Smile Politely

Pies and Ties debuts at the CoLab

Rebecca Oliver is the tie-maker featured in the first week of [co][lab]’s second pop-up shop Pies and Ties and she set up shop at 5 p.m. this past Thursday, the opening day of the pop-up shop.

She’s been in business for a month and a half and so far her clients have been from places as far as Australia and Canada and the east coast of the United States. She’s looking to increase her local exposure and she has the tie she believes will get the job done.

“This is the Continental,” she said, holding up a gray tie that looks like the legs of a ribbon. “It’s retro and was worn by Elvis. I have a new take on it with a different pattern. It’s also adjustable.”

Her company Sir Chamber resides on and customers from around the world are rolling in to check out the ties she’s making. It’s part of the reason Aileen Moon, organizer of the pop-up shops in the [co][lab], selected her.

“Hopefully it’ll inspire local businesses to sign up and take advantage of the space and see the benefits of the exposure they have,” Aileen said.

The genesis for Pies and Ties started with a special date—March 14 or 3.14, otherwise known as Pi Day.

“The idea came about because we wanted to do something for Pi Day,” Aileen said. “We had some connections with independent tie and bow tie makers and kind of connected with them and found a way to bring the two together.”

For Aileen, it’s more about generating exposure for entrepreneurs rather than generating revenue. Take the flower pop-up shop that sold daisies throughout the Valentine’s Day season.

“We sold about 100 flowers,” Aileen said. “It went pretty well. I think we got a pretty good response just from the community here, which we are happy about. I think because of the new concept, people were kind of curious, like people walking by. In terms of exposure, people are constantly looking and walking by [the pop-up shop].”

Exposure is certainly an aim Rebecca and her second week counterpart Micah List will be searching for over the next two weeks. For Rebecca, she wants to generate some business with local customers.

“I like the opportunity of being here because I want locals to know about me,” Rebecca said.

The second week of Pies and Ties will feature Micah List, a tie-maker from Pennsylvania. In addition to displaying ties, he’ll be conducting demonstrations about how to make a tie.

“He’s all about showing the work that goes into each tie,” Aileen said. “So he wants to demonstrate the process of making the ties. All of his ties are made entirely from scratch. He really values the craft behind each tie and has a great heart too.”

Just like the proceeds from pop-up flower shop, a percentage of the proceeds from Pies and Ties will go to the Center for Women in Transition.

The Center for Women in Transition is a local nonprofit organization whose mission statement states, “The Center assists women in the criminal justice system in making a successful transition to their families and communities through practicing and promoting restorative justice.” It helps women and families who are homeless or have been affected by domestic violence.

The inspiration to donate a percentage of the proceeds to the Center for Women in Transition came to Aileen after a visit to its offices.

“I went to go visit the Center for Women in Transition,” Aileen said. “Going there and talking to [Mary Wallace] really inspired me to do something in the community. They’re really helping people. And they can use all the resources they can get.”

This will be the second pop-up shop put together by Aileen and [co][lab] with a third to be coming later this month. That featured shop will be Pandemonium Donuts.  Most of the ideas for pop-up shop businesses come from connections with people at [co][lab]

For Rebecca Oliver of Sir Chamber said it was her love for men’s fashion that eventually transformed into tie-making. Since she started her company a month and a half ago, business has been booming.

The display for Pies and Ties is minimal. Rebecca set up a few logs to make the shop look manly and rested the ties—continental and bow—on large brown cylinders that are attached to wires hanging from the ceiling. There are also photographs of the ties arranged throughout the shop.

The second week set up is a mystery as of now but it will be likely minimal as well.

For the final weekend of Pies and Ties, Aileen is planning a “pie day” where slices of pies will be available in celebration of 3.14.

“We’re going to have a closing pie party on 3.14 as we’re wrapping up the tie shop,” Aileen said. “We’re going to end it with a pie party. We’re going to source pies locally and use that to wrap up the pop-up series.”

This pop-up series will close with Pies and Ties, though other businesses are likely to get in line to get a spot for a new pop-up shop. Although the flower shop did not sell a huge amount of flowers, the shop introduced Champaign-Urbana to the idea of a pop-up shop as a way to increase exposure for small businesses.

And for Aileen, that is a lot of what it’s about.

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