William Murphy, an entrepreneur, and junior in college at Michigan State University (MSU), was fed up seeing the same fashion trends being worn by the “cool kids” in high school so he decided to re-create his own individual style with a line of bow ties. “After testing and selling my bowties to other high school students, I realized I had a product,” says Murphy. Following months of planning, Reign Bow Ties was launched.
Murphy’s ambition has given him an opportunity to debut his line at MSU Fashion week, speak at the My Brother’s/Sister’s Keeper program, and talk about his business on WXYZ Detroit. On top of everything else, Murphy works as a Lead Spartan Success Coach at MSU, assisting freshmen with their transition to college.
Below he details how he juggles his business and college coursework.
Tell us about your startup cost and process:
It cost less than $50 to start Reign Bow Ties. I launched on Etsy where the fee is $0.20 to list each new product. At the time we only had five to 10 bow ties. We spent about $30 on new fabric and interfacing. The rest of the bow ties were made using fabric from old shirts I’d cut up. We had my mom’s home sewing machine. The boxes we needed to ship orders cost $10. I also invested in patterns and business cards, and had our amateur patterns redone by a professional.
What time do you start your day?
I start my day at 7 a.m. I’m usually not done until midnight. I get dressed, say a prayer, and listen to motivation from Eric Thomas.
What’s your best advice for managing your time?
Buying a planner is great but using the calendar on your phone is just as good. At the start of every semester, I map out my classes on my phone calendar. When I’m not in class I’m either in the gym, studying, or finishing up business work. We all have the same 24 hours a day, the key is how effective are you using these hours?
What’s your best daily marketing tool?
Instagram. Not only does it allow us to tell our story with pictures but using Instagram also allows us to engage with our followers. It can also be used to drive traffic to your shop.
What is it about your business that turns followers into customers?
We know who we’re marketing to. The idea behind our bow ties was to provide a fresh new take on how to wear a bow tie. Instead of wearing them to formal occasions, I wanted people to realize that a bow tie could be worn with jeans and sneakers too. By using fabric that was trending at the moment and catering to the style our customers were looking for, we created our own fan base from our followers.