Pat Gaines was a little frustrated.
She wanted to buy the perfect bow tie for her grandson's Valentine’s Day picture. She had a specific color scheme and style she was looking for but after searching far and wide, she had to settle on a tie that was, at its best, just OK. "I could not find anything satisfactory and I went to multiple places, including several specialty clothing stores,” says Gaines, a Grand Rapids resident.
After a short reflection, Gaines decided enough was enough. She knew she wasn't the only person looking for the perfect tie, especially with weddings and graduations coming up in the spring, so she decided to make ties herself. "I had the skills to make the ties myself, so I did,” she explains.
It did not take long before she began getting orders, primarily through word of mouth, for her ties from friends and family. From there, she made contact with a local tailor, who asked Gaines to make her custom ties for entire wedding parties.
And that spring (2015) was the humble beginning of Pat Gaines’ entrepreneurial journey and business, All Tied Up by Pat.
The operative word there is 'beginning,’ because Gaines has big plans and a support network to make it happen. Knowing she needed some assistance to create a profitable and sustainable business, Gaines decided to enroll in SpringGR
, an entrepreneurial training, mentoring and networking program.
"It was a great resource,” she says. “I found out about it through friend. I had a ballroom dancing program scheduled on the same day so it was SpringGR or ballroom dancing. SpringGR won."
Gaines credits the program with keeping her on track, helping her to develop her plan, and keeping her motivated and accountable. "Chris Mathis was my business coach with SpringGR; meeting with him on a weekly basis has really broadened my business horizons,” she says.
Moving forward Gaines says her plan is to polish her branding and launch an ecommerce site within the next six to 12 months. Her goal is specialize in custom made men's neckwear, not just bow ties, and have a wide variety of stylish products "from the low end to the high end.”
In the meantime, if you are interested in viewing her work or placing an order, Gaines says to contact her directly through her Facebook page, All Tied Up by Pat.
Writer: John Rumery, Innovation and Jobs News Editor