MY GREAT-GRANDFATHER arrived in the United States on September 7th 1923 with his wife and their two young children. They ventured over land and sea from villages in the Russian Empire (places in current-day Ukraine and Poland) during a time of great social and political unrest in search of a better life.
A butcher and grain merchant by trade, Sam Satin (née Yehoshua Usatinsky) found work as an “installment dealer” on Chicago’s west side, peddling his wares and making rounds to collect on his accounts each week. Selling mostly household goods to homemakers, his love of fine clothing saw him occasionally dealing in fine silk accessories for men such as neckties, scarves, pocket squares and his favorite accessory…the bow tie!
As a young boy growing up in the 1960s wearing Buster Brown shoes, knee socks and bow ties, my own childhood embraced an appreciation for fashion. Years later, my own love for bow ties surfaced anew in 1992 while working at Lurie Children's Hospital in Chicago, where neckties often got in the way and were considered a hazard in many aspects of my work as a Child Life Specialist.
After a lifetime of admiring and proudly wearing them for more than a quarter century, I noticed that some of my oldest, most beloved bow ties were starting to show their age, becoming thin and frayed.
Living in the Netherlands, where bow tie wearing was mostly unobserved and the rare bow tie one would find at a department store was almost always a pre-tied, strap-around-the-neck version, I turned to the internet.
While I found a wide variety of bow ties online, buying brands other than Ralph Lauren or Paul Smith was always a hit or miss affair. I bought a few more expensive bows whose quality was quite inferior, and likewise, purchased a few more affordable ones whose quality was quite good. But none were as good—price or design-wise—as my Ralph Lauren Polo bows.
Then one day, I stumbled upon an old YouTube episode of Martha Stewart making handmade bow ties with a guest who showed how fast, easy and inexpensive it was to make them as Christmas gifts. That aroused my curiosity and I started combing the web for inspiration and what I discovered soon thereafter, became the inspiration for starting my own bow tie company.
I came upon an interview with one of my favorite actors, Daniel Day-Lewis who, as the story goes, moved his family to Italy one year on whim after having met the late, famed Italian shoemaker Stefano Bemer, with whom the actor spent a year on the cobbler's bench learning how to make shoes.
That was all the inspiration I needed, so I laid the foundation for my new company by traveling to Kent, in southern England, establishing a working relationship with one of the oldest silk weaving mills in the U.K. and a small workroom some 50 miles away where silk accessories had been made for nearly a century. Usatinsky Bow Ties was in business!
All of my designs are meticulously handmade in England from the finest British-milled silk, linen and wool and my Usatinsky Bow Ties boast timeless designs and heirloom quality suitable for just about any occasion.
More than 90 years after my great-grandfather left the “old continent”—where I have made my home since 1996—I am delighted to not only revive and carry on the family name, but also the time-honored tradition of providing goods of extraordinary quality and exceptional value, something Sam Satin would be truly pleased to see.
I invite you to acquire a Usatinsky Bow Tie with the hope that you—or the lucky soul who you gift one to—will wear my bow ties well, wear them often, and wear them in the best of health and happiness. Usatinsky Bow Ties can be delivered to every address on the planet and always with free international tracked shipping.