OTIS JAMES

Otis James opened his studio in Nashville, TN in the spring of 2010 where he and his 2 employees create his own line of handcrafted neckties, caps, scarves, bow ties and bandanas.  But it all started in 2009 when asked by a coworker to make neckties for her father and brother for Father's day.  Soon after he was taking on commissions and in 2010 he filed for his business license, quite his job and jumped in feet first.  You can see more of Otis James at otisjames.com.  


Q.  How did you learn your craft? I am self-taught in what I do. I apprenticed with a tailor when I first moved to Nashville 6 years ago. She taught me how to use industrial equipment and how to do alterations, but as far as what I make, I had to figure that out myself.


After 2 big bicycle trips around the country, I decided I wanted to do something physical, create something tangible, rather than computer graphics and animation, as I had done before. Clothing made sense to me because I've always had a love of textiles. Color and texture are very important to me. I thought about working in wood or metal, but wool and cotton spoke to me more.


Q.  What is the best part of your job?  It's tough to pick the best part. I love meeting friendly and interesting people. I also love designing new caps. And then there is sourcing the materials. I am very happy to roam a big fabric shop for hours, if they have nice cloth.


Q.  How do you get your inspiration for your designs?  Sometimes it's from a suggestion from a friend or customer. I like a challenge. Sometimes it's from watching movies or viewing art. Old photographs. Ideas come to me then simmer for a long time before they are made. I'm just now working on ideas I had 5 years ago.


Q.  Do you have any special project in the future that you would like to tackle?  There are many projects I would like to tackle. Right now I am focusing on expanding the caps- designing new styles and creating more inventory. I would love to do more collaborations with the caps.


Q.  What is the hardest part of owning your own business?  Having to do so much yourself. At the end of the day, everything rests on your shoulders. It is a lot of work!


Q.  Any tips for those starting out making their own clothing / textiles? If you're looking to make something to sell, focus on quality. There is an abundance of "throw-away fashion" these days. It's time to focus more on longevity, durability, and good design, rather than trends and volume.