Sunday, February 16, 2003

Tie guy works on building complete outfit

Catching up

By Joy Kraft
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo] Corwyn Thomas of Springdale and business partner Diana Matthew of Mason show off some ties. They've moved from hotel shows to a Web site and kiosks.
(Mike Simons photo)
| ZOOM |
Corwyn Thomas has big dreams for a haberdashery.

It started two years ago as a brainstorming idea in a business course at Word of Deliverance Ministries for the World in Forest Park. Step by entrepreneurial step, it's becoming reality, though what he refers to as an "inline store" isn't quite in sight.

We first met Thomas in September when he was selling his handsome silk ties ($45 and up) through hotel shows with brainstorming partner Diana Matthew, originally from St. Thomas, the Virgin Islands.

But his interest in clothing started as a 10-year-old helping his dad put outfits together. "I was allowed to pick out the ties and choose the colors," he says. "My dad's guideline was, `The tie's the centerpiece.'"

His business card reads "Corwyn Apparel, the dimple makes the difference."

Worked at P&G

With his knack for color and coordination, designing ties seemed natural for the Louisiana native who came here to work at Procter & Gamble.

"My first goal was to have an e-commerce business," he says, and he checked that off the list in October by establishing

"But I wanted to get that face-to-face contact with customers . . . to create a rapport. Then you have a chance to educate the customer about patterns, styles and trends, how to correctly tie a tie, dimples, colors, what's in, and overall fashion."

He and Matthew began by taking their color-shot Italian, Indian and Asian print designs to hotel shows in the area.

Business was good.

At Christmas, they opened a kiosk at Forest Fair Mall where they "did well during the holidays."

Looking at Kenwood

Now that the mall is renovating, they have closed, but they are keeping eye on Kenwood Towne Centre, where they hope to have a kiosk at the Parisian end open by late March - "in time for Easter."

"I don't look it as something negative," Thomas says.

"Now we have the opportunity to go to a new spot, with better exposure to an upscale market that appreciates quality with more existing foot traffic."

And they've added on - bow ties, women's silk scarves ($25 and up) and men's shirts ($65 and up).

"To be a true haberdashery, you have to expand the men's line to accommodate the entire man's wardrobe" he says.

Thomas is willing to work hard and wait.

"I never thought I'd get this far. We have our fingers crossed."

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