Sewing and selling skirts had been her main focus.
But upon finishing her junior year at Covenant Day, Sadie Pugh decided she and her two friends should start a business that involved sewing something simpler.
The trio, including seniors April Miller and Catherine Crouch, drew inspiration from their fathers and brothers, who often don bow ties.
Just a day after their final exams last spring, they formed LilACS and Co. They’ve been sewing and selling the neckwear ever since.
“We just started selling them and it worked,” Catherine said.
The three had originally thought of making items for women, too, but settled on bow ties because they make the most amount of money for the least amount of fabric, Pugh said. LilACS and Co. charges $25 per bow tie.
The girls also have a prime market: Wednesday is Chapel Day at their school, which requires all male students to wear ties or bow ties.
In their busy seasons, spring and summer, the three will make a big trip to two Gastonia stores about once a month to buy fabrics.
Their Facebook page says they’re “inspired by the lifestyle of sweet tea, manners, and football.”
They only do print fabrics from 100 percent cotton, April said. They line each bow tie with white fabric and sew in an embroidered tag. Their hottest sellers have been the “nautical flags” and “coral dot” bow ties.
April called their style “a Southern, traditional preppy look.”
Business initially spread by word of mouth, and soon people starting liking their Facebook page. Then they created an email address and started handing out business cards.
Since starting the business less than a year ago, Sadie estimated the group has made more than 100 bow ties.
They said they do it for fun more than for the money: Catherine and April baby-sit and Sadie works at Chick-fil-A.
Sadie said getting paid for the bow ties is always a bonus. Most times, “I didn’t even realize we were doing the work,” she said, adding that they all have fun in the garage listening to music and sewing.
“It’s like a garage band, but a garage business,” Sadie said.
Sadie and Catherine both plan to study business, and April interior design. Sadie will be attending N.C. State in the fall, and the other two are still in the decision-making process.
Jackie Weigel, who has taught Sadie and April in interior design at Covenant Day, said she has been “thrilled” to see some of her students capitalize on their creativity.
“It takes you aback because you don’t expect to have young people already being successful in the marketplace,” Weigel said. “The more I dug into (their business), the more I realized this wasn’t just selling lemonade and cookies on a corner stand. They already understood marketing.”
Ruebens: 704-358-5294; On Twitter: @YoungAchCLT
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