The Burks & Bailey story was born in rural town Tuskegee, Alabama–home to curators, scientists, educators, and pilots. My business partner John Bailey and I were roommates for our last two and half years in undergrad. While focusing on our studies, we both had imaginations that were far beyond the boundaries of our current environment. Our dreams were larger than life but focused. John sketched our design ideas and I drafted the business plans.
Two more years had elapsed while we were planning the first official move in establishing our business. It is incredible to think back on the multiple trips we made to the fabric store grabbing bags of samples and matching them up with our elaborate designs. We were entrepreneurs at heart but knew that we would have to manage our daily jobs to fund the business idea we had been building for over two years. At this moment, we realized how much all the countless hours of studying and pushing ourselves in college would payoff. That summer in 2012, we moved towards what would become our first step in owning a business – we created Burks & Bailey.
From Vision To Tangible Product
Every brand in its infancy and development has a defining moment. The curators find that spark or that glimmer of possibility that opens the doors to new ideas and forward thinking. During a trip to Milwaukee, I was in a taxi headed back to catch a train. I was looking at the various stores on the route to the Amtrak station and happened to see a couture shop. I didn’t have time to write the number down so I memorized the shops number displayed in the front window. This was the shop that created the first sample of Burks & Bailey. It was the first movement our brand vision came to life as a tangible product. An incredible feeling to say the least! We knew then that we had a unique and refreshing product to offer the marketplace – it was just a matter of getting it to market.
From that moment, John and I continued to grind away and develop our brand. Whether that was finalizing the logo or developing our collateral materials – we started to see the pieces come together at a pace neither of us anticipated. The perspective you gain from the sweat equity you invest in building your own brand is priceless and from where you journeyed to date is incredible. I recall looking at the business plan we developed and seemingly tossing it into the trash because we knew that we would have to do more than just utilize a tradition business plan to get going.
Made in America
John and I both knew that our individual ambitions and talents made us great business partners. The ultimate indication was our shared Midwestern roots. John hailing from illinois and myself from Minneapolis, both have a “blue-collar” work ethic and are tremendously focused on anything we seek to accomplish. This same Midwestern philosophy and keeping Burks & Bailey “Made in America” was essential in the overall foundation of Burks & Bailey. We wanted those strong roots to be an important element proudly added to the fabric of our brand. Our focus was staying true to the classic, timeless sophistication that is the American gentleman and his bow tie.
It’s funny to remember how we were once so passionate about launching our brand that we were willing to make each tie by hand. However, we knew we had to be realistic about the workload and production timeline. So one morning around 2:00 AM, I searched Google for American Manufacturers and discovered Maker’s Row. This was in the very infancy and beginning stage of the platform. At first, we reached out to several manufacturers on the site and didn’t get the feel or response we wanted. But John and I knew what Burks & Bailey needed and we were determined to utilize the Maker’s Row platform to make it happen. After sending an email to a manufacturer and describing our vision, we finally set up our first call and knew that it would work out. With the most critical component of our supply chain onboard, we were ready to start producing samples. To this day since almost two years ago, we still work with the same manufacturer and are proudly Made in America.
Hard Work Pays Off
After finalizing our partnership with our Portland manufacturer and developing clarity on what our next steps would be, we rolled out Burks & Bailey. The growth and connections to date have been incredible with early partnerships with Modern Luxury Atlanta, Foundr Magazine, and features on NBA and TNT, among other great opportunities.
It is really is amazing how hard work pays off and what can result from constantly driving a vision to fruition. The key for Burks & Bailey was to live bold, look different, and say why knot? Thanks to Maker’s Row, their commitment to American manufacturing, and their platform, Burks & Bailey became a reality.
To the designers, dreamers, supporters, stylists, visionaries, and doers – keep going! The road and journey to entrepreneurship is paved on complete commitment and dedication before your vision materializes. Stick it out and do what you believe in.