Wouldn’t a quick nap feel great right about now? But if you don’t want to wake up with a keyboard imprint on your face, you’d better hope you have a Pillow Tie. That was the thought behind a unique gift idea that’s taken off this year: a handsome tie with a built-in, inflatable airbag that makes it into a pillow in seconds. Wholesaling for only $8 each (minimum order of 48), and retailing for $19.95, the Pillow Tie is the brainchild of Tom Bowen, who came up with the idea during a college entrepreneurship class.
“The class was known as an ‘Easy A’, Bowen said. “All you had to do was basically just read some books and come up with an idea that would make revenue.” But not having an idea right away, Bowen asked his older sister, who gave him what she humbly called, “My last great idea: you need to create an inflatable necktie.”
Bowen played around with some ideas and prototypes before approaching a plastics company in California to help him. Before long, he had a working model, and then sent it off to China to be produced, even as the clock ticked down on his class’s final days. “The professor kept saying it was a stupid idea,” Bowen said. But literally two hours before the team was due to present the final product in class, the final pieces arrived from China. “We put it together, presented our idea, and the professor was shocked,” Bowen said.
Bowen and his company have now hit their stride, marketing their product as a gift instead of “…just a tie.” Starting with five local stores in Salt Lake City, where they’re based, the Pillow Tie is now in some 50 outlets nationwide, many of them Hallmark stores. Available in more than 150 different colors and styles, the ties are named after family and friends. The “Kotter,” a handsome black and white style, is extremely popular, but the all-time best seller is the “Trent,” available in a classic combination of navy blue and lime green.
The full spectrum showing the colors and styles available, as well as a video from a local TV program demonstrating the ties, are available at pillowtie.com. For an order of 100 or more, Pillow Ties will also send along an informative “how-to” sign, and two illustrations for display purposes.
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