Spotlight on Brannie Ties

We spoke to Phil Ingham who, with his wife Sheila, runs Brannie Ties.

What do you do?

Brannie Ties is one of the UK's leading bespoke neckwear manufacturers, designers and suppliers of men's ties, ladies scarves and accessories.

We offer a totally free design service that is second to none as well as the lowest minimum quantity in our field, and this has proven to be a huge success. Brannie Ties is also the only UK supplier that offers an express service that allows our customers to go from placement of order to delivery of goods in less than 10 days. Also, because we are immensely proud of the quality of our products, we always send out free samples to anyone who enquires about placing an order with Brannie Ties.

The single most important thing that makes Brannie Ties stand out from all our competitors is our total commitment to high quality products and customer service. This is why we offer a free design service so our customers can ensure the tie/scarf/accessory they have designed by Brannie Ties is exactly what they want. We also give free advice as to the best kind of material that will suit the customer's requirements.

Brannie Ties has grown from a design only company to a dynamic, bespoke neckwear supplier with clients all over the world, most of which come directly from viewing our easy-to-use website. We also generate a lot of business from client recommendations, which is the best kind of business a company can ask for. When your customers recommend you and trust you to supply a service and a product to a friend/club/business, this shows complete faith in our ability to deliver a first class product, on time and on budget.

Why do you do what you do?

The simplest and easiest answer is, to make money. You don't go into business for the sake of it – you've got to have that “X” factor in your blood, a yearn for success that will let you take that leap of faith where others would be be happy with their lot just working 9-5. Business can be totally absorbing in every way and, when it's good, it's great but, when it's bad, it can destroy you if you give into your weaknesses. You need to be mindful for your strengths and weaknesses at all times. Anyone who goes self employed knows that every single moment of the day is a mixture of accounts, sales, marketing and more and that can sometimes be overwhelming. At the end of the day, it all boils down to quality of life and we are successful because we know when to work hard and when to turn off and relax.

Sheila has a background in tie design and computer graphics but felt she was being held back at her job so, when the time was right, she made the jump and started Brannie Ties. I used to run a few shops back in the day, before going into building. A back injury meant that I could no longer do physical work so I joined forces with Sheila and took on the marketing/logistics side of Brannie Ties, allowing Sheila to focus on the design and accounting side of things. We both know what we are good at and we enjoy what we do. To be driven by a need to succeed and and become the best at what you do is in everyone, just some choose to ignore that instinct while others use it to cut out a new life for themselves. Everyone wants the big house, the nice car and the easy life and, the thing is, with some hard work, you can have the first two, but life is not easy...... but it is worth fighting for. Work hard, be careful not to be too careful and take calculated risks when the opportune moment arises. We love life and we work to live but also live to work. It's a balance and, to help with that, we have three daft dogs who spend a great deal of time in the office, keeping us grounded and keeping the smiles coming.

So, in a nutshell, we do this to survive, to enjoy life, and to keep the wolf from the door.

What's your greatest success story?

That is a hard one..... this is the way we see it. There are only two of us in a home office (with three dogs!), 10 miles from the nearest town and yet we have gone from nothing to one of the most successful bespoke neckwear suppliers in the UK. We have clients all over the world, from Africa to China, from Antarctica to America. The Scottish and English parliaments, BMW, Mercedes, Audi and many, many more keep coming back every year and still there are only two of us in the office with our dogs.

To me, this shows how to run a business in a dedicated, controlled, refined way to the point where people ask us what is the secret to our success because, while huge companies are falling in these hard times, Brannie Ties is not only growing by the day but we are currently having yet another record year. We are unique in that we don't do forecast charts, we don't predict sales or even do a business plan – none of these things will ever bring the actual business in. You want to know what our greatest success is? It's when a small bowling club sends a letter to personally thank us for such good service and then adding that they will recommend us. That's a success story. Is it “great?” Of course it's great!!!  

Tell us something we may not know about your profession

Many people ask us where we got the name Brannie Ties from. Well, a long time ago, we had a beautiful golden retriever called Branston (see picture). He has since passed away and sleeps now under starry skies but we loved Brannie so much..... hence, 'Brannie Ties'.

The thing that most people do not understand about a tie is just how complicated they are to make. If you look at a tie in a shop or on a friend, if looks simple enough but, say you want a bespoke tie with a specific width of strip, then a shadow weave running through it and then a corporate logo  under the knot when tied.... well, then things change.

A tie is actually a cylinder of material, tacked down the back, with a lining running top to bottom inside. The weave is done on the bias at roughly 45 degrees so any repeated pattern has to be configured to allow for this when the final tie is cut, folded and tacked so you end up with not only the logo being centralised from behind but to make sure the stripes run correctly as well. Also, different materials react in different ways. A polyester tie can crease, yet it holds it's position well due to the fibres. Silk does not crease but can drop when tied – this is where tie clips come in handy! We actually do a poly/silk mix which is a clever combination of the two materials since the polyester holds the silk in position but only the silk is shown on the front of the tie.

All our ties are finished by hand which ensures a high quality finish. Our printed scarves require complex programs to cut out the design onto clear laminate before being set by hand and readied to start the printing process.

What's the most important lesson you've learned whilst building your business?

Never rush into things!!! Take your time – if you try to force something, more than likely it will crash and burn. Also, understand things. Question why something worked, as well as why it didn't.

Both Sheila and I work hard because we want to better ourselves, reduce the stresses of everyday life and make something to be proud of. I have always said that, if it all ended tomorrow and we had to go back to being employed, at least we can say we tried our best, and we did it.... no one can take that away from you.

Never be ashamed to say that you are proud of your achievements. We are proud of what we have built and we treat every customer the same way to the best of our ability. I left school with no qualifications to speak of and Sheila went to art college – neither of us had any business degrees or qualifications. Are we doing ok?  Damn right we are!