Some medical professionals might wear bow ties.
Because of the challenges they are facing during the worldwide pandemic, however, nearly every medical professional is scrambling to find personal protective equipment, or PPE. That’s why a mother and son who both graduated from Loras College are working to make and give facemasks to anyone who needs them. The facemasks represent a transition for Whoa Ties, the custom bow tie company Brendan Doyle (’18) started during his senior year in high school in the Chicago area.
“My mom, Jane (Einersen) Doyle (’83), can sew and create anything she can think of – from the Halloween costumes we wore growing up to the flower girls’ dresses for my brothers’ weddings to everything in between,” Brendan said. “I’m youngest of five and she made my older brother, Jack, a bow tie. Being the youngest brother, I got jealous and I was like, ‘That’s cool. I want one.’ And she made me one and I was like ‘Ma, I could probably make more of these and sell them to my friends at school because of prom and homecoming.”
With 18 other family members who have graduated from Loras, including his dad, Matt Doyle (’82), there was little doubt where Brendan would go to college. And the bow tie business followed him to campus.
“At the welcoming Mass at my freshman orientation into Loras, President (Jim) Collins (’84) said, ‘We have students from Arizona, we have students from Colombia, we have a student with his own bow tie company,’” Brendan said. “I was like, ‘How does he already know this?’”
Eventually, Brendan placed Whoa Ties neckwear in the Loras College Bookstore, along with placing some in Men’s Wearhouse and Clark Street Sports stores in the Chicago area.
“It has been really rewarding,” he said of the start-up business. “It really taught me to keep pushing – that I need to keep creating these opportunities for myself.”
He continued to sell bow ties as a side business after graduating from Loras and going to work at Oracle Corp. in California, where he is a senior product manager. His creations have become his sartorial signature at his day job.
“Coming to San Francisco, the style is not button-down shirts and bow ties,” he said. “It turned a lot of heads when I showed up to the office every single day wearing a button down and a bow tie.”
Recently, as the need for medical supplies and PPEs has become widespread, Brendan said he and his mom decided to make facemasks from their bolts of cloth, remnants they have on hand and other leftover material. He sees the change as the likely first step in converting Whoa Ties into a nonprofit organization that would make and sell bow ties and give the proceeds to charity.
“It’s been my mom and I doing this company together, but since I’ve moved to San Francisco, the logistics have changed a little bit, so I want to shift my company,” Brendan said. “I’m still doing research on how to start it up as a nonprofit.”