What’s the classiest way to communicate your passion for cryptocurrency? How about a subtle & stylish Bitcoin tie?
Since 2005, Cyberoptix Tie Lab has been bringing unique designs to neckties and allowing for an enormous amount of customization. Looking for a gift for that guy who loves baseball? They’ve got it, and they have one for the football fan too. Or maybe archery? Their designs are organized by theme, and with options like Circuit Boards, Aviation, Weaponry, and Architecture, there’s sure to be a tie for everyone. The Lab offers an incredible amount of color combination options (over 100 fabric colors & over 100 printing ink colors), and they make all of the ties by hand in their large Detroit studio.
Some of our favorite days are spent in dusty museum cabinets of curiosities, junk shops and estate sales to find obscure bits of inspiration that we’ll re-draw in the tie shape.
It’s hard to choose a favorite out of the wide variety of designs offered, but Bethany Shorb, the founder & owner, says that the Bitcoin pattern is hers: “I enjoy twisting traditional repeating pattern motifs, ones that look like a traditional necktie designs but have a little nerdy/enthusiast something extra hidden within the pattern. You might not realize that extra bit is there until you see it up close or have pre-existing knowledge of what it is.”
Emily Braun: How did you hear about Bitcoin? What were your first impressions of it?
Bethany Shorb: I think I heard about it around four years ago; I knew it was a thing – and a thing that I should really know more about, especially since I accept payments for things! At the time, we had this really crappy, old school, hand-coded website with 250 pages and absolutely no content management system or merchant account. It was only backended by Paypal, so I had no idea how to integrate Bitcoin acceptance into my cart. Basically, we grew stupid fast, and I was set up for managing ten products, not thinking it was going to go anywhere…typical growing pains stuff. So yeah, it was something I wanted to be on top of early, but I didn’t have the chops to implement it as early as I had wanted.
Braun: What made you decide to accept Bitcoin? How is it beneficial to a business to accept Bitcoin?
Shorb: Simply, customers kept asking to pay by Bitcoin, so we felt we had to. It’s important to give customers what they want, need, and ask for. If a few people are taking the time to ask me about it each month, how many people are keeping quiet and not bothering to reach out? Lots! Probably ten times that, at least. We also heavily cater to a geek and enthusiast market, and I have a feeling there is a lot of crossover with our product themes and those who are into Bitcoin and the blockchain.
Finally, this year we got our online shop on a real CMS (Shopify), which is really easy to integrate checkout with either Coinbase or Bitpay. If you choose to instantly convert to USD, I see the simple acceptance layer as no different than accepting Canadian Dollars, Euros, or Pounds. We operate in a global web-space, and it seems silly not to accept payment in all currency formats that our customers prefer.
Although I would have liked to have been accepting Bitcoin earlier, I think we’re still reasonably early adopters, at least in the independent maker online market. Being early adopters has served us really well, having had an online shop before Etsy existed and having our shop open on Etsy’s marketplace during their inaugural year in 2006. It’s still thriving there today. I don’t think we’d be where we are now had we not gotten our foot in the door early on in e-commerce. I don’t want to get left behind with Bitcoin either.
Braun: In general, what are some of the ways that you think Bitcoin could bring about positive changes?
Shorb: I am really looking forward to Bitcoin facilitating cross-border electronic payments, because the current system is insufferable and outdated. From a manufacturing and global trade standpoint, I was buying some equipment overseas last month, and my stupid Western Union payment failed, causing over a month delay in getting a really vital piece of machinery for our product-line expansion. Adding insult to injury, that $3K for a heat press was then held up for weeks in back-and-forth banking limbo. That wouldn’t happen with Bitcoin.
Braun: Have you ever purchased something with Bitcoin? And if not, why not?
Shorb: I sure want to, but few (if any) places that I buy equipment and supplies from accept it as a form of payment. Fabric, art supply, and industrial equipment manufacturers have been a little slow on the adoption front, and I really don’t buy much else. Right now, I’m stashing what I have and taking the long view.
Braun: Where do you see the future of Bitcoin heading?
Shorb: Last week, I returned from Summit at Sea 2015 and was fortunate to attend a number of brain-breaking, mind-expanding talks about Bitcoin, led by forward-thinking industry elites such as Brian Forde, Brock Pierce, Jalak Jobanputra, and the Winklevoss brothers. I learned more in a couple hours of talks than I can even adequately explain. As a part-time DJ I look forward to DRM being attached to blockchain. Playing out at 2am after recently getting a new computer (how criminal) and then discovering that a favorite track you bought & legally own won’t play because it’s authorized on too many of your devices already is the absolute worst. Decriminalizing and adding a privacy layer to your own purchases is a great start, as is the idea of micropayments to facilitate the compensation of content creation.
Braun: Why is it important to you & your customers that all ties are made by hand?
Shorb: We print everything to order so that we can keep costs down for our customers (we don’t have any printed inventory sitting around – that gets expensive). Printing to order also allows for infinite customizations. People really appreciate being able to have personalized pieces, even if it is as simple as a crazy color combination. Want our Hops and Wheat print on purple and chartreuse? Get on with your bad self.
For only $5 more, you can build a necktie, bow tie, pocket square, or scarf in the perfect color and design combination that is unique to your style, the event you’re planning, or the organization you belong to. You can choose from over 100 fabric colors, over 100 printing ink colors, six tie sizes, countless fabric choices, and over 275 graphics.
You can’t walk into a mall or department store and get that level of personalized, bespoke service, even from the most upscale retailer. Where can you walk in and say “I want that pattern, but in chartreuse and eggplant, but in a slim tie, and I need it in two days. Oh and I need 10 of them.” We can do that.
Braun: I love all of the ways that Cyberoptix is involved with the community, including your partnership with Grow Detroit’s Young Talent. Why is community involvement important for a company?
Shorb: We’re proud to have been in business in Detroit for nearly a decade, and we want to give back to the community that has supported our growth. I haven’t really had many mentors in my life, and I feel I could have gotten a lot further a lot faster and made a lot fewer mistakes had I had that kind of guidance. I guess I hope we can be that person or place to someone in need? We want to share what we can through assisting charitable organizations with in-kind donations, a facility to help boost student internship programs, youth mentoring support, and other creative ways to help make ties with our community.
By assisting young people in the city with gaining a quality work experience and inspiring their own entrepreneurship skills, hopefully they’ll translate what they’ve learned here and in time, create jobs for others in the future. As budgets for art education diminish, we want to demonstrate to young adults that there still are many possibilities for fruitful careers in the arts, especially when combined with technology.
Braun: Your studio cat is so cute! What does he think about Bitcoin?
Shorb: He loves it; he’s stashing coins away hoping to find a site that accepts it for catnip. Once he does, he’s going to log on and drain my account, and I won’t know until I see a bale of it on my doorstep, and he’s salivating with saucer eyes.
– Emily Braun
To explore all of the designs offered by Cyberoptix Tie Lab, click here!