November 29, 2011

Brand Profile: Collared Greens

I recently came across Collared Greens while looking for ties for the BF. Their mission and story is unique and powerful, illustrating their passion to provide great products, express their love for the outdoors and the environment, and get others to do the same.
Although they offer women's polos, clutches, men's shirts and belts, I'm particularly drawn to their ties.
You may have caught on by now, I have a slight obsession with ties; ironic considering BF rarely wears them, however I just feel a sort of southern comfort from the gentile idea (that, and I had a Communications Professor in college who compared writing to tying a bow-tie, and it's stuck).
Collared Greens Silk-woven, American made ties are as plain or vibrant as you'd like! Some of the ones that stuck out to me are:

(This one reminds me of Purdue!)

Randolph "Randy" Ashton was kind enough to take the time to talk with me recently about how he got started and what led to the launch of his company. 

When did you first decide to start your company?

About three years ago, Randy came up with the idea while working on a photography book. Now they’re at 85 retailers. “Sales are picking up and we’re just trying to keep up with demand.” After starting the company in SunValley, ID, they’ve moved to High Point, NC to be closer to their retailers and manufactures. When asked why they created the company, Randy had this to say, “We created this to raise money for the environment and create jobs in America. It’s our generation’s responsibility to create jobs here and bring this country back.”

Check out Randy's Photograph books here!
What is your inspiration?
“The inspiration is really to make nice quality product that makes a man look sharp. In terms of the environment, I was working on that Atlantic Salmon book. I was sitting in the woods waiting for the light to be just right to take the pictures, and came up with the idea for a company that takes into account.”

Where did you first develop your style?
“We learned our style from our parents and the institutions of the schools we went to. I think what really inspires us is American made products. Patagonia, LL Bean, etc. We’re just trying to create classic American made products for our generation. Our favorite things are to be in the middle of the river fly fishing, biking, in the outdoors, but we grew up in coat ties and we wanted to provide a mix between those.”

“ The first generation of polo shirts were made in Florida, and the second were made by a ton of awesome sewers in Idaho. The third generation, our latest, is coming from cotton grown and made in North Carolina. We’re all about supporting American businesses.”

Randy went to The Gunnery and Jeremy went to Ravenscroft, though they originally met through Hampton Sidney College (one of the last all male schools in the country), and met playing Lacrosse for a year. They kept in touch over the years, and Randy was working on Collared Greens and Jeremy wanted to move out west. So they’ve been working together to grow the brand ever since. Their latest project is making the official George Bush tie for the George Bush Library.

What do you hope your products will convey about yourself and your style?
“I hope the products convey ‘Not only am I successful, but I also care about our environment and our country’.” Successful, American Made, and environmentally friendly.

What has been the hardest thing about starting your own business?
“It’s really managing the back end of the business. I think the easy part, for me, is getting out there and meeting people and introducing the brand. I was a photographer and love to show people our products. But the hard part is the financing making sure we don’t go over budget.

Another really tough thing is finding American manufacturers. Back in the 80’s and 90’s there was so much outsourcing it killed towns that relied on those jobs. That’s why we moved to NC, because they were really struggling, and we wanted to help our country. I think that hopefully people will be asking more for American made products which will help our country overall. There aren’t that many companies that do American made, many won’t work with American manufactures, especially the big companies. We only have one product made in china, our hats, because there are no companies in the US that make them. All the manufacturers that make hats in the US make them for the military, because the government requires that.”

What other products do you hope to add to your portfolio?
“First and foremost we’re going to nail down the Carolina polo. Then we want to get into casual sportswear, button downs, khaki’s, shorts and slacks. We’d love to get into women’s wear, and we’ll look into it, but we might leave that up to the women because they know what they want possibly more than us guys.”

How would you define today's 'Preppy' and how do you think it compare to the preppy past decades?
“I don’t think much has changed. True preppies don’t use the word ‘preppy’. It’s beautiful that nothing has changed. It’s a lasting and classic. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, we’re just trying to add a little more color to it. We consider ourselves a classic American company. The colors, and who we are, it goes along with the word preppy.”

Is there anything else you'd like mentioned?
“The key point we’re trying to make is that Collared Greens isn’t about any one person, it’s about a generation. We’re very team oriented, GO USA.”

What to learn more about Collared Greens? Check them out here:
And as always, if you have any companies you think I should check out and feature on my blog. Please let me know!

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