CONVERSATION with Burks & Bailey

As a student and advocate of the makers movement, I’m excited to launch the Craft Brand Theory™ blog with an insightful conversation with Phillip Terril, Co-Founder of Burks & Bailey. I was introduced to Phillip about eight months ago by a mutual friend around the time the Craft Brand Theory™ concept became a fully flushed out idea. Although its trendy now for companies to reference terms like craft, provenance and quality loosely, it was refreshing connecting with a young entrepreneur providing a genuine story of craftmanship, passion, and skill. He describes Burks & Bailey as “a collision of a straight-laced businessman and free-spirit creating a brand that embodies exquisite taste, luxurious palettes and refreshing colors that illuminate wardrobes.” I can certainly speak intuitively and with full confidence in saying that Burks & Bailey is definitely one company destined for breakthrough success. I hope that you appreciate this inaugural interview with our friend Phillip Terrill as he takes us into the world of Burks & Bailey. Enjoy!

Craft Brand Theory™:

At Craft Brand Theory™ we are not only fascinated with the creation process and philosophy, we enjoy hearing about that defining moment when the individual or group of individuals decide to commit to their craft. What was that defining moment(s) that motivated you to start the Burks & Bailey Company and offer your product to the public?

Burks & Bailey:

First, thank you to Craft Brand Theory™ for providing Burks & Bailey the tremendous opportunity to share our story. This is an amazing platform and I hope that we provide some incredible insight into the fabric, story and inspiration behind Burks & Bailey! Our team is truly excited about the direction and growth of the brand. To get started, that defining moment was three years ago when we (John and I) both realized we had an incredible perspective on what was visually stimulating to us from a fashion standpoint. Specifically, we were so accustomed to wearing traditional patterns and common print such as polka dots, stripes, solids, etc. in our neck wear specifically bow ties and instead wanted to express our personality in one symbolic piece that ultimately birthed Burks & Bailey.

Craft Brand Theory™

How important is being “MADE IN AMERICA” to your brand’s philosophy?

Burks & Bailey:

“Made in America” is HUGE for our brand. We really believe that we can have a luxurious brand that is crafted right here in the USA. Our whole thought process was that if we are going to have something that we put our family names behind it needs to be created here just like we were. So we birthed our brand right here in USA and partnered with a manufacturer in Portland, Oregon to make beautiful, hand made ties for the Burks & Bailey brand.

Craft Brand Theory™:

How did you and your partner meet and what led to the collaboration?

Burks & Bailey:

John (Bailey) and I actually met in undergrad at Tuskegee University about five (5) years ago. The last two years or so we were roommates, so we were able to connect creatively and away from the hustle and bustle trying to build our vision and make sure we fulfilled our initial purpose of getting our degrees. So that collaboration allowed us to learn about each other as men and human beings in a more intimate, precise and comfortable way which lead to both sides exposing our beliefs, our visions, our life momentum, strengths and challenges, inspirations, style and perspective on our culture. So it really became a beautiful conversation that evolved into an important thread to the fabric within the development of Burks & Bailey.

Craft Brand Theory™:

Growing up did you have any particular style inspirations that may have served as a muse for your design identity?

Burks & Bailey:

When I was growing up in Minneapolis, I had more influence and exposure to older folks actually from my hometown like Next, Mint Condition, and Prince and still had early exposure to Ralph Lauren, and other notable fashion designers. The more direct exposure and impact to my particular style was from my father who had an amazing appetite for all things gentlemanly. Whether it was extremely colorful and “loud” socks that illustrated Taxicabs or what seemed to be a Jackson Pollack painting on his ankles to beautiful bow ties that I learned at an early age to appreciate. There was a complexity to his look that I connected to and it became the foundation to how I built my own style. From that foundation, I became exposed to more tailored, streamlined and precise pairings of color and textures that became my own style. To top that off, I had one additional inspiration from my great-grandfather who owned a supper club on the river in Minneapolis. He was my modern-day Sinatra from his Kangol hat, tailored suits, fancy cars and everything else. He was the epitome of what I wanted to be as a young entrepreneur in the 21st century. So I mixed it all up together and added that flavor to Burks & Bailey.

JACQUELINE

Craft Brand Theory™:

Since you and your partner are from Minneapolis and Joliet respectively. How has your Midwest and Southern roots influenced your style philosophy and expression?

Burks & Bailey:

I love being from the Midwest because we have a different culture that is more comfortable and welcoming which blends nicely to what we were exposed to while being immersed in the South. Being from Minneapolis and Joliet, you are forced into being exposed to many inspirations such as the natural elements, the four seasons, diverse people and a blue-collar work ethic. So the blending of that with the charm and warmth of the Southern culture was perfect! The brand was able to explore the beauty in trying to mesh the two together, which really became an opportunity to merge natural elements with a soulful silhouette in the form of bow ties. The colors are bold yet derived from integral pieces of who we are individually and where we have come from collectively. The unique thread to the fusion of the Midwest and Southern roots’ influence is that both cultures have grown immensely and we have never detached ourselves from those roots. We simply took the most relevant and unique components and built them into the foundation of Burks & Bailey. So now that blue-collar mentality created the luxury that exudes from our brand and that is the true influencer behind the Burks & Bailey philosophy that you can work hard towards something and build, but never forget what got you to that moment. That attitude, we really additionally tribute to our mothers and support systems that have really been an integral part of this journey the entire way as we have built Burks & Bailey.

Craft Brand Theory™:

How intimately involved are you with the product cycle from concept to retail?

Burks & Baileys:

We are involved in every step of the process! That was a must for our team so we could really understand the journey that our product takes during its evolution into a Burks & Bailey bow tie. Our manufacturing partner is tremendous and completely dedicated to ensuring that each tie is hand-made with precision and the utmost love. That is exactly how we approached the detail in the smallest yet most critical element of the brand, our logo. We want something that had several meanings too based on our exposure. In addition, we focused on the packaging to be reflective of our taste and to not be overdone or overshadow the product, but to provide an immediate feeling to our consumer partners that this looks great before I open the box. The subtle detail in having the packaging closure to be a ribbon-tied bow is perfect with the bow tie resting elegantly on soft, black paper to really add more focus to the colorful array within the collection. So we really focused and deployed an immense amount of concentration to the elements leading to the consumer receiving the product, which ultimately grants Burks & Bailey access to the emotional connection, that consumer made while traveling through our site and ultimately making a purchase. Lastly, we focused on ensuring we had tremendous fulfillment when orders are placed so customers receive their Burks & Bailey knot in a timely fashion. Overall, we touch every component of the brand and the process which makes it that much more authentic and luxurious. The name Burks & Bailey means more than products, its our promise to always represent our family names in the utmost manner and deliver an unspoken guarantee to our consumers that because our names our associated to the brand we personally make the extra effort to deliver a high-quality lifestyle and experience.

Craft Brand Theory™:

How do you select the materials you use?

Burks & Bailey:

For this collection and our invitation to the brand, we selected materials that we personally enjoyed and would honestly wear ourselves. We wanted to make sure the fabrics were light (in terms of weight) that they were easy to manage. In addition, we wanted the products to mesh well with what consumers wear in the summer months such as the 100% Cotton and 100% Linen that we used in 95 percent of our ties. In addition, we incorporated a Liberty of London fabric that is beautiful and extremely delicate to the touch blending well with the linen for that particular knot (The Dream). When it came to fastening and adjusting the tie, we want to provide function with the buttons, as that is a common gesture when people get dressed given buttons on shirts. So having the Polyester Matte buttons was a perfect final touch for the products. Finally, we wanted to have very classic labels that have the written name of the brand in a luxury Damask finish so we stayed high end and true to the culture we were targeting. As we look forward to our next collection, we will be introducing other textures and depth to the brand such as Lace, Suede, Leather, Silk and Tweed which will be inspired from artistic depiction’s of the Harlem Renaissance’s famed artist, Jacob Lawrence.

Craft Brand Theory™:

Are these materials difficult to work with?

Burks & Bailey:

For the first collection we launched under Burks & Bailey, the fabrics separately are not difficult to manage and control. The challenge comes when fusing two different fabrics and textures together to create this vision of multiple fabrics together to create one knot. We had early challenges in realizing our concept of wanting to have a complete, high-end statement piece that stayed fluid during the tying process. We had to identify the most optimal solution to reduce multiple cuts in the fabrics and reduce the production time of the hand-sewn process. The result of overcoming those early onset challenges was beautiful because now we have launched Burks & Bailey with all-important elements we wanted in the brand executed.

BBChairCigar

Craft Brand Theory™:

Do you have prior experience within the fashion and apparel industry?

Burks & Bailey:

Our team has no traditional experience in the industry, but we have an incredible viewpoint into what we believe our culture is seeking. With that, we tried to build our network and ask questions to folks who did have that experience so we wouldn’t over-do the brand. There was minimal exposure at early stages when I worked at Macy’s and John with Banana Republic. So we had an idea of trends, buying, consumer purchasing cycles, materials based on seasons, etc. but it was never honed in with Burks & Bailey. This brand was organic in its development and we really took  “gut” approach to crafting the brand. In doing so, we are on an incredible, ever-evolving journey to continue to build the brand and connect our product to the public.

Craft Brand Theory™:

The color palette and unique patterns are quite impressive. What inspires you from a creative perspective?

Burks & Bailey:

Really we wanted to take that moment in the process to provide consumers the opportunity to express WHO they are and what they FEEL through the Burks & Bailey brand. Our perspective is fused with John’s global excursions whether to Paris, London, Costa Rica or China to my own immense intrigue in historical elements of our society and culture. This perspective is extremely refined and derived from patience – meaning we never have taken ourselves to serious where we miss the small things that are so beautiful and full of purpose. The colors are really a transparent reflection of our personalities through various patterns. In addition, there are fundamental elements in each tie that represent a piece of our life journey or interests. The two that were the most critical are the ties we named after our mothers (The Jacqueline and The Suzanne) in which the colors and patterns reflect their impact on each of us – so we honored that in the knots. Overall, we wanted to provide a balance of what was bolder and what was not so dramatic in the patterns to capture more of the marketplace. In doing so, we didn’t want to yield to quality, precision or brand equity. I think everything turned out quite well in that regard!

Craft Brand Theory™:

Why did you decide to go-to-market exclusively with bow ties?

Burks & Bailey:

That decision was really based on two things: capacity and the long-term perspective of the brand. We didn’t want to flood the market with multiple layers of products until we truly confirmed that our design appetite was appreciated in one form that is bow ties. That is not to say we have not began to develop product extensions, but we are very meticulous and intentional in our approach and want to stay true to the overall vision that we have for the brand.

Craft Brand Theory™:

Why do you think bow ties have remained the classic defining piece for the proverbial distinguished gentleman?

Burks & Bailey:

Bow ties have a rare quality that most other accessories will never possess. Dating back all the way to the 17th Century when cravats were the staple then developing into what we commonly refer to as a bow tie now illustrates sophistication and an unspoken strength for the wearer. I think Warren St. John (New York Times) said it best regarding bow ties – “To its devotees the bow tie suggests iconoclasm of an Old World sort, a fusty adherence to a contrarian point of view. The bow tie hints at intellectualism, real or feigned, and sometimes suggests technical acumen, perhaps because it is so hard to tie…but perhaps most of all, wearing a bow tie is a way of broadcasting an aggressive lack of concern for what other people think”. That is a perfect illustration of what bow ties represent in our culture and from Burks & Bailey’s perspective. In society as I have viewed it, the traditional necktie meets the status-quo, but the bow-tie is symbolically an act of defiance to the social norm rooted in the beautiful truths of self-expression and the re-establishment of the gentleman. Bow ties unconsciously make your posture more erect, defined, your shoulders tilt a little further back and your presence demands a hint of attention. Bow ties are that game-changer, that conversation, that art-piece for the gentleman who is confident enough to break out of the monotone world and live bolder. That’s Burks & Bailey!!

Craft Brand Theory™:

How have you been getting the word out about Burks and Bailey?

Burks & Bailey:

We have taken an organic approach to spreading the word, as we wanted the brand to remain in its own right catered to a particular audience of folks. We wanted to have a selection that spread across several demographics and didn’t exclude anyone. Even at the price, we are right on point with being In the luxury range without breaking the bank like some of our competitors and you still get a unique piece that you can wear in so many environments and pair it well with your own style. In addition, we established a partnership with Modern Luxury specifically in the Atlanta market to really push the brand. This partnership has allowed our brand to receive great placement in there various magazines that include The Men’s Book, The Atlantan and Jezebel in both the print and digital platforms. So this has been an incredible alignment for the brand in such an early stage! Also, we are taking our brand viral with social media content and allowing consumers to see the brands growth and be apart of the movement that is Burks & Bailey.

Craft Brand Theory™:

Where can the readers purchase and learn more about your brand?

Burks & Bailey:

Readers can indulge in our current Burks & Bailey collection at www.burksandbailey.com.

Craft Brand Theory™:

Are there any valuable lessons that you’ve learned so far that you can share with the craft brand community considering offering their goods to the public?

Burks & Bailey:

There are three valuable points that have been re-enforced constantly on this continued journey.

    • LIVE BOLD and relentlessly pursue what your intended mission is and do whatever is necessary to bring your dream/vision to fruition
    • LOOK DIFFERENT and find what is unique to society, attacks the status-quo and provides you confidence to stamp your personal name and promise to whatever you do to immediately add value. Tell the story and be authentic in your messaging!
    • WHY KNOT just go after your desires infuses your passions and talent, build a foundation on authentic principles and just take a gigantic leap of faith! That is the real risk and the ultimate reward once everything comes together!

Craft Brand Theory™:

Thank you for taking time to share your story with us. Much success and continued inspiration.

 

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