Andrew McGehee started hunting alligators when he was 11. Now, he’s hoping others will be on the hunt for his alligator skin bow ties.
He calls them Bayou Bowties. There’s the Banquet line for formal occasions, Outing for everyday (“like you’re out with friends”) and matching pocket squares for each.
McGehee, 24, says his family hunts alligators on Spring Bayou near Marksville. His cousins made boots and briefcases from the skins. Looking at the leftover scraps, he got the idea for Bayou Bowties, a way to put some money in his pocket before heading to medical school in Shreveport this fall.
“I’ve always liked ties and bow ties,” says the Ruston native, who spent the past year in Baton Rouge honing his business. “It was important to me to make a design that was tie-able, and that paid attention to the details — from the wooden buttons that adjust the neck size to the custom-patterned, organic-cotton satin that backs each leather face.”
That detail even carries down to the packaging. The bow ties and pocket squares are boxed nestled on a bed of Louisiana moss.
Before heading to Shreveport, McGehee was peddling his wares to some of the city’s more exclusive men’s retailers. He even managed an audience with Louisiana first lady Donna Edwards at the Governor’s Mansion, thanks to mentor Jeanne Triche and her friend, mansion coordinator Irene Shepherd.
Currently, Bayou Bowties can be found locally at Mercer Supply on Nicholson Drive in Baton Rouge, Vintage & Vogue in Ruston, Circle 7 in Madison, Mississippi, and online at bayoubowties.com, where they range from $185 for the Banquet line to $138 for Outing ties.
McGehee says he gets his business sense from his grandfather, the late Lucius McGehee Sr., who had his own poultry business, McGehee’s Golden Fryer.
“The business would go up and down, and he stayed with it through it all,” he says. “He worked hard and paid his employees fairly, even when it left him without a paycheck.”
During one of the good times, his grandfather bought the hunting land on Spring Bayou.
“I have lots of memories of my grandfather. We had a close relationship” he says. “It’s a pretty special place and to be able to have a business that springs from that place is pretty special to me.”
While McGehee gets his business acumen from his grandfather, he gets his desire to be a physician from his dad, Ruston pediatrician David McGehee.
“I’m interested in surgery,” says McGehee. “I think I’d like the work aspect of surgery, but I’d also like the personal relationships of repeatedly seeing the same patients with internal or family medicine.”
Again, for this young entrepreneur it seems to all be in the details. And he might just open a practice here in Baton Rouge.
“It’s a really cool place, and I’ve connected with an awesome church, Antioch, that meets at the Dunham School,” says McGehee. “I really wouldn’t mind living here one day.”
He’ll be easy to spot. He’ll be the sharp-dressed doctor in the alligator bow tie.