Marc C.: Making It In The Bowtie Business
Behind every successful entrepreneur, there is a vision. Marc Clark’s vision came to him in a dream and included a world-renowned pop star wearing a bowtie. The 24-year-old’s love for design dates back to his teenage years. But it wasn’t until he founded Teens Count, a non-profit that catered to inner-city teens with interest in the Arts, was his ability to design publicly noticed. Fast-forward four years, and the freshman entrepreneur would be responsible for a unique collection of bow ties, glasses, foxtails and fashion icon inspired t-shirts. The Maryland native has a collection in demand by the likes of will.i.am, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Diggy and Vanessa Simmons. Despite a series of celebrities endorsements, he describes his collection and e-commerce platform as only the beginning of what’s to come.
What prompted your interest in design?
Since I can remember, I have always had an eye for beautiful things. From growing up Temple Hills, Maryland, I started to develop an interest in fashion when I would put my clothes out for school. It became a competition for me to make sure I chose a cool outfit and that I stood out among other students. When I began high school, I became the director of the fashion show and started a job at a retail store as a visual merchandiser. In this position, I styled the mannequins and I was able to use my knowledge and interest in fashion.
I founded a non-profit with three others in Washington, D.C, Teens Count, for at-risk inner city kids. We taught them fashion and art and had an annual fashion show that drew over 4,000 people, sponsored by local radio, CW network and hosted by people like Taraji P. Henson. It was a huge event that went on for six years. This is where I began getting the exposure that helped set me up today.
How long have you been designing professionally?
Prior to starting Marc C. I had another company which lasted for four and half years. We were in over fifty stores, including Up Against The Wall, Commander Salamander, Michael K and Artic Water.
How much capital was needed start your first collection?
When I first started my company it was from a dream and vision. I started with my own money. At the time, I was working for a production company. Every week, I would get my paycheck and used what was left as capital to invest in my company. There were times when my rent didn’t get paid because I used the money to buy materials instead. I was so clear on my vision and knew that the sacrifices would pay off in the future, so investors didn’t have to be in the equation.
Once your company launched, where you satisfied with the initial return on investment?
I was content at the time but I am never satisfied with anything. When you get satisfied, you become comfortable. While I wasn’t satisfied, I felt blessed and flattered to see that people started to take a liking to my products. It was surreal because it came from a dream that had, where I was making bow ties. I wasn’t expecting it to become what it became.
Talk about that dream that has guided you to today.
In March 2009, I had a dream that I was at my show during fashion week and Lady Gaga was performing at my show and she was wearing an over sized bow tie. When I woke up, I immediately ran into my room and began looking for material to make a bow tie, just to see what would come of it. I had a bag that I cut into pieces and I made the first prototype Marc C bow tie. From there, I went to the fabric store and spent tons of money on materials so I could try different things. Through trial and error I finally came up with the classic Marc C. bow tie that people have become familiar with.
Did you ever have the opportunity to work with Lady Gaga?
Yes, I had contact with her stylist, Nicola. He requested a pair of Marc C glasses for her.
What other celebrities have worn your products?
will.i.am currently wears of my glasses on the Black Eyed Peas world tour, Rihanna, Estelle, Diggy Simmons, Angela Vannessa-Simmons, Tenya Taylor and Mariah Carey. Many celebrities have worn my collection to events and in videos. Most recently; So So Def’s new artist Dondria sported a Marc C foxtail in her video for “Shawty What’s Up”, and Diggy Simmons wore a bowtie in his video for “What They Been Waitin’ For”.
What have those celebrity endorsements meant for your company?
They have put Marc C. on a platform and have given me exposure that I wouldn’t have otherwise. My company is only a year old and what I have accomplished in a year’s time is beyond amazing and that has much to do with celebrity endorsements.
Do you have plans to ever have Marc. C physical location?
Yes. Right now its all about building a following and clientèle. However, in the next two years, we will have a Marc C. shop. My vision for futuristic meets fashion.
Besides your online store, are there any brick-and-mortor outlets Marc C can be found in?
Yes, my collection can be found in Fovari, Patricia Fields in New York City and ShopNastyGirl.com.