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I believe that something made by hand carries with it the energy of the maker. Most, if not all, of the items I make are incorporated into a special day. Whether my creations are used in a wedding, for a Father's Day present, or to welcome a new baby, a small part of me is actually there on the most important day of peopleís lives. Thatís extremely special. I cherish the stories that are told to me and the photos that are sent of special events in which my ties were used.

I love working with my hands, creating a whole from parts. It must be something ingrained in me. I grew up in a household where handmade was a way of life. I grew up watching my father make items, or use the resources we had available before running out to purchase a mass-market item.

My first rocking horse was handmade, by my father, out of solid wood no less. The clothing I wore was handmade by my Grandmother. The costumes I wore on Halloween were flawlessly sewn by my mother. When something needed to be fixed or changed around the house, my father was there with a hammer and his "mission" face. When I want a change or something new, itís only natural for me to first see what I can do with resources I already have. My first apartment was small, I needed narrow side tables that I could not find at the store.   After a visit to the local hardware store, I was able to make the exact size tables I needed.

Itís this type of critical thinking and resourcefulness that I learned from my parents I believe has helped me as a designer and helped me create my first father/son necktie set that is still my best seller.

When my son was born in 2008, I left my job at Rollins College as a Database Coordinator. My dream was to be a stay at home mother and be a part of my son's life one day at a time. For an event in the spring of 2009, I wanted my husband and son to have matching neckties. I looked online for matching ties and showed them to my husband. He was not pleased, most of the ties were shirt ties or informal material ties. My husband preferred silk ties and thought silk would be best for this type of event.

I spent countless hours combing the Internet and could not find matching silk neckties. I decided to take things into my own hands, and thus I created my first matching silk necktie set. The necktie set was a hit with my husband, my friends, and my family. It was the talk of the event, and I decided to create more of these necktie sets and offer them to other families, since nothing like it was offered at the time.

Itís so important to stay on top of the game and anticipate the future in this industry. Because my pieces are accessories, I feel they need to be beautiful enough to make the outfit, on-trend enough to complement any look, and classic enough to make them timeless pieces people will want to wear forever. I take cues from customers, I flip through wedding magazines, I check out what color combinations are in vogue and which ones will stick around for the long haul.

I love receiving an email from a bride-to-be stating she's so happy that she found her wedding colors in the perfect design in my store. Often she had searched for months with no luck, and that she can now take a sigh of relief knowing one thing would be checked off her wedding list.

I do not have a degree in art, fashion or design. I actually hold a degree in a Environmental Studies and a Master's in Business Administration. I like to call it the yin-yang that rules my life.

I was not taught how to use my sewing machine. Instead, I purchased a sewing machine and sat there for about 3 months, staring at it, wanting to use it but I was petrified of it. One day, I dug in and I have not seen the sun since. Apart from my creative time, I take care of our son and the house, cook, run errands, play train conductor Ė you name it! Basically, I am being a mom and a wife. The clothing designer in me sometimes makes an appearance, too.

Since 2009, Apple & Ivy has grown to a well-known online boutique for neckties, bow ties, suspenders, and other special event attire. While the business has grown exponentially every year, it is still just me, in my home studio creating items for fathers, groomsmen, sons, and daughters. I absolutely love my job, and I am delighted to have met so many wonderful customers while doing it.

Fun factoid:

In June 2012, I created 276 neckties, 45 bow ties, and 19 suspender sets