When you spend your childhood having chocolate chip cookies for breakfast and dragging a stuffed Snoopy everywhere, it would seem like growing up to make greeting cards for a living would make perfect sense.
But Bow Ties founder Phil Ayoub has taken a road that has made anything but perfect sense.
As an only child (spoiled, but not a brat) living in Rhode Island, Phil spent his days playing Dukes of Hazzard with his cousins, and never successfully learning to ride a bicycle.
After graduating from high school, he made the scary decision to go to college a full 50-minute drive away from his parents, in Boston, MA, where he had a short-lived dream of becoming a sports journalist.
After working hard to earn straight B-‘s in most of his subjects (but A’s in Halloween costumes, as you can see), he graduated with an oh-so-valuable English degree.
A couple years after matriculating at Tufts, and a couple weeks after learning what “matriculating” meant, he felt like it was time to take those B- talents to a graduate program. So he drifted through business school, got an MBA, and added another DHWNU (Diploma He Would Never Use) to his parents’ wall.
But it was during his decade-long career as a singer/songwriter (yes, he went from business school to music…) that Phil realized he enjoyed observing people and trying to express what they might be feeling through song. In compiling ideas and lines for potential lyrics, he also would make note of things that might lend themselves better to other forms of expression… like in some cases, greeting cards.
So after years of partying with the likes of LL Cool J, Slash, and Michael Bolton, he could no longer handle the wild rock star lifestyle and did the next logical thing… he started an online talk show about dating and the single life called Single MENtality.
But it was when he was in a CVS looking for Father’s Day cards one rainy July afternoon that Phil heard the phrase that would change his life… “All these cards suck!”
He looked over at his grandmother and couldn’t help but feel her pain. She’d said something that he’d known for a long time. Most of the cards out there do “stink” (Phil doesn’t like to use bad language).
They either say too much, they’re too corny, they don’t make sense, or they’re just not funny. Other than Snoopy cards, which he’d already bought the lot of a few times over, Phil was quickly running out of quality greeting card (and career) options.
So armed with some ideas he’d gathered while songwriting, a cute dog he’d gathered from a previous relationship, and the fact that at least he found himself witty and clever, the idea for Bow Ties was born.
Being a man with varied aspects to his personality (some people might call him moody, but he prefers “varied aspects to his personality!”), Phil felt compelled to create multiple lines under the Bow Ties umbrella.
Prints Charming is cute and loving without being sappy, Sideburns is edgy and sarcastic in a playful way, and Sidekicks exists because everyone should have a sidekick like his dog Bailey.
When he’s not working on Bow Ties, Phil enjoys telling people he’s employed as a shark feeder at the local aquarium, striving for the perfect tan, and being 5 times older than anyone else in the “bounce house.”
He obeys most traffic laws, is always looking for a late night meal, believes that the boneless buffalo wing is the greatest invention known to man, once met Pat Morita (Karate Kid’s Mr. Miyagi) in an elevator in Oakland, CA, still practices the dying art of the handwritten letter, and lives by the motto “life is better with a dog.”