Adam Speicher (pronounced "Spiker") had no intentions of becoming a fashion designer when he started his job as an insurance underwriter and client services rep at a local financial firm years ago. In fact, he never even knew how to sew before he created his first bow tie -- the very one that would eventually set in motion the Speicher Tie Co.
He and his wife, Carly, founded Speicher Tie Co. in January 2013. At the time, Speicher needed a bow tie to wear to an event, but he was deeply dissatisfied with the choices he found available in town and on the Internet.
"The more I looked at the bow ties in stores and online, the more I kept thinking to myself, 'That looks easy enough to make!'" he says. "So I bought a sewing machine on Craigslist, learned to sew from the woman who sold it to me, and the rest is history."
Speicher uses two vintage sewing machines he lovingly named the "Bow Tie Master 5000," which is a 1940s Singer model, and "Emma," which is a swanky Singer model from 1968. He designs, sews and names all his bow ties from the comfort of his north side Indianapolis apartment. Each custom-made tie takes about 30 minutes to create.
According to Speicher, his specialty tie company speaks especially to the fashion tastes of the young, "geeky" scientist or doctor types.
"Most of the orders I get are very specific, down to the fabric's pattern and colors," he says. "After a customer puts in his or her request, I head to the fabric store to see what I can find.
Speicher enjoys shopping at local fabric stores such as Crimson Tate for materials that give off a cool vibe. The hipster-approved prints particularly spark his creativity, and he buys all his fabrics in large quantities. Speicher says his favorite part of the process is coming up with new designs. He currently offers more than 80 different styles from which customers can choose.
"The most unique fabric request I have ever received was from a recent order," Speicher says. "A couple wanted a bow tie with oxytocin molecules -- the molecule that makes two people fall in love -- for their wedding day."
As with all the personalized bow tie orders, this one became a personal challenge, and it was one he met. He found pink fabric with dark pink oxytocin molecules on it. And so the tie was born. Though this was the most unusual request, Speicher has yet to have one he could not fulfill.
If the ties weren't charming and homespun enough, the process by which they're made is. Everything about Speicher Tie Co. is "homemade." All of the promotional product shots of Speicher's bow ties online are taken with his iPhone in a no-frills cardboard photo light box he created himself.
He sells his ties online on Etsy.com for $25 each. The bow ties are also promoted and sometimes sold on "Mental Floss," a YouTube show with local author John Green. The company also has Facebook and Tumblr accounts.
"We've had so much success partnering with Etsy that we haven't had a reason to start our own website," Speicher says.
Speicher ships to more than 20 different countries, connecting with geeks and fashion lovers alike worldwide. Recently central Indiana realtor John Stone, part of "Team Stone" of ERA Real Estate, turned to Speicher Tie Co. when he wanted to offer his clients a personalized spin on the typical thank-you card. As a way to enhance customer service, Stone created the "bow tie guarantee." This ensures that each new homeowner he works with will receive a custom-made Speicher bow tie. Stone, a customer and fan of Speicher Tie Co. himself, said the guarantee has helped set his real estate company apart from all others in surrounding areas.
"Overall, my customers have loved their bow ties," Stone says. "I constantly get pictures and text messages from the kids and even adults wearing them later."
Stone chose to partner with Speicher because the bow ties could be individualized to fit each of his clients' personalities, much like the homes he locates for them.
"You can almost customize them any way you want for such a low, consistent price," Stone says. "It gives me an opportunity to pay attention to my customers' likes and interests and give back to them. One of my customers works for the Indy 500 festival, so I had Adam make me an Indy 500 bow tie for him."
Moving forward, Speicher plans to start selling his product in local shops. He also wants to introduce at least 10 new fabric patterns a month. But aside from business aspirations, he has his sights set on even bigger goals (at least one). He's currently in the process of making the world's largest bow tie.
"It will be exactly 14 times larger than a regular bow tie," he says. "It is a dream of mine to end up in the Guinness Book of World Records."