photos by Jane Schneider
Mo’s suitcase filled with colorful bow ties. Pictured with his mom, Tramica Morris.
If you’re a regular reader of Oprah’s O magazine, you might have seen this handsome young Memphian smiling from their pages this month. His name is Moziah Bridges, and his business, Mo’s Bows, is creating quite a buzz. This 11-year-old entrepreneur makes and sells bow ties he sews himself, well, with a little help from his family. His business has made local news, but then a spread in Southern Weddings magazine caught the attention of editors at O. Since the magazine hit newsstands in late July, the Emmy and Golden Globe Awards producers have come knocking, and ABC, too.
Not bad for a rising seventh grader.
Mo, who starts at Freedom Preparatory Academy this month, is taking his growing popularity in stride. While he loves looking fashionable and making cool ties, he’s got more important stuff to do, like hang out with friends and ride his bike. His business venture started two years ago, when the 9-year-old was looking for a distinctive bow tie to go with his suit. When he came up empty-handed, he instead asked his granny to teach him how to sew.
“I wanted to make my own bow ties,” he says. “I didn’t want someone to make them for me.” Why bow ties? “Because bow ties make you look good and feel good,” he says. Pop stars, like Justin Beber and Chris Brown, inspire his look but dressing up is really rooted closer to home, where his dad and granddad routinely dress up in suits, too, for no particular reason.
Future brides and bow tie fans place orders at his etsy store online (people as far away as Australia have discovered his ties) or from the various Memphis outlets that carry Mo’s Bows. It generally takes 20 to 30 minutes to stitch one up, but Mo prefers spending time selecting fabrics, poring over the vintage remnants his granny has amassed over the years as a seamstress, or visiting Hancock Fabrics to find a swatch that’s just right.
I ask Mo to show me his favorite, and he returns to the room carrying a vintage trunk he uses to display his wares. Inside is a whirl of patterns: checks, silks, solids, and stripes. I’m thinking he might pull out something wild, but instead he selects a navy blue tie with white polka dots, a classic. So what do his friends have to say about his business? “They don’t say nothing!” Mo says with a faux scowl. “But some kids do ask me, ‘Do you have a job opening?’”
He likes the idea of being his own boss, in fact; his dream is to become a fashion designer someday.
“I’d like to do a kids clothing line first,” he says. “You know, vintage skinny ties, seer sucker pants. Maybe by the time I’m 15.”
But for now, the interview’s over and he’s off on his bike. Business will wait — summer won’t.