Celebrating the Preppy Lifestyle and it's sensibilities


We at the Preppy Times love a good looking bow tie.  That's why when I lucked up and found who I call "the princess of bow ties," Laura "xoelle," I had to get the word out.
I'm always looking for quality, obscure clothing items.  I'm also intrigued by the people who make them.....enter XOELLE.  What I like most about Laura is her quirkiness.  She has the type of personality that borders on genius.  Trust me, this lady is that good.  So much so that I've invited her to tell me all of the xoelle secrets.

The Preppy Times:  Xoelle, what's the basis behind the name?

Laura Xoelle: My name is Laura and in art school I started  writing it phonetically (elleayeyouareaye) to sign my paintings.  I got lazy and shortened it to Elle and when I started making bow ties I wanted to incorporate it somewhere.  I chose xoelle because xo is hugs and kisses and Elle is me, but it also is a completely unique name.

TPTThat IS very unique.  The readers like to know the person behind the products.  So can you tell a little about who xoelle is?

LXXOELLE  is me, Laura Plouzek, a 31 year old maker who lives in Pensacola, FL with a husband and 1 (almost 2!) kids.  In my pre-bow tie days I waited tables and taught high school art.  I like chocolate ganache, taking long walks, and all things vintage.  I'd rather make something than buy it and I would rather be too cold than too hot.

TPT I've seen your products and they're pretty awesome, but for the readers, what kinds of products do you sell?

LX:   I make bow ties out of vintage neckties and button down shirts.  I also make journals out of vintage books and board games.  I love using vintage materials because they come to me with a history and I pump a little bit of new life into them and then send them back out on into the world for more adventure.

TPT:  Bravo Laura.  Tell me how did you get started?

LX:   This is my favorite story!  I am a collector of vintage things and had been collecting vintage ties to give to my future husband.  I had dozens and when I met the man that I would marry, he was wearing a bow tie (it's actually what caught my eye!).  So shortly after we tied the knot I converted all of my vintage ties to bow ties for him, and started listing some on Etsy just to see how they would do - they did outstanding!

TPTOh how romantic.  Your products, especially your bow ties are a preppy mans dream.  Why 

LX:    The world needs more bow ties.

TPTCheers to that.  What should one look for in a tie in terms of quality?

LX:   I have several tips for gents looking for ties.  First, learn to tie a bow tie.  The only way to go with a bow tie is to tie it yourself.  Second, make sure that the bow tie you're looking at is cut on the bias, this means that the fabric has been cut at a 45 degree angle and makes it easier to tie.  You should be able to see the pattern of the tie on a diagonal.  Third, feel the material.  You can feel quality in the weight and texture of fabrics.

TPTWhat distinguishes your ties from other tie makers?

LXMost importantly my bow ties are made from vintage and used materials so they retain a history and they are Eco friendly.  All of my bow ties are made with love by my own two hands and they are made either one of a kind, or in super small batches.  They are also packaged in an awesome manner, but that is a treat for my customers.

TPTWell...I'm jealous now.  Tell me what's your inspiration?

LXI'm inspired by modern design and bright colors.  I can't get enough of bright plaids right now.  I also love retro stripes in browns and blues.  They remind me of my Dad who worked as an ice cream distributor when I was a kid.  In fact, the awesome men in my life have inspired a new line of bow ties that will be coming out this fall!

TPTWhat types of materials are your favorites to work with?

LXI love woven silk and polyester.  I also love working with cotton.  Printed silk is my least favorite.

TPTVineyard Vines is known for very different ties.  If someone wants a custom made product that's outlandish, do you accommodate?

LXOf course!  I've made bow ties from all kinds of things.  Shorts, Capri's, wool suits and love to try new materials.  I can also screen print designs onto the fabric so that adds a whole extra level of customization.

TPTLet's say someone needs ties for a wedding party.  Do you handle bulk shipments?

LXDefinitely, I also make custom neckties for wedding parties on a special order basis.  I love being a part of weddings and can either track down fabric to make all of the ties the same, or can gather a selection of vintage ties and shirts to make the ties out of so that each member of the wedding party has a coordinating, but unique, pattern.  I offer quantity discounts and complementary personalized tags.

TPTWhat about women.  Do you have products for women?  If not do you foresee something in the future?

LXI used to make hostess aprons out of vintage materials, but stopped to focus on the bow ties.  I may add them back into the shop at some point.  I have sold bow ties to women and my journals are primarily sold to women

TPTSpeaking of journals, what got you into that market?

LXI am an avid journaler having written in a daily journal since I was 13 years old, so I go through journals quite quickly.  This also makes me very picky about my journals.  So I started making my own, knowing that I could pay for the industrial equipment to make them if I could make them to sell.  They are as much fun as the bow ties to make since they are also made with vintage and used materials.  Half of my job is thrift shopping, hunting for discarded books, and sorting through vintage neckties, it's awesome!

TPTDo you have any of your work in any boutiques or department stores?  If so where can they be purchased?

LXCurrently my work is for sale in my etsy shop and sold at White Elephant Vintage in Toronto, Canada.  I also at OAK Boston in Boston, MA, and locally here in Pensacola Fl. at the Palafox Farmer's Market every Saturday.

TPTSpeaking of department stores, with so many small businesses being downsized or muscled out by big retail corporations who outsource; what motivates you to keep making your products?

LXIntegrity.  There is a real (and growing) demand for products that are not mass produced and that are unique and straight from the maker.  I have been fortunate enough to have people that value these things as my customers and they cheer me on. My little business has been successful, and that is always motivating.

TPTWell I wish for your business to flourish for as long as you want.  If you weren't doing what you're doing now, what would you be doing?

LXTeaching high school art, waiting tables, owning a bakery or making something else.

TPTI'm just happy you're making the products that you make.  I think it's an original and refreshing idea.  O. k. last question, I always have to ask, JoAnn Fabrics or Michaels?

LXThrift stores!  But I do visit both JoAnn and Michaels often.  JoAnn at least four times as often.

At the end of this interview Laura had this to add - Thanks so much again.  I've   been fortunate to not only have great customers, but also people that have pushed me along by featuring me like this.  I really appreciate it.How gracious is that.  You know I enjoy this little past time activity.  And I'll tell you this, it's I who feels fortunate to meet such wonderful and talented people.  I just wish I could do more.  
People, we really do have an obligation to support those who enrich our lives and celebrate who we are.  Trust me, I get it.  I love me some Ralph Lauren, Lilly Pulitzer, Brooks and J Press to name a few.  but remember THEY all started just as these fine people have..........with a dream.  Let's support them too.
O.k. I'm officially stepping off my soapbox.

Laura's Bow Ties and Journals can be purchased at the following places:

Here's some more samples of her work.

See you guys soon.

Posted By O. Cavanaugh

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