rowits and Goeke also sell ties in bulk to Harper’s Men Clothing Store.
Another new product that the tag team will release are THON headbands.
“This fall, our plan is to make THON headbands and sell them to different hospital gift shops,” Rowits said. “We support THON a lot, so all the proceeds from the headbands will go to THON. We’re proud to do something like that.”
Both Rowits and Goeke take pride in their work, so it’s not all about the money.
“All of our products are made by hand,” Goeke said. “We take great pride in in helping others. Our goal and message to everyone is that we’re two college kids that are focused on creating excellent products that benefit not just us but everyone around us.”