South Ogden Brothers Hope To Revolutionize Men’s Fashion, While Fighting Opioid Addiction
SOUTH OGDEN, Utah — It seems that nearly every man, sooner or later, struggles with properly tying a necktie.
Rather than deal with it, however, Ryan Smith wanted to come up with a solution.
“One day, I was getting ready for an event, and I kept tying my tie too long, tying it too short,” Smith said. “Right away, I run and grab a hanger, and start bending this thing up.”
That very early prototype was a bit of a tough sell for his younger brother, Daniel Smith. The series of bends, formed a sort-of trapezoidal shape. the size of a tennis ball.
“I folded this thing up, and I was like, ‘Dan, check this masterpiece out,'” Ryan recalled. “And to him he saw like a bent hanger, and to me I saw like this new version of a tie.”
Two years later, the brothers now run ModernTie.
The company sells a modular version of the old idea.
The knots are made of plastic, but can also look like cloth, leather, or even have gold plating, for the upper-end customer. The cloth end of the tie easily magnetizes to the bottom, making the pieces interchangeable.
The brothers say the ties are often conversation-starters.
“They get blown away every time you pop the tie out,” Daniel Smith said. “It floors them. They’re like, ‘whoa! that is so cool!’ because they’re wearing ties every day.”
Ryan Smith says the ModernTie first gained traction among missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, thanks to a neighbor.
“Her daughter had a missionary that was going out. And so he ended up getting one first,” Ryan explained. “And when he went to the MTC, all of the other Elders were like, ‘oh my gosh!’ like ‘I’ve got to get myself one of those ties!'”
Since then, the ties have garnered attention from customers all over the world, and even been worn by some celebrities. But perhaps the most remarkable part of the Smith brothers’ story is where they came from.
“We weren’t the type of kids you’d normally think would go down that path,” Daniel started to explain. “That’s the thing about opioid addiction. It can really come up and hit anybody. No one is immune from it.”
Both Daniel and Ryan are recovering addicts. Both entered a rehab program in Arizona, known as the Anasazi Foundation.
“It’s a wilderness recovery treatment center.” Ryan said. “Both of us went there, both tried to escape the first day, but they drop you so far into the mountains that it’s near impossible to escape.”
Now, as business owners, they are working to give back to the cause, with a program they call Knot Another Life.
“Having this knot so different, and the tie hangs next to your heart, and we’ve lost like a lot of friends to addiction and stuff like that, so we just wanted this to really stand for something,” Ryan said.
Part of the profits at ModernTie go back to Anasazi, and to supporting prevention programs. The brothers are hoping their success story can help light a path for others.
“It shows that anybody can do the same thing that we can,” Daniel said. “You can be in really dark places, and turn around and end up being in a spot that you can help others, and have a business.”