Despite a number of ambassadors as influential as Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill – whose navy fetish white peas bow tie is emblematic – this accessory is far less trendy than the universal formal tie.
For years the bow tie has been branded as outdated and tacky. But it seems that MerciSimone brand has given a new life to this symbol of elegance.The idea of the co-founders Hubert and Clotilde was to modernize the accessory to get rid of its “old-fashioned image”. To achieve this, they had the ingenious idea to create a wooden bow tie.
Here is an exclusive interview with French siblings and co-founders Hubert & Clotilde.
MM: This is a risky gamble to produce wooden bow ties, what makes you think it will sell? What are your core brand values?
FYI Hubert and Clotilde –
Yes, it’s a risky but a calculated gamble! People are more and more drawn to quality and artisan products which we are committed to deliver… Merci Simone offers unique and simple products.
Then, it’s all about you and your creativity in your way to dress up!
MM: Hubert & Clotilde, what first drew you to entrepreneurship?
We grew up in – what you can call – an entrepreneurship environment, a kind of incubator where each new idea is worth a try. Accomplish yourself at work and do what you truly like – whatever it is – was definitely one of the leitmotiv at home. We also both had to do some manual work and helped on our family farm in the country side of France, which definitely helped us to be practical, appreciate nature & real things, and touch the essence of simplicity. Also, we have always been cultivating our own creative projects. Hubert builds and designs furnitures, while Clotilde designs fashionable clothes and loves working on interesting art projects.We both live in really cosmopolite cities: Paris & London, so with our personal and professional backgrounds, it felt natural for us to launch Merci Simone.
MM: Can you tell us more about Merci Simone?
Merci Simone (MerSi) is a brand dedicated to male elegance. MerSi’s products serve men in their search of refined eccentricity. The MerSi bow ties are our first product. We wanted them to be an icon of what Merci Simone is and will be. We wanted to work with wood that would be specially selected by us and crafted by hand. When it came to the fabric for the neck strap, we wanted it to be a sophisticated texture and design and 100% “Made in France”. Each product is unique and can be personalized to some extent.
We are currently working on another product line that will bring an interesting addition to our target customer. The plan is to launch it by June 2014.
MM: How did this all start? What was your inspiration?
The idea came around Benoit’s birthday. Benoit is our little brother, and he has a dandy style. We were looking for an unusual present, when the idea of a wooden bow tie popped up. We shared a really clear idea of the product we both had in mind and realized it was impossible to find it!
So on a sunny Sunday of spring as we were walking in Paris, we talked about this ideal product we had in mind. We walked about 6 miles that day, and then decided to start our own business. As a result of this day, this idea became our 2013 birthday present for Benoit! He was the first person to receive a MerSi bow tie!
MM: If I want to order a bowtie and I live in the US, how does it work? (price, shipping costs, delay of delivery…). If you do not ship internationally for now, is it nonetheless your goal or you want to stay in the French market?
We do ship the MerSi bow tie internationally, and it already has a little success in London. For all non-EU destination, we ship our products using FedEx International. Depending on the country’s custom policies the bow ties normally take 5 to 8 days to ship after order placement. International Shipping is about $20 but we ship for free if you buy two bow ties at the same time.