Whether he's cycling across the country or proposing to his girlfriend from the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, Kory Piorkowski believes in going big or going home. "Everything for me is a journey, an adventure," says Piorkowski, who launched Epic Bowtie Co. in April. "The word 'epic' just sums up the way I want to live." From Wild West-inspired fabrics to paisley patterns with pink lining, Piorkowski designs bow ties for men, women, children and pets. Show Off: Piorkowski worked as a VIP host at Horseshoe Cleveland through June greeting high-powered guests in suits and ties. "But I wanted to look different," he says. So the 27-year-old searched the mall for bow ties that could take the place of standard neckwear. "I couldn't find the right one for me," he says. It was the only impetus he needed to create Epic Bowtie Co. from his Mayfield Heights home. "I was the perfect walking billboard because I could wear my bow ties and people would ask, 'Where did you get that?' " Exclusive Material: Piorkowski buys his fabrics on trips — a trek through Colorado yielded Southwestern prints, for example — or creates custom cottons through online retailer Spoonflower. For his CLE Rocks bow tie ($35), which features a silhouette of the Cleveland skyline, Piorkowski sketched the design in Adobe Illustrator, then uploaded it to Spoonflower. A seamstress sews Piorkowski's patterns, making no more than 10 of each. Bridal Buy: Piorkowski and his groomsmen will wear bow ties he's designing specifically for the May fete. "I'll make some kind of map bow tie ... to coordinate with our travel theme," he says. In fact, offering custom creations for people's big days is a potential market. "It's another way to make your wedding more personal," he says.
FIND IT: Purchase Epic Bowties at the Cleveland Flea, Yellowcake Shop in Cleveland and on Etsy. MORE INFO: epicbowties.com
The Eastwood ($35), named for actor Clint Eastwood and inspired by the Wild West, is made from sturdy denim and features an orange and blue patterned swatch in its center. The bow tie comes pre-tied, but can be special ordered in the self-tie version. "If someone can imagine it," Piorkowski says, "we can make it."