A bow tie can say a lot about a man, and in Harrison Collins’s case it says he’s passionate about water. Specifically, clean water.
Collins, a junior in marketing and entrepreneurship, has designed and is selling high-end bow ties to raise money for TivaWater, a Knoxville-based organization that provides water filters to communities in developing countries in Africa and around the world.
Dubbed Tiva Ties, the red and blue silk neckties sport small emblems of the African continent. They’re a way to raise awareness about TivaWater and the global need for clean water.
He’s already sold forty bow ties for $40 each.
“A lot of times when you buy something to support an organization, you give money but what you receive might not be something you can use,” says Collins, a Knoxville native. “This tie is something you can wear anywhere. It’s not just a one-time purchase. It’s an ongoing conversation piece.”
Designing a charity bow tie was one of the thirteen random things Collins set out to do during 2013. After connecting with the TivaWater staff—which is made up of four other UT alumni—Collins had found his purpose.
“Being able to go and sit down with the staff, see what they do, see their product, and hear about their vision—it’s something I really believe in,” he says.
Gitman Brothers of North Carolina produced the ties based on Collins’s design sketches. He ordered 200 pre-tied and 200 self-tie bow ties that he’s been selling to family members, friends, and his fraternity brothers. He’s also reaching out to other fraternities and campus organizations. The bow ties sell largely by word of mouth, but Collins advertises by wearing them to formal dances and events where they often become the subject of conversations.
“We want people to buy into TivaWater,” says Collins, a founding member of Beta Upsilon Chi, or Brothers Under Christ, the fraternity that moved into a recently vacated house in Fraternity Park. “It’s a great way for them to help provide water filters for people who are in need.”
Each bow tie comes with a small card informing buyers about their role in impacting the world by supporting the mission of TivaWater.
Collins has created the hashtag #TivaTie so bow tie wearers can post photos of themselves sporting the dapper ties at events.