Like many entrepreneurs, Moziah Bridges simply wanted to solve one of his own problems. Even at a young age, the Memphis, Tenn., native loved fashion—he dressed himself in suits and ties as early as age 4. “I like to wear bow ties because they make me look good and feel good,” he explained on his site. But his formal wear options thinned out as he got older, especially neckwear, which came in a limited color palate and were all clip-ons.
So in 2011, at the ripe age of 9, Bridges sat down with his grandmother and learned how to sew by hand and with a sewing machine. Using her leftover fabric scraps, he began creating the kind of bow ties he wanted to wear. After just a few months, the hard-working child had produced a collection of over two dozen ties, which friends and family quickly snapped up. His company, Mo’s Bows, was officially born.
Having found some local success, Moziah Bridges decided to expand. He started selling his bow ties on Etsy, and results were phenomenal. By August 2013, he had sold $30,000 worth of product, according to Forbes. The next September, he appeared on “Shark Tank” and landed a mentorship with investor Daymond John. (Bridges turned down a $50,000 investment from another Shark who wanted a $3 royalty per bow sold. Even as a tween, he had a keen eye for a not-so-great deal!) As of the fall of 2014, he employed five seamstresses, including his mom and grandmother, and was pulling in $165,000 in annual revenue.
By the time he turned 13, Bridges’ bow tie business was booming. Through his mentor, he struck deals with retailers such as Cole Haan and Neiman Marcus. He launched a line of pocket squares and t-shirts in fall of 2014. As of June 2015, revenue was up another 20%, surpassing the $200,000 milestone. Fame was just around the corner, too—that year, the young entrepreneur designed bow ties for the players selected in the NBA Draft.
But Bridges isn’t interested in short-term fame and fleeting fortune. Rather, he wants to build a fashion brand for decades to come. He seems himself following in the footsteps of Ralph Lauren: “Lauren started selling neck ties when he was 10 years old,” he told Forbes. “So I think I can be real famous like him, so I will keep my business going all the way until I get older.”
Whatever is next for Bridges, one thing is certain: He’ll be well-dressed when he graduates high school—in a few years.