During Noah Marsh’s junior homecoming, he showed up to his pictures wearing his new, handmade wooden bow tie. Two weeks prior to homecoming, Marsh designed a model of his wooden bow ties which he intended to just be something for him, with a couple of bow ties he could wear each day of the week. However, when he showed up to homecoming with his handmade bow tie, everyone instantly wanted in on the new fashion trend.
“Some of the parents of the girls in my homecoming group saw my bow tie and immediately asked if I could make them some as gifts for Christmas,” Marsh said.
By the end of December, Marsh had sold 15 wooden bow ties. The business, now called Against the Grain Bow Ties, continued to grow. By April of 2012, Against the Grain Bow Ties was featured on a Bravo fashion special, which quickly gained AGBT more exposure. Marsh was getting ready for school one morning when he noticed his AGBT Facebook page had tripled its likes and had 114 unread messages.
“My first thought was ‘ok what Russian hacker is spamming me’,” Marsh said. “But then I started reading through the messages and saw they were all talking about some Bravo show they had seen me on.”
Because of the success he’s had at high school with his business, Marsh will be continuing his business after he graduates. AGBT will be moving, with Marsh, to Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
Marsh has found a small workspace five minutes off campus, which he plans to rent in order to continue his business.
“It’s similar to paying a monthly fee at a gym, but instead of paying to use workout equipment, you pay to use power tools,” Marsh said.
Marsh considers AGBT to be his hobby, with school still being his main job, so he hopes to hire a small student workforce to help fill his orders while he keeps up with his school work.
According to Marsh, he owes the growth and expansion of his company to the East facilities. With the help machinery in the wood shop, his wood shop teacher, Shabon Scott, and his marketing teacher, Mercedes Rasmussen, Marsh has been able to grow AGBT.
“Some of the teachers here are on my ‘advisory board,’ not to mention the great tech program and machinery we have here,” Marsh said. “It really makes me so thankful I get to go to East.”
Against the Grain Bow Ties has proven to be successful in Kansas City, but with about 50 percent of his orders coming from online, Marsh doesn’t see any problem in moving the business to Des Moines.
“The mobility of this business is possible. It’s not like it’s just grounded in the Kansas City area,” Marsh said. “I do hope that it will stay mobile over the next four years.”