Peter-Blair’s Kate Ackerly sketches at her work table in the company’s Patterson Avenue offices. Sarah Walor photo
When her brother started talking about creating his own line of luxury ties, Kate Ackerly suggested designing one with flip-flops on it. "He just said, ‘Start drawing,' and he hasn't fired me yet," she says with a laugh. Her brother, Dick Fowlkes, is now the owner of men's tie retailer Peter-Blair.
She draws every design for the print and woven ties by hand. "I grew up with a father who was into hunting," Ackerly says. "So you see a lot of fish designs and a fair amount of hunting designs."
Part of the Libbie and Grove shopping district, Peter-Blair sells silk, hand-sewn ties, pocket squares and cummerbund sets that are distributed at more than 200 boutiques throughout the United States. (In early March, the store will move down the street to 5800 Grove Ave.) For almost 20 years, the company has developed a following for its ties, which feature repeated motifs of Ackerly's drawings. Popular designs include ties featuring a play on words, such as the "chick magnet" design — a tie covered in drawings of baby chicks and magnets. "Anything I can get small enough to work on a tie, we've probably done it," she says.
Last fall, Peter-Blair launched its Bespoke collection, a luxury line of hand-sewn ties with a higher thread count than the silk printed ties. "It's kind of like the ties that your father probably wore when you were growing up," Ackerly says.
In the spring, expect to see ties decorated with seahorses, alligators and, in a comeback for one of their best sellers, flying pigs. "I started out just doodling at the kitchen table," Ackerly says, "and now it's a full-time job."
For more details, call 716-9099 or visit peter-blair.com .