Andre 3000, Barack Obama, Beyonce, Dwyane Wade, Idris Elba, Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, Rihanna—these are just a few Black celebrities who have worn bow ties in recent years. Add R&B singer and co-star of Hidden Figures, Janelle Monae, a KCK native, to that list. Fashion trends come and go, and while some fashion experts say bow ties are back in style, a Bows-n-Ties and Tie-a-Tie.net study found that only 1 man in 100 knows how to tie a bow tie. LaDale Beason was once among the 99 men who could not tie a bow tie, but the KCK native and Wyandotte High graduate learned how and eventually started his own bow-tie business.
Beason started in business the year after he graduated high school. He wasn’t making bow ties; he was cutting hair. After getting his barber’s license, Beason quickly returned to cosmetology school. “What I saw was, everybody was cutting hair,” Beason said, “but it wasn’t a whole lot of guys doing hair.” He asked himself: “Do I want to work this hard doing a bunch of haircuts, or do I want to do two or three ladies’ [hair] and make more money?” That was 26 years ago, and he’s been a licensed barber and a licensed cosmetologist ever since.
Beason said he started his bow-tie business because “I could never find what I was looking for.” When he began wearing bow ties he learned how to tie neckties into bows, but when he started shopping for new bow ties, he rarely found ones he liked. So he decided to make his own. Although he had never used a sewing machine, he taught himself to make bow ties.
Proud of his work, he took some of them to his church and asked the deacons what they thought. They were impressed—so impressed, they became his first clients. He launched LKD Kustom Kreations in May 2014. The “L” is for LaDale; “K” is for his daughter Kendall; and “D” is for his wife Deanna.
Make Great Gifts
Christal Watson, president/CEO of the KCK-based Heartland Black Chamber of Commerce is one of Beason’s salon clients. She was so impressed with his bow ties that she gave one as a gift to journalist, syndicated columnist, and host of News One Now Roland Martin. On another occasion she gave one of Beason’s bow ties as a gift to the Senior Vice President of Black Enterprise magazine Derek Dingle.
Beason says if he can fold it, he can fashion it into a bow tie and matching handkerchief, hence the name “Kustom Kreations.” You only need to bring the fabric. “Instead of you going out and trying to find what you’re looking for, you [can] come to me and tell me what you’re looking for,” he said. Want bling on your bow tie? He can add gems or jewelry or any number of embellishments.
Beason said over 60% of his bow-tie clients are women who buy them for themselves and the men in their lives. Though Beason’s initial bow-tie clients were men, a conversation with a woman changed that. While displaying his bow ties at a crafts fair, a woman approached him and asked, “What do you make for the ladies?” He said, “bow ties.” She told him women like embellishment, and he began offering embellished bow ties.
To his surprise, a lot of men began buying his embellished bow ties. He got another business idea from his daughter Kendall. She liked wearing his bow ties in her hair, so he began offering a hair-bow product line“Kendall’s Kouture.”
Business is Good
The bow-tie business is cyclical. Beason sees increased sales during prom season, wedding season, and as Father’s Day approaches, then sales dip for most of the summer. “People don’t want to be buttoned-up—they want to be more loose.” These downturns don’t worry him. “The blessing is we have … different businesses.” Not only does he cut hair, style hair, and make bow ties and accessories, he also Djs events. So, as bow-tie sales dry up when temperatures increase, he gets more requests to DJ graduation, barbeques and weddings.
Beason sells his bow ties, handkerchiefs, and hair bows out of his beauty salon, Skilled Hands Precision Hair Styling, at 8040 Parallel Parkway, Suite 110, in KCK. He has photos of his products on Facebook at LKD Kustom Kreations. His pieces have garnered local and national attention.
While he started this business for a practical reason, but he had a second—more sentimental—reason for doing so: He wanted to leave Kendall a legacy. “God’s just been good.”