bow ties for the kiddos

A few weeks ago I got the honor of making bow ties for our friends Michael and Ivey Ketterer. They just officially adopted three boys and threw a big party to celebrate their family’s victory! How CUTE is he!?

Kyle and I are so happy and excited for them! We admire and respect this family so much for they way they demonstrate love to everyone they meet.

I had a blast doing my first kids bow ties and have done a few more orders since! If you want the perfect bow tie for your your little guy, shoot at e-mail to to place an order.




This week at Family Ties

It’s been a big week at Family Ties! I have been filling out forms and making decisions that will hopefully lead to exciting growth! My vision now is to have a completely functioning online store. Family Ties holds professionalism as one of its’ most important core values, and I believe handmade doesn’t have to mean less professional. I generally don’t take life too seriously, but I treat Family Ties as a legitimate business, and I believe that you will see the benefits of that when you receive your perfect bow tie.

So this week, I have been applying for business licenses, sales tax IDs, all kinds of things I never really knew about. It’s been surprisingly difficult, and it seems like every website I visit or phone call I make leads me somewhere else. It’s never-ending!

I really just want to make awesome bow ties, so hopefully I can get back to my sewing machine soon and start building up stock. That’s the next step–turn all of the piles of fabric in my office into bow ties. Then it’s onto a full scale photo shoot and a big website launch.

Stay tuned!

xo, Hilary

vacation time!

I’ll be away from my sewing machine for the week, but I’ll still be taking orders. Sorry for the delay! Orders placed this week will ship July 11.

I’m heading to the beach with my sweet husband for vacation! We have been working so much and we are ready for a fun break. All of my family will be there, so we are excited to spend time with them. My cousin is getting Friday morning, so it will be a huge celebration! Stay tuned for pictures!

xo, Hilary


Operation Family Ties branding is underway and there are some exciting new goodies in my office! As I shared earlier, I spent hours monday researching and getting inspired for the perfect packaging. While I love swirly doodles and rubber stamps of cute owls with huge eyes, I have been exercising discipline and opting for more classic details rather than whimsical ones. And I love the identity that Family Ties is starting to have. The bow ties themselves are super fun and youthful, so the classic logo is a nice balance.

Read this great article about branding from Etsy’s seller handbook.

When you purchase a bow tie from Family Ties, it will be packaged in a hand-stamped cotton muslin bag. I ordered a custom rubber stamp with my logo and voila!

A huge project for me was deciding exactly how I wanted to do clothing labels. There are many online suppliers, but I found that these are only “affordable” if you are purchasing huge quantities. After some research, I decided to make my own and wanted to share the step-by-step process:


  • 1 pack of iron on t-shirt transfers (about $8.50 at Wal-Mart).
  • 1 roll of grosgrain ribbon of your color choice. I use off-white, and light colors work best. (about $1.50 at a craft store)

The Process:

  • Using a word processing program, create your label by importing a picture, a text box, or whatever you want your label to look like. Size the image so that it will fit on your ribbon.
  • Make your image a mirror image. (If your printer has this option, you can skip this step)
  • Copy and paste your image and create a row of the same image, putting them close together, and repeating as many as possible. I like to then select every image in the row (by holding shift in MS Word and clicking each image) and then copy the entire row. Then paste over and over until it fills the whole page.
  • Print this on copy paper and cut one image out to make sure it fits your ribbon the way you planned.
  • Once you are happy with your image, print on the specialty paper.
  • Cut out each image. (You want your cuts to be tight so that placing the image on your ribbon is easy.)
  • Ready for ironing! Have your iron pre-heated to the highest setting before you begin, and use a hard surface that will provide resistance (not your ironing board!). I used a pillowcase on top of my desk. The instructions that come with the paper are very helpful, so I’ll just add extra tips. After doing a couple of practice runs, I began laying out two strips of ribbon, each with three images, so that I could produce 6 labels at once. I highly suggest doing this to speed the process, but make sure that you only use the amount that your iron can cover in one place. Most of the transfer happens by pressing the iron firmly in one spot for 20 seconds, so you want everything to fit under the iron.
  • Let the ribbons cool while you begin your next set. (remove them from the ironing area and they will cool much faster!)
  • Repeat!
  • Grab your cool ribbons and peal off the paper backing.
  • Cut them to the desired length
  • Celebrate!

Finishing & Sewing:

  • I use a lighter to keep the ends of the ribbon from fraying. This might take a couple of tries to figure out how to seal the ends without causing it to burn. I like to hold the flame still and move the ribbon towards the flame.
  • I sew these on with my sewing machine, but you could also hand stitch them. I use a 1.5 straight stitch on each end and then backstitch.

Hope this helps and gets you excited about either selling your products or simply adding labels to things you own!

xo, Hilary


Yesterday was a good day for Family Ties! I was determined to learn how to run this business right, so I spent hours researching and studying business practices, tax information, and finances. After some success in that arena, I moved on to packaging! SO fun! After a lot of brainstorming, inspiration-searching, and online-shopping, I have decided exactly how I will package and ship my bow ties. Huge accomplishment!

I wanted to share some helpful links & info so that you don’t have to spend all the time I did researching! Whether you’re thinking about selling on Etsy, or just starting your own small business, I hope this takes a load of and sets you on your way.

  • Bank accounts: This is important! I thought I could save this step for later, but I am realizing this is super important to do now. I read this helpful article on Etsy’s blog about separating personal and business finances. I am headed to Well’s Fargo tomorrow to set up my account, but there are plenty of banks that offer great, low-cost or free business checking accounts. But before you run off to your bank, you’ll need to apply for a Tax ID number for your business…
  • EINs: In order to open a business checking account, you will have to supply your Employer Identification Number. Any business, regardless of the size, must have one of these from the IRS. You are likely a Sole Proprietor, but if you are unsure, here is the IRS’s definition: A sole proprietorship is a business that has only one owner and is not incorporated or registered with the state as a limited liability company (LLC). A sole proprietor can be a self-employed individual or an independent contractor. Sole proprietors (self-employed individuals) report all business income and expenses on their individual tax returns (Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Schedule C, E, or F). A sole proprietor may or may not have employees. Read about and apply for an EIN here.
  • PayPal: You NEED PayPal! It’s super simple to link your business bank account to your PayPal, and it is a trustworthy way for you to sell online. And now, thanks to the PayPal Here, you can sell ANYWHERE! You just plug the PapPal Here card reader into your smartphone, and you can scan any credit card–watch the video on their website to see exactly how it works. I can’t wait to use this!
  • Etsy Seller Handbook: This is a collection of SUPER helpful articles about selling on Etsy. The financial help is written for real people and makes this process so much easier. Even if you aren’t selling products online, I’ll bet you can find some great advice here!
  • Taxes: This is a huge topic, but I’ll share a few helpful tips. I won’t address sales tax (because I haven’t researched it in depth yet!) but this article should help. The most important thing you should know is that you only get taxed on your profits. You should record every single expense that it takes to run your business, and you’ll get to keep the money you worked hard for. Read this awesome blog on tax deductions for sellers.

I hope this helps you or at least gets you headed in the right direction. It can be so overwhelming to take the plunge into the business stuff, but it’s worth it! Happy selling.

xo, Hilary

a passion you should know about

I can appreciate stylish furniture even more than genius clothing, and that’s saying something. Chairs have always been my favorite piece of furniture. Whether it’s a vintage, mustard-colored, fourteenth century style or classic and clean from Pier 1 Imports, I LOVE chairs. I don’t actually sit in them often, and I really don’t own many. I just think they are so fun to look at! Here are a few gems from VillaNova, designed by Anna Bond from Rifle Paper Co. (Some awesome stationary if you are looking for a unique gift or some wedding invitation inspiration!) I spent the evening recovering our dining table bench, and it brought so much life to the room! Stop and notice your chairs next time you walk by and thank them for being so faithful, or if they’re looking like they need a facelift, why not show them some love? I love Ballard Designs upholstery material, and you can always find some goodies at your local fabric store.

xo, Hilary

sewing day

Today I worked on two orders for some very dear friends. Phil and Jessie are getting married in just three weeks and Kyle and I are so excited for them!! I’m making 14 bow ties for the groom and his groomsmen, and they’ll be made of red canvas to match the wedding party’s red toms. Love this idea guys! Check out more of Phil and Jessie’s awesome engagement photos here. Such a beautiful couple!

I also started on an order for Michael and Ivey Ketterer, some of our friends from Knoxville, Tennessee. (Michael is an amazing musician, check out his music on They just adopted three boys, and we’re making bow ties for them to wear in their adoption ceremony next weekend. They are the sweetest family and have been such good friends to us! Congratulations to your family and we are so excited for you guys!

xo, Hilary