Freshman crafts, sells quirky custom bow ties from dorm room

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Journalism freshman Grace Gonzalez lies among her handmade bow ties. The different bow ties, which she sells by email and around the dorm, represent her eclectic style, she said. (Annika Cline/DD)

When Grace Gonzalez arrived at the Early Start Program at ASU’s Downtown campus, she never expected her unique hobby and style to become a well sought-after trend and source of money.

However, her homemade bow ties have made quite the impression, both on campus and outside of the state.

“I’m blown away,” said Gonzalez, a freshman journalism major. “It’s really bizarre, I’m not used to the attention. It’s really flattering, I feel like such a special snowflake.”

It was last summer that Gonzalez first developed her avocation. She said she saw hair bows online that depicted one of her favorite forms of entertainment — wrestling.

“I’m really into professional wrestling,” Gonzalez said. “I went online and saw bows that were customized with little pictures of wrestlers on them. I wanted to buy them, but my mom suggested we make them ourselves instead.”

Gonzalez started out making hair bows and later, influenced by the popular sci-fi show “Doctor Who,” she decided to put pins on her bows and wear them as bow ties.

“When The Doctor is about to die, he regenerates,” she said. “The 11th version of him has a bow tie, and his catchphrase is ‘Bow ties are cool.’ I’m trying to emanate The Doctor.”

Gonzalez keeps her bow ties all together in a green basket. The ties are piled on top of each other, creating a colorful mesh of random patterns and designs.

One bow tie depicts the “Space Invaders” video game, the next is decorated in blue hearts. The many others encompass Gonzalez’s varied styles.

“It’s hard to pick a favorite,” she said. “They are like children, I birthed each and every one of them.”

Gonzalez described her style as eclectic and different, and said her bow ties reflect as much.

“I’m really quiet and shy,” she said. “My clothes don’t have to be, though … I use my style to express myself.”

Although many people may associate bow ties with men, Gonzalez said she believes they are a flattering accessory for both genders.

“I think it brings a person joy to wear them,” she said. “They look great on anyone, regardless of whether they are a boy or a girl.”

Although Gonzalez has not officially started a website for her work, the bow ties have already begun selling. Journalism freshman Zack Bunting was the first to purchase a tie.

“I was stricken by the craftsmanship of (the bow tie),” Bunting said. “It was nautical-themed, and I thought it was kind of cool.”

Journalism freshman Aubrey Rumore from Kansas City said she instantly recognized Gonzalez’s unique style at her freshman orientation in May.

“She told our group she made bow ties and I seriously never forgot about her,” Rumore said.

Rumore brought her enthusiastic interest in Gonzalez’s craft back to her hometown. Adam Brown, Rumore’s friend from Kansas City, was attracted to the handmade aspect of Gonzalez’ work and plans on purchasing some ties.

“I have always had a passion for bow ties,” Brown said. “After I heard about Grace’s exceptionally quality ties, I knew I had to have one.”

Gonzalez said the money she will make from her hobby would be a big help for college expenses, particularly housing costs.

Gonzalez said bow tie prices start at $5, but added the cost will depend on an case-by-case basis. For example, bow ties of a specific fabric or customization would cost more.

She hopes to make her own store on Etsy. Until then, she is taking requests through email.

Contact the reporter at rebecca.brisley@asu.edu