Graphic designer Jim Jackson has applied his talents to the work of many of the great Minnesota companies—General Mills, Best Buy and others. In the past 11 months, he’s taken his sense for style and color and applied it to a business of his own—Jackson has created a thriving company out of a personal passion—neckties.
“I love neckties—I wear them often,” says Jackson. “One day I was looking at my closet and was really tired of my assortment.” He says that when he tried to shop for new ties, he couldn’t find any he wanted to buy. “If you go to upscale stores like Nordstorm, the prices are so high, I couldn’t bear to buy anything. And even if I were to want to buy something, there was nothing that appealed to me,” he says.
He found the prices at stores like T.J. Maxx more agreeable, but he was unhappy with the limited variety.
It was this want of fresh, attractive, reasonably priced ties that motivated Jackson to start Geometry—his own line of ties.
“I’m a graphic designer—the creative director of an ad agency. I thought, ‘Why don’t I design my own ties?’ Then I just started doodling around,” says Jackson.
Jackson wanted nothing to do with the stripes and plaids ubiquitous in the men’s sections of clothing stores and on the tie-racks in men’s closets.
He explains there’s a reason why so many ties have striped and plaid patterns besides the fact that people buy them out of habit. “If you think about weaving something, typically you go straight across, and then you go down to the next line. And if you want to change color, you change color, but it’s typically a striped pattern, so my designs are unconventional—the geometrical patterns have different shapes, which is why they’re called ‘Geometry,’” says Jackson.
Because his ties have out-of-the-ordinary designs, finding a manufacturer for them was a challenge, says Jackson. There were many suppliers who said they could print Jackson’s designs on fabric, but he wanted the designs to be woven in. “I wanted high-quality silk ties. I didn’t want poor-quality printed ties. Finally we were able to get something I would wear myself,” says Jackson.
After finding a manufacturer, Jackson still had many more specifics to figure out. “As far as the business, I had no clue about how to manufacture neckties, how to order the right quantities or what quality of silk to use,” he says.
Jackson also found that determining the width of the ties was more complicated than he first thought. “I didn’t want the ties to be too skinny because I’d alienate an older demographic, and I didn’t want them to be too fat, because then I’d alienate a younger demographic,” says Jackson. He proceeded to do some on-the-ground research.
“I found every tie that I could, and I talked with people about their favorite ties—why did they like them? What was the width?” Jackson’s research led him to make the ties “three-fingers width”—three fingers across at their widest point. He also chose his color palette carefully. “The colors were a big part of the brand. I wanted colors that were vibrant, but I didn’t want them to be goofy or funky. They needed to be professional,” he says.
“It’s been really fun. Going from someone who never had any idea about how to manufacture and sell ties, and now selling hundreds of ties online, and selling them in the Foursome [in Plymouth]—that’s been really gratifying. The most fun I have is when people say, ‘I feel good in your ties.’ We’re trying to create a brand that you can wear with confidence and know that if it has our label, you’re going to make a good impression,” says Jackson.
Geometry ties are also available at:
3570 Vicksburg Lane N., Plymouth
On model: Brown donegal fall sport coat by TailoRED, $698;
White Mizzen+Main performance dress shirt, $125
(Styling by The Foursome)