When Ben Ross got married, he wanted to give his groomsmen something a little more meaningful than a flask. So he combined his love of the outdoors with a little craftiness and made each one of them bow ties out of turkey feathers. The Jive Turkey, as the design came to be known, was a hit with the wedding guests, and as more and more people started requesting their own, Ross realized his little groomsmen gifts might turn out to be pretty valuable.

“Every time you wear one out, you get multiple people coming up to you, asking where to get them,” says Jeff Plotner, one of Ross’ groomsmen who started Brackish Bow Ties with him this summer. “So we decided to take it to the next level, and it’s worked out so far.”

Although they’ve done little in the way of advertising, word about Brackish Bow Ties is spreading quickly and they’re working hard to keep up with the demand. A July sale on the design-oriented shopping website Fab.com really brought the brand into the limelight, and they’ve since been covered by the online magazine Uncrate and Time Out Chicago, which included the ties in a “must-haves of the moment” list last week. Another Fab.com sale is set for later this month.

“There aren’t a lot of other things in fashion as traditional, clean, and sacred as a bowtie, and then since we tweaked it just a little bit, it becomes something completely different and hopefully better than the original,” Plotner says.

Brackish continues to hire new employees to help create the increasingly popular handcrafted ties, which are made from turkey and pheasant feathers. “The handmade quality makes it more personal and also makes it a little more unique and genuine,” Plotner says. “With the nature of these feathers, every single bow tie is going to be different because all of these feathers are going to be different. So everybody that buys one is going to be getting something unique, and we pride ourselves on that tradition that Ben started. We want to keep that going.”

Brackish currently offers three ties: the Jive Turkey ($89), the Carolina Copper ($85), and the Phunky Pheasant ($105). Although they hope to sell the ties at local retailers soon, right now you can only get them at brackishbowties.com. In the future, they hope to add cuff links, cumberbunds, and eventually a women’s line.

The product has resonated much more widely than the pair expected. “Originally, we were looking at just the Southern man that’s looking to stand out a little but from the crowd and really loves the outdoors, but we’ve noticed that it’s really all over the spectrum,” Plotner says. “We can’t pigeonhole it anywhere.”

Keep the City Paper free

We don't have a paywall. Each week's printed issue is free. We're local, independent and free. Let's keep it this way.

Please consider a donation of $100 to keep the City Paper free. Donate: chscp.us