The Business Of Neckwear
When he was growing up, Efferem Williams would get a new suit each Easter.
Williams would wear that suit to church each Sunday for a year.
"What made it different would be the ties," he said.
When it came to ties, Williams took his cue from an older cousin, Vernon Franklin, who was nicknamed GQ. His splendid collection of ties contrasted sharply with the wide, loud, inappropriate ties usually worn by the church deacons.
That taught Williams to appreciate what a difference the right tie could make.
By the age of 10, ties had become his "passion." He even took to wearing them to school each day, earning the nickname "Church Boy."
Today Williams, 38, who works as an administrator at the University of Florida's Health Sciences Center in Jacksonville, has translated that passion into a business.
In partnership with Franklin, who lives in Charleston where they both grew up, Williams launched Knotacess in 2004.
Twice a year he helps design 12 new ties. Then he arranges for the ties, made of silk, to be manufactured in China, producing about 250 of each design.
They sell the ties through the company Web site, www.knotacess.com, through a handful of retail stores across the Southeast and at various trade shows. The ties generally range in price from $45 to $65.
"Our goal is to be very private and very exquisite," said Williams, whose wife, Valarie, is a music teacher.
With help from his kids, Joycelyn, 11, and Joshua, 7, he gives a name to each tie.
On the Web site, you'll find Brown Sugar, Lemon Drop, Charleston Lime, Boardroom, Dreamsickle, Gala and Zebra among many others.
Williams has started an affiliated nonprofit, Knots4Kids that offers programs to teach kids about healthy etiquette, how to manage money and how to dress. Of course learning to tie a perfect knot is part of the process.
He offers instructions on how to tie three styles of knot for the standard tie, Windsor, half-Windsor and four-in-hand. His personal preference is the Windsor, a broad, symmetrical knot named for Edward VII, England's king in the first decade of the 20th century.
But even more than a regular tie with a Windsor knot, Williams likes bow ties, which he generally wears twice a week.
"A tie can say a lot about your personality," he noted.
Political leaders often wear gold ties, which exude authority, he said. Blue ties can portray warmth and compassion, green ties are peaceful.
"My tie is one of the things that makes me who I am," he said.
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