Mother and Son Duo Turning Bow Ties into Medical Masks

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.

Brendan Doyle (’18)

“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.”

Whoa Ties may be purchased on Brendon Doyle’s Etsy page at www.etsy.com/shop/WhoaTies. To place an order for free surgical masks, send emails to BrendanDoyle33@gmail.com.

About Loras College
Founded in 1839, Loras College leverages its historic roots as Iowa’s first college, the second oldest Catholic college west of the Mississippi River and one of the nation’s 10 diocesan colleges to deliver challenging, life-changing experiences as part of its residential, Catholic setting. In 2019, Loras was the second-highest ranked Catholic college in the state of Iowa according to College Consensus, the 16th Best Regional College in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report and one of America’s Top 200 Most Loved Colleges/Universities by Forbes Magazine for the third consecutive year. Loras students ranked No. 2 in the world as part of the global Peeptrade Investment Challenge while a second group ranked No. 4. For the 10th consecutive year, Loras Media Studies student-led television station (LCTV) was named the TV Station of the Year by the Iowa College Media Association (ICMA).