Here at OffTheWood, the story of our brand is very important to us, which is why we’re so excited to share with you the rich history behind each of our unique wooden accessories! In the first of our OffTheWood Origins blog series, we’ll be taking you right back to the very beginnings of our company, by delving into the birth of the wooden bowtie!
Founder Franck Ndayubashe moved to Montreal with his older brother when he was just 13, to escape the civil war in his home country, the African nation of Burundi, and later attended university in Winnipeg, where he would set down permanent roots. However, an eye-opening trip back to Burundi in 2014 motivated him to start a business where he could give back to the people living in post-war poverty in his hometown. He toyed with various ideas linked to the fashion industry, experimenting with authentic African fabrics that his mother sent him. One day, Franck recalled a wooden necklace he used to wear, and he felt inspired. Wood seemed like the perfect material to bring into the spotlight of the fashion world, due to being non-toxic, biodegradable and recyclable. What’s more, because the grain pattern and density of each tree is unique, each wooden accessory will be too! Innovative ideas for different accessories made from recycled wood began springing to mind. After making a quick phone call to a carpenter friend in rural Quebec he’d known since high school, Franck Ndayubashe turned OffTheWood into a reality.
The first bowtie OffTheWood created was made from a recycled rosewood drawer. Franck was fascinated by the natural beauty of the wood and wanted to highlight the grain and color of the wood in his first design. The first bowtie had a very simple, curved shape with a smooth surface that showcased and elevated the characteristics of the rosewood, and it was manufactured by that same carpenter friend in rural Quebec, just like all the rest of the OffTheWood products that followed!
Franck made his first sale when he was filling up his car at a gas station and a man at the pump next to him noticed the wooden bowtie he was wearing. The passerby bought three bowties, straight from the boot of Franck’s car, and it’s all been uphill from there. Now, the number of handcrafted wooden bowties offered at OffTheWood has grown to fifteen. No chemicals are used, just a natural varnish to bring the unique grain of the wood back to life. The bowtie collection includes something for everyone, with an astounding variety of different woods used, all in unique shapes, colors and textures, and each complemented by a one-of-a-kind fabric knot.
Since its inception and the very first rosewood bowtie, OffTheWood has grown leaps and bounds, introducing lapel flowers and wooden sunglasses. There are plenty more wooden accessories to be explored on the horizon, so watch this space!