top of page

the story of knotty tie co.

written for:

knotty tie co.

Our story is one of determination, creativity, and hope. Knotty Tie Co. began as a dream to provide resettled refugees with sustainable employment by turning a garment symbolic of corporate drudgery into a form of self-expression.

Why ties? Co-founders Jeremy Priest and Mark Johnson believed that they could use ties to tell a story—a story that would draw people together regardless of their cultural, social, and religious backgrounds. What they found was that true meaning is often found in small, unexpected moments and that they could take on the overwhelming needs of the world one tie at a time.

Jeremy’s view of life was turned upside down during his military service, and upon returning home, he was surprised to see that refugees in his own country were facing many of the same barriers and inequalities that they had experienced in their home countries. He began volunteering with the African Community Center’s We Made This program, which teaches recently resettled refugees how to sew, and provides assessment and certification for those with pre-existing skills. He observed that while many of the refugees had notable sewing skills, the greatest obstacle they faced was obtaining meaningful and sustainable employment because of language and cultural barriers. This is where Knotty Tie Co. transformed from a dream into a reality.

After many long nights deconstructing ties and printing fabric, Mark and Jeremy taught themselves the skills needed to make a quality product, and sustained by sheer determination and passion, they started a Kickstarter campaign that got Knotty Tie Co. on its feet. A year and a half later, the company hired its first refugee employees—Bems, a creative and entrepreneurial spirit, and Imad, a detail oriented and talented sewer. Within weeks, Bems and Imad had doubled the company’s tie production. As Knotty Tie Co. has continued to grow, we have been able to bring on six more resettled refugees.

Why refugees? While Colorado receives roughly 2,000 refugees each year, resettlement is a complicated process, and many refugees struggle to find meaningful and sustainable employment—most opportunities are seasonal, provide unpredictable hours and harsh working conditions, and don’t offer long-term career opportunities. With an unemployment rate of 50%, refugee women are the most disadvantaged as they carry the additional burden of having to care for their children. At Knotty Tie Co., everyone—from the manufac- turer to the consumer—is treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. Most refugees are allowed few choices about how they live and what they do, and we want to give them the opportunity to choose meaningful employment that gives them a sense of purpose. At Knotty Tie Co., we want all our employees to pursue their dreams, whether that is going to school, becoming leaders of their communities, or developing skills as talented sewers. We believe that empowered people transform their families and communities and are able to successfully take on the challenges facing both their home and host countries.

Why Knotty Tie Co.? We recognize that you have a choice of where you spend your money and what you spend it on, and want you to know that your choice matters. We design products that you want to wear and that tell a story. We are a team of makers, doers, and storytellers working together to connect producers and conscious consumers for positive social change. As a company, brand, and culture, we aspire to make quality products while treating each other with dignity and providing the opportunity for our employees to pursue their dreams. Knotty Tie Co. is a family of change makers and creators. We push each other to grow and to tackle cultural miscommunications constructively – seeing ourselves through each others’ eyes. We would love to meet you! Come visit us, or take a look around our website to learn more about why we do what we do and to familiarize yourself with the individuals that make up our company.

bottom of page