Jay Hendrix with Knotted Handcrafted Bowties

Jay Hendrix with Knotted Handcrafted Bowties

On this week’s podcast, Marcus sits down with Jay Hendrix. With incredible entrepreneur parents guiding him, Jay has always ventured out with his own business ideas from selling Dragon Ball Z posters to working his own hotdog stand. Now-a-days you can find Jay at your local art events and craft shows selling his handmade Knotted bowties!


Jay: Hey guys. My name is Jay Hendrix, owner of Knotted Handcrafted Bowties and Sock Game Mobile, right out of here out of Mobile, Alabama.

Marcus: That is awesome. Well Jay, I'm super excited to get you on the podcast. I know that there are some ties to a previous guest on the podcast, we'll get into that a little bit. But the way that we always start is wanna hear your story. So give us the background of who you are, where you're from, where'd you go to high school.

Jay: Okay.

Marcus: Since you are from Mobile. Where'd you go to college, married, those kind of things.

Jay: Right. Right. Right. Okay, well guys I love telling my story. It's really my background and it shows the passion and everything that I have for my business. But my name is Jay Hendrix. My mother is Joan Hendrix. My father is Demetrius Hendrix.

Jay: My father's an entrepreneur. He's owned his own business now going on 25 years. He has a Barber Shop and Salon on Kelly Road. Great [inaudible 00:01:00] community. My mom, she's the Dean of Nursing at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. Growing up with them, it was awesome. They allowed me a lot of freedom. A lot of opportunities to grow as a young man as far as business, as far as personal things and things that I enjoyed to do.

Jay: I graduated high school from the grade SS Murphy High School. And then I left there and went on to UAB University of Alabama in Birmingham, and I majored in Health Care Management there. And so you can kinda see where I have the healthcare background with my mom being in nursing. And then the management business side of it from my dad. So they were a great influence on me.

Jay: I have a beautiful wife named Adrian Hendrix, and we have a year and a half old named Miss Denny Rose Hendrix.

Marcus: That is awesome.

Jay: Yes, sir.

Marcus: That is so awesome.

Jay: And I got into this based on my parents a lot of the time. My dad, back in high school, he bought me a hot dog stand. I sold hot dogs up there in high school. I never really had an original job like a lot of kids you know, at McDonald's or Sonic or whatever.

Marcus: Right.

Jay: And even going on before that. It's a funny story I tell people, I used to ... My mom, my parents were one of the first ones to have a color printer, and I was a big Dragon Ball Z fan.

Marcus: Okay.

Jay: So what I'd do was I'd print colored pictures of Dragon Ball Z photos. I'd go find cool ones, take them in the elementary school and charged them like two dollars and seventy-five cents for a picture or something like that. And so I'd come home like third or fourth grade having about 20, 25 bucks in all ones, and my mom was like, "Where is all this coming from?" And she goes in and checks her ink, and all her ink's gone 'cause I've been printing color Dragon Ball Z pictures. So this business adventure I've been on is not a new thing for me. It's been something I've been pretty much doing all my life.

Marcus: That's so cool. Now you said you went to Murphy. And I alluded to you being connected to a previous guest, so Carl Cunningham.

Jay: Yes, sir.

Marcus: Is the head of Kappa League, and my understanding is that you were ... you went through that program.

Jay: Yes, sir.

Marcus: And so what can you, just to kind of tie those two together, what influence, what impact did Kappa League have on your life?

Jay: Oh, man. It's ... I can't even use words for it really. I was inducted in the Kappa League my ninth grade year in high school, so that made it 2003. I was a little shy, not really scared, but just a little timid sometimes around people that I felt like were upperclassmen, I guess you could say.

Jay: But I grew in the program. I gained some leadership roles, gained some great leadership qualities. Being able to speak in public, being able to carry myself in a professional and an appropriate manner. Having proper etiquette for different things that I do in different situations and being able to adjust the different things in different situations. You know what I mean? Being able to be put on the spot and maybe sweating a little bit on the inside, but not showing that on the outside.

Marcus: Right.

Jay: So it just really allowed me to gain those qualities that I think are very important for someone that looks to be a businessperson or a successful professional in any manner.

Marcus: Yeah. I think Carl and I are both members of the Order of Fuse and he's pretty active in the Fuse projects community, and I just think so highly of him and what he's doing through that program. I mean I can't point ... I know that there are other programs that are definitely helpful in giving somebody a hand in Mobile, we are a town of non-profits.

Jay: Right.

Marcus: Because we are a caring people. But for one person's impact to be so powerful, it just blows me away what he's doing in the lives of young black men. It's just, it's phenomenal. So, having said that, you kinda alluded to your first job. I mean I can imagine growing up with a father who was an entrepreneur and a business owner, that that really influenced you, but were there any lessons that you remember from, say that first hot dog stand. Or you mentioned that you sold pictures of Dragon Ball Z, what were the lessons that were learned from those early entrepreneurial ventures.

Jay: Oh, man. One lesson I learned, and I actually posted this on Facebook a few days ago, I guess to paraphrase, it was basically, "Show love to your regulars." And you know I mean if you have regular customer, if you have someone that you say, "Okay, this person was there in the beginning, this person was there when times got hard, this person was there when things were great." You know all that, you gotta make sure you show compassion and show just a genuine love for that person, for those people. 'Cause they're gonna be the people that's gonna keep you going and keep you afloat.

Jay: Because it's gonna get hard. It's gonna be times where business isn't so great or you're feeling like, "Okay, what can I be doing?" But those are gonna be the people that's gonna let you know, that's gonna reassure you that you're doing the right thing and going in the right direction.

Jay: And another thing is just be honest. Have integrity in whatever you do. Don't cheat people, don't cheat yourself, don't cut corners. My father always said, "If you're gonna do something, do it the right way the first time." 'Cause I hate having to go back-

Marcus: A heck of a lot cheaper.

Jay: Yeah. I hate, oh man, I hate having to go back and redo something, because it's wasted time. And a lot of times if I have to redo it, especially with me working now with textile products, once it's messed up it's messed up a lot of the times. I can salvage it sometimes, but once it's gone, then it's something cost for, I have to lose that.

Jay: So I always say do good business, treat your customers right, show them that you care for them outside of the handshake and outside of the money to money transfers from it.

Marcus: It's nice to hear you say that, because I think there's ... there can be a mentality in business where it's like, "Get the sale."

Jay: Right.

Marcus: And one of our core values is, don't play to client's emotions. Don't overpromise things, just be real with them and I think that is one of the reasons why people have appreciated doing business with us and it sounds like you're doing the same thing.

Marcus: Now you didn't say, and I wanna hear the story so I'm glad that you didn't say, because I have the question written here on my paper, and if I have it written I have to ask this question. How did you get started in bowties, guy?

Jay: Okay.

Marcus: I mean, this is awesome.

Jay: Yeah, this is a funny story. The night before my wife and I got married, we were just dating. We were trying to think of some ways to bring in some extra money. And we thought and we thought and she said, "Oh I have a sewing machine at my mom's house. I haven't really used it, she hasn't never really used it, so we're gonna bring it over and just make some things." So we thought about pillows for sake. And we went, "Oh everybody makes pillows." And we thought about selling soaps and candles. And, "Everybody makes soaps and candles." And thought of thinking about things that are personal for me that I enjoyed. And I'm not gonna call myself a fashion guru or anything like that-

Marcus: No, but you look sharp dude.

Jay: Thank you. But I like nice clothes, you know what I mean. And so I thought about it, and I'm like, "Okay, bow ties seems like a simple, easy product we could maybe do." So I told my wife, she's like, "Okay, we might be able to do that." 'Cause she goes on YouTube, she's very crafty. She goes on YouTube, she looks at the process. She was like, "We can do this." And we made, I guess, a first copy, a first replica basically. And man, it was trash. It was trash. It had this crappy Velcro strap on the back, it just look tacky and everything like that. And so me being a business person, I took it to my dad. I called my parents and I said, "Look y'all I got this business idea, I wanna run it by you first." They were like they're all in on the idea.

Jay: So I showed them the first product. And my dad's like, "No that's not it." It's like, go back to the house, we do some brainstorming, and we come up with a different piece for it. So we incorporated two Metal D rings, kinda like square rings, and that made it to be adjustable in a way that I could tie my bow ties for people, and take them off on the back. That way if ... I have a lot of people who don't know how to tie them. I prefer for them to know how to tie your own, but I'm gonna make that sale, if I need to tie it for you. And boom there it is, makes life simpler, and it's not intimidating for people too. And he says, "That's the one."

Jay: And we did a little trial run at my parent's church. And it was successful. And every since then, we've been kicking. And I've been doing it full time now for this whole year. We've been in business for three and half years, it was 2015.

Marcus: You mean, so that first run ... When you took that first run in the church, do you remember how many you sold that day?

Jay: Man, I sold ... I was only charging 18 dollars and two for 25.

Marcus: Right.

Jay: And I walked out of there with three, four hundred bucks in an hour and a half.

Marcus: Yes. So I mean it was clear that you were on to something.

Jay: Yeah, yeah.

Marcus: Often times I'm curious about, when a business owner makes that first sale. Or they're in front of their clients the first time, sometimes it's just one.

Jay: Yep.

Marcus: But you know you've got something. But that was a clear indicator. You know it would have been ... If you had gone there and sold two or three, that would have been like, "Yeah, that's great son, you did okay. But they're really just buying because you're a member of the congregation and stuff."

Jay: Right. Right.

Marcus: But the fact that you sold that many, I mean that's-

Jay: That one lady she came and she's like, "I'll take this one, this one, this one." And I'm like, "Hey, what am I gonna do, what kind of price am I gonna tell?" You know, I'm like ... So I gave her a great deal on it. And, man, it's been amazing ever since. It's been amazing. I can go on and on and I might answer some of your questions-

Marcus: No, that's totally fine. I think one of the things that I wanna to get into is, and I'm gonna take just a small second here just to say that, if you are a maker in Mobile, we would want to talk to you.

Jay: Okay.

Marcus: And I'm just mention them to the audience, because we have some ideas of somethings where we want to start promoting makers in the city. Ane we wanna connect you with some other folks that are doing some cool things too. Like Heather Peppercorn has a market every Sunday, like the second Sunday or something like that. And during the warmer months. And so we wanna get you connected with her. But we also have some ideas, and we also want to promote you.

Marcus: So if you are a maker, send us an email. Send us a message through Face Book or whatever.

Marcus: But, your mentioned that you all make all of the bow ties here in Mobile?

Jay: Yes sir.

Marcus: So I think that's absolutely phenomenal. Because it would be very easy for you just to say, "No, I'm just gonna farm this out to some company over in China or something like that." But I love that you are doing that here.

Jay: Right.

Marcus: Now are you and your wife making all of these?

Jay: Yes sir.

Marcus: You are.

Jay: Yes sir. We make these and I do most of the sewing. She helps me do the clothing ends of it, getting everything finalized for it. But man, we started out in my kitchen, on my kitchen table. I had fabric all over the house. Threads everywhere. All that stuff was impossible to keep out the way. And then we ended up translating my work shed in the backyard into a workshop.

Marcus: Yeah.

Jay: As so went from a lawn care, where I had lawn mower and everything goes back to. So natural workshop, I keep all my stuff back there. I spend most mornings early in the morning 6, 7:00 sewing up stuff in the morning time. Like you said man, I could have easily went to China or wherever I could have went to get someone [crosstalk 00:13:11].

Marcus: Yeah, the textile manufacturing-

Jay: But I take pride in my stuff, when I don't like getting things and things not being what I want it to be or what I expected to be. Or even up to the quality that I want it to be, you know what I mean? People always ask me, "How do you pick your fabrics in?" Man, I go to Walmart. I go to JoAnn's. I order on Etsy. And I just find fabrics that ... It's hard to say that I only like. But I pick at my own pace.

Marcus: Right.

Jay: You know what I mean. If I think it's not gonna look good, I'm not gonna buy it.

Marcus: Right.

Jay: Sometimes my wife and I, we may butt heads on that. But were very, very particular about what fabric we get or don't get. Because I wanna have all flavor for you when I pull my stuff out. I want you to see my stuff.

Marcus: So what are you gonna do when it gets bigger?

Jay: That's a big question.

Marcus: [inaudible 00:14:06] you don't have to answer that. 'Cause you may not know.

Jay: I will, but our plan is for my wife and I to both end up doing this full time.

Marcus: Okay. But I mean at some point in time, I like what I've seen of your product. I could see this becoming something where ... And I'm also thinking of this from the perspective of business owner that was ... I was the one that designed the website, to build the websites and made all the changes to the website for the clients and stuff like that. And growing my business, I realize very quickly that at some point in time, I cannot do all of those things, I have to hire a team to fall back and do those things.

Jay: Yep.

Marcus: And I don't necessarily want you to answer that, but I would like you to consider that you keep that manufacturing here in Mobile.

Jay: Yeah. Yeah.

Marcus: If at all possible.

Jay: Definitely. That was something that I was talking to your partner about, before you came back over with ... Man, it's getting to be a little bit, I'm not gonna say overwhelming, but it's filling up my cup big time, you know having-

Marcus: No, that's good news. You remember that.

Jay: Yeah. Yeah. It is.

Marcus: It's always these other business centers ... It's always kind of a daunting thing when you get to the precipice and you see like, "The next step is a big step. It's my wife leaving her job and coming to do this full time." "Do I really believe in myself enough that I can do this." In your case, your wife leaving.

Jay: Right.

Marcus: My wife would never leave and come and work with this. She would kill me before she will do that. But I think that is a big step, but I would just like to say that, "Yes you can" do that. I've been there before, hiring my first employee. They always say hiring you first employee is the hardest. And that person being your wife, makes much more difficult.

Jay: Right. Right.

Marcus: At the same time, jobs are easier to find, and ideas that are good and businesses that are good, and that people want or not. So if you got something like, capitalize on it. Anyway.

Marcus: If you were talking to someone that wanted to get started running their own business, what's the one bit of wisdom that you would impart to them?

Jay: Whatever you do, make it something that you're passionate about. If there's something that you don't care about and you just wanna make money for it, you're gonna burn out on it.

Marcus: Right.

Jay: It's gonna be times when you're gonna have to spend long, long late nights. And if you're not willing to put that in years ... If you're not willing to stay up past 12 or get up at 5 am or whatever it is, don't even start it. Don't even start it. Because I hate to start and stop. I used to have a bad habit of that, back when I was younger sometimes starting something, it'll be a little tough, and I'll stop it. You know what I mean?

Jay: But if I stop doing this, I'm not gonna be able to feed my family. You know what I mean? So I gotta keep going. I gotta keep that passion. And one thing about it, sometimes it gets ... Your like, "Man, I'm tired of sewing." But on that Friday or on that Saturday or whenever it is, I do my next event, or I go in and I get to shake all these peoples hands and smile and talk to people and do everything. I'm like, "That's why I do this." "That's why I have this passion."

Marcus: Because of affirmation your getting from your clientele.

Jay: Right. Right.

Marcus: Yeah. Now slowly you're still doing those in person event, could it be very easy? I know we were talking earlier, and I'll get you to give all your information about where people can buy your products at the end of the podcast. But you were mentioning that you're using Shopify, which is an e-commerce platform that we use as well. And it would be very easy for you just to say, "Well I'm just gonna sell all my stuff online and do that through Face Book or through all these different mechanisms". But that fact you're actually meeting the clientele gives you feedback immediately of what products their liking and not liking.

Jay: Right. Right.

Marcus: And also gives you the positive affirmation that you're on the right track.

Jay: I'm a feet to the pavement kinda guy, you know what I mean? I'm like, "Look I gotta get out of here, I've gotta move these units, I've gotta find the customers, I've gotta go to them."

Marcus: Your a hustler, man.

Jay: Yeah. I'm a hustler. I got a customer that called me like, "Dude, I need you to come over to Eastern Shore, don't worry about, I'm gonna make it worth your while." I'm coning, you know what I mean?

Jay: I'm getting ready to do an event at Atlanta this weekend. I just did an event in Pensacola last weekend. I've done Gulf Port, I've done Biloxi, I've done Atlanta. I'm going to Dallas later on this year.

Marcus: Nice.

Jay: Going to Montgomery, Birmingham, all these different places. Traveling man, and that's what I love to see that people love my stuff. I really want to take over the Gulf Coast with my ties. With my ties and my car.

Marcus: You're shooting to well, man. There's definitely ... For what it's worth, if you see me on the street and I look like a slob, don't judge me. But I'm very much grew up reading GQ and Details magazine and all those things. I didn't have any money, so I came up with kinda my own way of dressing and style and stuff like that. Like a lot of us do when we don't have two nickels to rub together. As a matter of fact, at 40 years old I just got my first pair of Air Jordan's.

Jay: There ya go.

Marcus: So I know that the south has its own kind of style, if you will. We're not afraid to wear, like some guys, aren't afraid of wearing colorful colors or stuff like that.

Jay: Right. Right

Marcus: I know some are bow ties. You don't see ... Being from DC, I didn't see many people wearing bow ties. But a body of ours, Todd Grear, I don't know if you know, do you know Todd.

Jay: I don't.

Marcus: He might become your best customer after this-

Jay: Okay. Okay-

Marcus: There's not a day that goes by that's he's not wearing a bow tie.

Jay: Holler at me, Todd.

Marcus: So we'll definitely have to get you guys hooked up. 'Cause he is absolutely passionate about bow ties. But if you look to the business world, who's one person that motivates your? Is there an individual that you kinda look to when your like, "Man, that person's got it together."

Jay: Man, my dad. I can't really speak on someone. I'm not a person that really looks up to many celebrities and all that stuff. 'Cause I don't know these people personally. They may show you one thing on the camera, and then you go buy in clothes store, and it's a totally different person. But man, my dad he's still-

Marcus: He's still cutting hair?

Jay: Yeah. Yeah. He's probably working at the house today. He takes off Wednesdays and Saturdays sometimes, and Sundays, and Mondays off. And I love that aspects of it being able to work when you want to. But you gotta go to work. But my dad, he's just showed me so much hard work and integrity and being honest, being a great business person. He would be my person. And if I had to name another person, I wouldn't say he was, well I guess you can say a businessman, its a rapper guy name Nipsey Hussel.

Marcus: Okay.

Jay: And man, he's one of the ... You ever listen to someone and they just really give you that motivation like, "Okay, I'm gonna get up and I'm gonna grind hard and just keep going and going and going." Kinda like one of those guys if you were a big gym buff, you'll probably listening to him while you're working out-

Marcus: Pumped up.

Jay: Yeah, he just gets me pumped up, man. It would have to be those two.

Marcus: I have to look him up.

Jay: Yeah.

Marcus: That's my taste, so. Are there any books, I've got a list here so you got to choose? Any books, podcasts, people, or organizations that have been helpful in moving you forward. And I'm gonna say besides Capalile?

Jay: First the Bible, second is a book by Napoleon Hill call Thinking and Grow Rich, and then I'll have to say my family backing.

Marcus: And I believe there's people that believe in you.

Jay: Yeah.

Marcus: It's amazing how important that is. And one of things that were kind of getting the sense after ... We're near one hundred of these, I would think if not over, Jared's kind of giving me those eyes, he has no clue. But we've done quite a number of these podcasts, and there's some things that you can do after doing a number of these. And that's that people are hard, hiring people, working with people, selling to people, you know that kind of thing. People are hard. And the other is just that family hand having the backing of your family is extremely important. Especially when you're getting starting. 'Cause you may not have the buy-in of a community. Or you may not have a huge clientele soon.

Marcus: Now what's the most important think you've learn about running a business?

Jay: Staying focus and staying diligent, you know what I mean? And giving it its appropriate time. Sometimes you can say, "Okay, I've worked hard enough for the day." And call it quits, but that may not be enough. Just staying on track with what's trending, that's a big thing. You gotta realize what's going on in the market. In my line of business I've gotta figure out what events do I need to be out, how many people are gonna be there, what was the success for, and how many times have you had this event? Do you have any more male vendors?

Jay: So it's finding your lane and staying in your lane. I guess that's a good way to sum that up. It's finding your lane and, "Okay, this is gonna be my lane. And I can speed in it and I can do whatever I want to do in my lane." And that's how I feel.

Jay: A lot of events I go to, I'm one of the only male vendors there.

Marcus: Yeah.

Jay: So I've got a huge lane there, and I cater strictly to the males. I mean I have a lot of ladies that buy bowties too, and a lot of my ladies are my ones that spend the money.

Marcus: 'Cause they want their guys to look sharp.

Jay: Exactly.

Marcus: Yeah.

Jay: But I'm gonna cater to my males to the fashion part of it and I'm gonna stay in my lane and I'm gonna do everything I can to maximize that lane. I want my lane to be like the Autobahn for me. You know what I mean?

Marcus: Yeah.

Jay: I'm gonna max it out.

Marcus: You know that's really cool.

Jay: Yes, sir.

Marcus: Now, I ask this question and it's very specific, so how do you like to unwind?

Jay: Meaning?

Marcus: Just, how do you like to relax?

Jay: Man, I like to-

Marcus: I used to ask what do people do in their free time and everybody laughed at me like, "Free time? Ha ha, what's that?" Everybody has to unwind every once in awhile-

Jay: Man, I like to-

Marcus: What do you like to-

Jay: I spend a lot of time with my daughter. I like to kick back, drink that glass of wine, play some chess.

Marcus: Yeah. He unwinds by playing chess.

Jay: If you ask my wife, if I'm not in the house or something like that, I'm probably sitting on the back porch drinking my glass of wine and playing a game of chess. Something like that.

Marcus: That's cool.

Jay: I like to think, I like to keep my mind sharp. I try my best not to waste time.

Marcus: Yeah.

Jay: But.

Marcus: But at some point in time every business owner needs to step away.

Jay: And how can I forget, I'm a big fisher. I love fishing.

Marcus: Very cool.

Jay: I like ... if I got a free day out of the week-

Marcus: You're gonna-

Jay: I'm gonna try to sneak over to [crosstalk 00:25:13]

Marcus: You've got a secret fishing hole you wanna tell me about?

Jay: I do.

Marcus: We won't give it up, we won't give it up.

Jay: Yeah, I do.

Marcus: Now, where can people find you? Give us your Facebook page, website, anything you wanna give them as far as how they can get in touch with you or buy your product.

Jay: You can connect to me personally on Facebook via Jay Hendrix, that's my Facebook name. I have a lot of people send me messages just to ask me about my stuff, where I'm gonna be. You can also check out my Facebook page, which I really need to get more active on. That's gonna be at Knotted Handcrafted Bowties. You can look me up on Instagram under Knotted Handcrafted Bowties as well. And you can find me every second Friday at ArtWalk, you can find me on most, every now and then, Saturdays at the Market in the Square, Saturday mornings. That's from 7:30-8:00 to noon. You can find me at The Pillars on, I believe, the second Sundays, from 12 to 4.

Marcus: Yeah, Heather's got something really cool going on there.

Jay: Yes, sir. You can find me at any kind of craft shows, big events. The Mobile Junior League is gonna have their annual jubilee at the convention center in November, it's gonna be a big shopping event, a lot of local craftsmen and people from out of town coming out as vendors. It'll be a great event and great time to catch me there too if you're shopping for the holidays. And you can always shoot me a text, shoot me an email, I'll send you everything I've got in stock. My website's www.knottedhandcraftedbowties.com.

Jay: It's hard sometimes to keep my website as up to date because I do a lot of traveling and as you know taking pictures and doing inventory sometimes can fall by the wayside when I'm moving a lot of products in person. But if you really wanna get my stuff and see something online, it may say out of stock, but I probably may just have it in if you just give me a call or let me know.

Marcus: Awesome. Well I wanna thank you for coming on the podcast. To wrap up, any final thoughts or comments you'd like to share?

Jay: Don't forget to check me out also at sockgamemobile.com. That's my sock company, we have a lot of, I guess you'd call, happy socks, at a much more affordable price though. We're doing 6.99 on the website, but sometimes you catch me in person I have them for five bucks. You can't really beat that for a set of nice socks.

Marcus: Nice.

Jay: Just holler at me guys. We do customs, we do things for proms, social groups, church organizations, any kind of biz organizations, weddings, we'll get you guys knotted so our motto is, "Do or do not."

Marcus: You gotta get some blue fish bowties and blue fish socks or something, that would be fun. Well, Jay, I appreciate your willingness to sit with me and share your journey as a business owner and entrepreneur it's been great talking with you man.

Jay: Awesome. Thanks, Marcus.

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