In high school, rather than thinking about the next party, Brandon Etheridge was designing and selling a unique type of bow tie. Etheridge, 20, was a rising senior at his high school in Waxhaw when he started his business, Deck Head, from his grandmother’s home in 2013.
“We were making bow ties at my grandmother’s house; essentially she was our manufacturing plant and I was running around making these sales,” Etheridge said.
Deck Head bow ties are unlike the standard bow tie you find in a store or online. Etheridge created a bow tie that has a longer shelf life. He understands that bow ties are a statement piece. Worn too often, that statement is not as strong.
Etheridge designed a bow tie with two halves of material. A small clip connects the halves of material to make the bow tie. These halves may be “mixed and matched” to make several unique styles. A multi-pack of three halves ($60) can make six different-looking ties, all from 100 percent woven silk.
Brandon Etheridge answers five questions for C5’s Small Business Series:
(1)What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
“I like to think back whenever I am struggling or things are not going our way to our first sale at Wingate University. For me, that was a glorifying experience. It was our first legitimate sale. I was 17 and had no business selling anything to anyone. It was one of my happier and prouder moments.”
(2) What’s your least favorite part about being an entrepreneur?
“There are a lot of sacrifices people are not willing to make as an entrepreneur. On a Thursday night, people are meeting up somewhere to go and hang out. For me, it means giving up that night to plan the next day, make designs, plan what we are going to do for social media or find the next place to sell our products. It is a huge sacrifice from a social aspect, but totally worth it.”
(3) If you had to choose one thing, what do you think you’re the best in the world at?
“Designing bow ties — I love to say that our bow ties are truly the most versatile on the market.”
(4) What makes you uncomfortable?
“When I am unplanned or unprepared for something, which does not happen too often, I get tripped up or lose my train of thought. I usually take extreme measures to make sure that does not happen.”
(5) How does being an entrepreneur affect your relationships with your friends and family?
“My friends are super supportive. They all joke that they will list me as their job reference. I have all the support in the world from my family. This could not be possible without them.”
Family history and my own fascination with people and their motivations prompted me to begin this series about Charlotte’s small business owners. Industry, situation and questions will vary. Have a suggestion for a small business owner or entrepreneur to interview? Email it to email@example.com with the subject line “Small Business Series.”
Photos: Lucien Sirois, Deck Head