[quote style=”boxed”]Ditch your hoodies and start investing in some decent cardigans. You’ll get a lot more compliments, but be sure to leave your bottom button unbuttoned- it’s a common mistake. Also simply adding a tie bar is a classy way to improve the look of your business wear.[/quote]
Jake Kuczeruk is the Chief Marketing Officer of Tie Society, which offers exclusive access to a premium collection of designer ties and bowties. With premium designer brands available such as Hermes, Brooks Brothers, and Bruno Piatelli in its Online Closet, members have access to hundreds of limited run and hand made ties – from houndstooths to paisleys, from the skinnies to extra longs, we painstakingly curate the finest ties from around the world and deliver them to you with unlimited free round-trip shipping.
What are you working on right now?
Currently we’re preparing to launch version 2.0 of our Tie Society website and service. Our new site, which should be live soon, will be much more interactive. We are building a place for guys to share their styles and discover new ones, while also making the accessories they need easily available to them. We’re focusing on perfecting the “Society” side of Tie Society.
Beyond that, while we currently carry ties, pocket squares, and cufflinks, our service is expanding to include additional accessories and apparel. Version 2.0 of our site will offer curated outfit selections and fashion advice, referrals to our partner’s products, and we’re adding a store for quick purchases. Ties are just the beginning. We’re building an online closet where guys can find the perfect basics (shirts, pants, shoes) and have access to thousands of accessories to complete the full outfit.
Where did the idea for Tie Society come from?
Our co-founders, Zac Gittens and Otis Collins, started Tie Society after they were visited in their dreams by a well-dressed angel, carrying a message of hope for a new type of menswear service … Haha! Believe it or not, it actually happened one day over beers and football. Shortly after graduating college, Zac and Otis were working jobs in the Washington DC area that required them to wear a suit and tie everyday to work. Having been lifelong friends, the guys started meeting up on Sunday afternoons to watch some NFL and unwind.
Image is everything in business, and when money’s tight, it’s hard to justify spending $50 or more on a new tie. Guys can get away with wearing the same few suits each day to work, but the tie is the first thing that people tend to notice. To help diversify their outfits, Zac and Otis came up with the brilliant plan to bring their tie collections with them when they watch Sunday football to swap amongst each other. Zac would trade his J.Crew ties for Otis’s Brooks Brothers, and so on. Pretty soon, more and more of their friends were joining in these tie exchanges. Naturally it reached a point where they decided to take it all online- and thus Tie Society was born.
What does your typical day look like?
An average day for me consists of sending mountains of email, attempting to establish partnerships and make the connections necessary to advance our business. I’m responsible for managing our interns and will coordinate with the team in Washington DC to ensure that there is always a new initiative in the works. One week this could be a new product photoshoot, or the next it could be designing an improved method for displaying our gift certificates.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I bring ideas to life the same way that I imagine everyone else does- with the support and individual contributions of a team dedicated to seeing our company’s continued growth. In the startup world, there just isn’t time to let any ideas sit on the back burner. When a team member has an idea, we’ll collectively try to identify any flaws in it. If it still seems feasible, then we’ll each handle our individual portions in order to bring it to fruition.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
New ties being created from recovered vintage fabrics. Also, the dramatic growth forecasts for the future of E-commerce. I’ve read estimates that 6 percent of all retail sales are currently being transacted online. That number is expected to hit 20 percent within a decade, even reaching 50 percent within twenty years. Needless to say, we couldn’t be happier to see this growth.
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
The worst job I’ve ever had was working as a busboy and host for a large national family restaurant chain (think birthday songs and bottomless fries). While I was only 16 when I held the position, this was my first encounter with the hierarchy of business. I soon learned who I could complain to and who I should probably try and shut up around. I witnessed emotion get the better of some of my coworkers, which inevitably lead to their termination. Plainly said, I learned office politics.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I’d be certain that the developers we hired lived close by and were able to meet strict deadlines. Without some form of transparency and accountability, it’s easy to get burned by a team that over-promises and under-delivers.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Constantly engage and actually listen to your users’ demands. Right now there is a good chance there are problems with your service that you’re completely unaware of. You need to devise a clear method for receiving feedback from those who are actually using your product. Just because an idea looks good to you on paper doesn’t mean that it is right for them. You’re not building this for yourself.
What is one failure you’ve experienced as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I was previously involved with another startup company that failed to raise any significant investment. While we were unable to overcome this, we all learned much about how to respond to and manage failure. Having a startup fall apart on you is almost like going through a rough breakup or divorce. Emotions are heightened, you have to be prepared to make quick changes on the fly, and no matter what happens you can’t let it destroy you personally. Overcoming it is having the courage to go out there and try again.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A kill-switch on an internet router so that whenever internet fails, you don’t have to walk over, unplug the thing and wait. There should be a button that fully resets it without all the hassle. Also, I want to see away messages for phones. We had these back with AIM chat and we should have them again now. Whenever I go to a movie, I’d want to be able to set an automated response that texts back “Hey, I’m in a movie, I’ll call you later”. I shouldn’t have to pull my phone out to send that.
If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?
There are many things out there that really grind my gears – such as the slaughter of protected animals for Eastern medicine, our nation’s relentless drone attacks upon civilians in Northern Pakistan, and paying for a terrible unnamed cell phone service that won’t stop dropping my calls. Seriously, tell me as much as you’d like about how you’ve recently expanded coverage in my area…I’m still looking at the same 2 bars.
Tell us a secret.
I preferred the American remake of “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”. The Swedish films all felt like they were made for TV.
What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?
Reddit.com- for understanding new viewpoints and identifying new trends.
Bananatag- a Chrome extension that tells you who actually opens and reviews the emails you send.
Mail Chimp- If you’re doing email blasts, there’s no better tool for managing this process.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Design for Hackers: Reverse Engineering Beauty” by David Kadavy. This book will redefine how you view design, and you’ll want your whole team to read it. Kadavy uses easy examples to make design concerns relatable to those without creative backgrounds.
Three people we should follow on Twitter and why?
@Primermag – Whoever runs Primer Magazine’s Twitter should be given a raise. They always share valuable fashion-related content and do a good job of not oversaturating. Never a boring or useless post.
Scott Schuman aka @Sartorialist – If you’re a fan of his blog, then you’ll love his posts. The man has an unparalleled eye for style and he will honestly lead you to dress better.
@TieSociety – We simply provide a great mix of both fashion and lifestyle-related content. Unlike the bigger guys, we keep our posts limited and relevant. We won’t share something that doesn’t excite us.
When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?
My friends and family never cease to make me laugh on a daily basis, but last night I completely lost it when trying to come up for ideas for a new viral video with my roommate. We started off pretty serious, but by the end we were talking about Michael Bay-esque explosions, cars in slow motion doing doughnuts in traffic, and it just went completely off the rails.
Who is your hero?
It’s an even tie between my Mother and my Father. Without them, I wouldn’t be the man I am today.
What is one overlooked bit of advice for the young entrepreneur?
Be sure to get your own business cards and follow up with everyone that you meet immediately. Networking is essential the success of your company, and after leaving an event, within a day or two each person should have been contacted. Try writing little notes right on their business cards to help you to remember important details.
What are some easy steps for improving my style?
Ditch your hoodies and start investing in some decent cardigans. You’ll get a lot more compliments, but be sure to leave your bottom button unbuttoned- it’s a common mistake. Also simply adding a tie bar is a classy way to improve the look of your business wear.
Tie Society on Facebook:
Tie Society on Twitter: @Tiesociety
Tie Society on Pinterest:
Jake Kuczeruk on LinkedIn:
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.