My in-laws gave me a Brackish bow tie in 2012 as a grad school graduation gift. It’s wearable art that I cherish. Not that anyone’s putting on the Ritz these days.
Naturally, when starting a podcast about hunting and fatherhood, I had to reach out to Ben Ross, the original feather artisan behind Brackish.
The company that almost wasn’t
At a loss for the perfect gift for his groomsmen, Ben had a vision for handcrafted bowties made from feathers he’d gathered while hunting. His bride-to-be wasn’t sold on the idea.
She made him test-drive the concept at a family gathering before the wedding. After she was asked more than once where he got a very outlandish prototype, and whether there were more to be had, she warmed to Ben’s idea.
Ben got to work, painstakingly constructing each man a bow tie to wear in the wedding. Handcrafted from eastern turkey feathers, the original design that inspired Brackish is understated but elegant. Its muted earth tones pop with natural iridescence that make it stand out in a crowd.
Ben partnered with one of his groomsmen, Jeff Plotner, to launch Brackish in 2012. Originally beginning with bowties, offerings expanded first in men’s accessories including cummerbunds and lapel pins. (Ben actually created a lapel pin before the original bowties.) More recently, the collection has introduced cufflinks, pocket squares, cuffs, and earrings.
And yes, Brackish will make bespoke accessories to adorn your entire wedding party.
Purpose and meaning
In Brackish tradition, each piece is handcrafted in Charleston, South Carolina. Each product honors the beauty of nature with ethically sourced moulted feathers.
Bowties take 4-5 hours of an artisan’s expert labor. The beauty and quality of these works of art speak for themselves and have caught the attention of A-list celebrities like Cam Newton, Blake Lively, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Bill Murray.
Pieces in the current collection are named to honor people and places special to the company founders – think grandfathers, fathers, nostalgic fishing holes, and favorite bars. Of course Ben and Jeff have named pieces for their wives.
“Purpose and meaning. My staff probably get’s sick of hearing me say it, but that’s what Brackish is about.”, says Ben.
There’s even a bowtie named after Green Pond, where Ben would fish and share tall tales with his dad when he was a kid.
Ben lives with his wife and two children in Columbia, South Carolina. I interviewed him for the Hunting Fatherhood podcast from Charleston over Squadcast. We’d never met, but talking with him was like catching up with an old friend.
He even invited me up to his neck of the woods to help me take my first tom this spring. Helping new hunters by calling in their first bird is a passion of Ben’s I’m happy to oblige.