By M. Scott Morris
OXFORD – Among other jobs, Hunter Knight has mowed grass and put up tents in The Grove. He’s also saved birthday and Christmas money, and it’s added up.
“Through the years, I’ve had different business ideas,” said Knight, 17, of Oxford. “None that I went through with, but they were ideas. I did the research and worked them out, but then they didn’t lead to anything. But I knew they would lead to something one day.”
That day was June 7, when he launched Properly Tied Clothing Co. He dreamed up the one-man operation about a year ago, and got the word out with Instagram, Twitter and other social media.
“I had a huge launch, crazy successful,” he said. “The business was running off itself in the first week and a half. I had paid myself back, essentially. Most start-ups are two years in and still trying to dig out of a hole, so I feel petty good about that.”
His first product was a T-shirt with an American flag made of red and blue bow ties, and it remains a top seller. Other shirts followed, including one with a map of the Southeast and the words, “The South: The Place I Call Home.”
“You’ll have someone from New York or Maine order a shirt about the South,” he said. “The only thing I can think of is they used to live here or have ties here.”
He designs his shirts and bow ties.
Manufacturing is handled at plants in North Carolina, South Carolina and Mississippi.
He has shipped apparel to 42 states, and by the end of this week, he expects his line to be carried by 19 retail outlets in Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and Virginia.
The senior at Lafayette High School usually wakes up at 6 a.m., gets to school by 7:30 a.m. and leaves at 11:45 a.m. From then on, it’s a mixture of homework, business and whatever social time he can fit in. Knight is president of Beta Club and Future Business Leaders of America.
“I’m lucky to go to sleep by 12 or 1,” he said. “Everything’s got to be done. It falls to me, not somebody else.”
Knight welcomes the responsibility.
“I’ve always been detail-oriented,” he said, “and wanted to start something on my own to call my own.”
He’s been accepted to the University of Mississippi, but his venture has changed his thinking about school.
“For I don’t know how many years, I wanted to do pharmacy. That’s what I was going to do,” he said. “Recently, I’ve been shifting to business and marketing, but pharmacy is still there. I’m conflicted.”
The conflict is natural for someone his age, but not many of his peers wonder about adding staff to their profitable companies.
“I would like to entice my mom to work for me,” he said, “but I don’t think she would do it.”
His parents are involved by default. Their house overflows with Properly Tied items to be shipped. Knight’s room is full, as is the guest room, living room, garage and basement.
“It’s everywhere, just everywhere,” he said, “so a new building is the next step.”