The following piece about Ghana Rising fave Edward Armah comes courtesy of the Neiman Marcus website….Enjoy and be inspired….
A fashion fairytale — from Neiman Marcus sales associate to designer, stocked by Neiman Marcus.
“It was me, my bow tie and my pocket handkerchief,” Edward Armah says reminiscing the days he worked on the floor at NM Short Hills, in New Jersey.
It was a decade ago and the sartorially savvy Ghana native had just moved from London to the United States. With dreams of breaking into the fashion industry, Armah landed a gig at NM selling shirts, ties and accessories.
“I was getting into a department with big sharks, guys that had worked there for 15 to 20 years,” Armah says of his days at the store. “Stepping into the department, I needed to distinguish myself from every other person.”
His colorful handmade bowties and pocket squares became his trademark.
“When people would walk in they would say ‘I want the guy with the bow tie to help me,’” he says. “I was that guy.”
His after-hours crafts garnered endless compliments from colleagues and customers alike, but at that time Armah didn’t have business plans up his sleeve. In 2007 an opportunity to work at Oxxford Clothes led the sought-after salesman and personal shopper to Chicago. There he met a customer who changed everything.
“This important wholesale customer wanted to buy my bowtie,” which would have been a conflict of interest. “I don’t want to lose my job for some $30 bow tie.’”
Edward Armah bow tie with pelicans.
The persistent customer, who owned a successful specialty shop, was not taking no for an answer, and asked for Edward’s boss, who decided the account was important enough to make the concession.
“So I made him 12 bow ties,” he says of his not-your-average reversible neckwear designs, that give off what he calls a “butterfly” effect.
Soon after, economic times turned tough and Armah lost his job at Oxxford. He came to see his future in his own product. For his first trunk show Armah returned to his old stomping grounds, NM Short Hills. That day he sold every one of the 70 bowties he had on him. The Neiman Marcus buyers were in disbelief and offered to sell him in three more doors, and soon enough at every Neiman Marcus store.
Edward Armah Pocket Circle.
“I thought, now if my bow tie has become such a hit item and people are just collecting them because they think it’s the coolest thing, then what else can I add to bring more excitement to my collection?” Armah says as if he is thinking out loud.
The pocket circle was born.
“I call it the pocket handkerchief for dummies,” Armah laughs. “There literally is nothing you can do wrong.”
Edward Armah pocket circle how-to.
Armah’s dapper invention can look as exuberant or as subtle as you like.
Find Edward Armah men’s furnishings in Neiman Marcus stores. And don’t miss the Made To Measure Event, in stores through Feb. 26!
Edward Armah: http://www.edwardarmah.com/ Neiman Marcus: http://www.neimanmarcus.com/stores/index.jsp?ecid=NMSocialNMDaily