When Houstonian Giovanna Albarran was picking out a gown for an upcoming Houston Asian Junior Chamber of Commerce Gala, she wanted a matching bow tie for her partner, Kevin Tran. “I went to every store I could think of and I couldn’t find one to match,” she says.
Luckily, she had the skills to solve this problem. “I was a tomboy as a little girl,” she explains. “ and my mom got tired of sewing my clothes back together and said ‘You know what? You’re going to do it yourself.’”
She dragged out the sewing machine and made Tran the perfect matching tie—black floral on champagne satin. From then on, every time the couple went to a black tie event, she crafted a bow tie that complemented her gown.
That practice grew into their business, Giovanna Bow Ties, which offers customizable bow ties in a variety of prints and shapes. In the process, she has become an expert on bow tie fit, which many men apparently struggle with.
“The bow tie has to match the jawline,” she says. “If it’s too big it might look silly.” She also tries to match size—taller, buffer men need bigger bow ties—and face shape. “If somebody had a rounder face,” she explains, “I like to do a diamond cut, it gives it a sharper edge, it makes it look slimmer.”
The ties run from $69 to $120, and they’ve caught on with Houston grooms looking to enforce bow tie conformity on their groomsmen. “We’ve done four weddings and have three more planned,” says Tran. If you’re willing to risk it, you can pick up a ready-made tie 30 minutes after it’s ordered online. But if you want Giovanna to make sure the tie matches your jawline, build, and, well, spirit (“We ask for their personality too,” she says), it’s best to order a few days before your event.