During a trip to Istanbul we wandered into a store selling small kilim products for tourists. The young guy who was working in the store asked us where we were from, and when we told him Atlanta he got very excited.
The man reached into his wallet and pulled out a Georgia driver's license and a Kennesaw State student ID. He has gotten an MBA in Atlanta and recently moved home to Istanbul to work in his family business making kilim products.
We asked him what else he can make, and he said he can make anything we come up with. We left the store that day certain that we'd experienced divine intervention. We knew we were supposed to take advantage of this opportunity. Over dinner that night, we discussed what kind of products we would want to use for ourselves. We decided on the classic British dress slipper shape, a dopp kit, and a weekender.
We described what we wanted the products to look like and the materials we wanted to use--leather soles on the shoes, brown leather trim on the weekender, sizes, dimensions, etc. Shortly, we had prototypes. We tested the prototypes and made additional refinements. We had our final designs!
Our kilim products quickly overshadowed our ties, and we knew we had to listen to the market.
How do did two lawyers start making shoes in Turkey? We blame Jerry Seinfeld. Kind of. When we started Res Ipsa almost three years ago, we were both practicing law full time. We were talking about how bad most lawyers dress--even though they can afford to dress better. During a Seinfeld re-run we were laughing at how dated one of Jerry's neckties looked. The seeds of Res Ipsa were planted.
Most neckties were either too wide (3.25 inches or wider) or too narrow (2.75 inches or thinner). Why was it so hard to find a three-inch wide necktie. We call this the Goldilocks width--the perfect compromise between hipster-skinny and get-off-my-lawn-wide. We decided to make our own ties, using timeless fabrics so that if you see a picture of yourself wearing one of our ties you wouldn't know when the picture was taken based on how dated the necktie looked (sorry, Jerry. Serenity now!)
We spent about a year sourcing tie materials from all over the world: wool tartans from Scotland, mogadors and wool challis from England, and rare grenadines from Italy. We found a manufacturer in New York City to make each tie by hand. We were on our way to becoming a tie company.
We decided to visit Istanbul because we thought we might find some interesting fabrics in the Grand Bazaar that we could bring back and incorporate into our tie program. What happened next changed our lives.