Meet our Maker We Love who upcycles materials to create fashionable bow ties. Nisha Blackwell of Knotzland has been designing her high-quality bow ties since 2014. Read on to learn how she chose to forge her own path, and change the world one bow tie at a time.
Nisha Blackwell. Owner & Designer at Knotzland Bowties.
Just moved from Homewood to Wilkinsburg with my amazing boyfriend.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BRAND AND WHY IT’S THE BEST
Here in the tiny yet wonderful world of Knotzland we make handmade bowties from repurposed and reclaimed textile discards. In the business world, we are considered a Social Enterprise due to our commitment to the circular economy and the philosophy that materials can and should have a second life. We also, strive to responsibly recruit, train and hire women in and around our community assist with the production of our bowties. This is done through our "Sew from Home" community. The true driving force behind all of what we have hope to continue accomplishing as we lead in; what we hope is the future of small-batch manufacturing.
WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND AND THE STORY BEHIND WHY YOU STARTED KNOTZLAND?
I grew up in Homewood, at the time of my upbringing I realized a slow decline in what was once a thriving community. I attended Westinghouse High School (also, in Homewood) and then went on to Edinboro University to study Psychology. My upbringing consisted of being surrounded by strong and what I felt powerful women, but their true power came through advocating for working in the community. This led me to serve the community in any way possible, from Ameri-Corp during college, to Strong Women Strong Girls, to ReEnergize Pittsburgh I've always gravitated toward serving in a 'children-women-enviro' centric capacity. Then in 2014, after being laid off I found myself at a fork in the road. I could either walk the path my family and mentors at the time wanted me to, or I could go on to create my own unknown, I chose the latter & that's when Knotzland was born. I initially had taught myself how to sew to make a gift for my good friend's daughter (note preschool-now friendship <3 ) and the rest was history. I stumbled into bowties.. well, because that's what the people wanted! I knew that whatever I made I wanted to create the absolute best version of it. I looked to my love of vintage clothing for the answers. The bowtie had to be high quality, stylish, and able to stand the test of time. I research and studied the bowtie in and out and after testing a few prototypes on kids and friends- found myself on my way into a Start-Up accelerator to pitch my idea in hopes of an initial round of seed investment. We got it, and from there have been laser-focused on changing the world. One bowtie at a time.
WHAT ONE PRODUCT DO WE NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AND WHY?
Oh, you need to know about these amazing bowties! Also, know that when you buy a bowtie you are not only supporting Knotzland, and the circular economy, but the powerhouse of women and creatives that we work with.
IN THREE WORDS, WHY DO YOU LOVE PITTSBURGH?
Scenic. Affordable. Home.
HOW CAN PEOPLE FIND OUT MORE ABOUT KNOTZLAND?
Website: Knotzland.com, Instagram: @Knotzland, Twitter: @knotzland, Facebook @knotzland!