Photos: Kazi Tahsin Agaz Apurbo
In the city of Colorado, a certain type of bow tie worn by the locals was spotted, it especially caught the eyes of university students. The design is vibrant and what makes them stand out is that they are made of Katan. These bow ties are called Tiger Bows and are becoming quite popular among the trendsetting society of Colorado. This trend started just a couple of months ago at the hands of emerging social entrepreneur Wahid Hossain, popularly known as the 'bow tie guy'. What was first just a business proposal for the Resolution Project at the Harvard Model United Nations is now rapidly evolving into a fashion statement.
While studying at East West University, Wahid was brought down by the mundane life of a business student. “I was very depressed. From my life at school to university, I saw no difference in the studying method,” says Wahid, “to make life a little interesting I started applying for conferences, both here and abroad.” While attending these conferences Wahid had an epiphany-- Bangladesh should be its own brand rather than being the next Malaysia or Dubai, “and realising this, changed my whole perspective towards our business models”.
To make something on his own, Wahid started planning for Oikkaton in 2014, a business accelerator to help rural entrepreneurs of Bangladesh with strategies and focused consultancy. “It was my last semester at university and I was also on my way to attend the Harvard Model United Nations,” says Wahid. To submit the Resolution Project, Wahid made the business plan for Oikkaton and its first project-- the Tiger Bow.
After the Resolution project, Wahid was still not convinced to turn this idea into a reality. “After Harvard, I was invited to Watson University, Colorado, to participate in their venture accelerator programme,” says Wahid. The Tiger Bow slowly started to come to a shape during Wahid's time in Colorado. “Everyone thought it was an interesting idea and I thought why not go for it.” Bow ties were already in trend, and making it with our own Katan fabrics with the help of our own artisans were a catch in Colorado.
“Oikkaton was already working with a local artisan named Sabina Chowdhury. At that time she was making handmade bed sheets. To accommodate the bow tie was a challenge for the both of us. After enormous amounts of 'youtubeing', and skype calls we finally got hold of it. Meanwhile, Wahid was selected to give a speech at the Ted at Colorado University. His plan was to present the Tiger Bow there. “I told Sabina to send me ten bow ties and at the event was the first time Tiger Bow was presented in front of an audience.”
Right now Tiger bow is delivering its products in Colorado which will soon be all over the United States. “Bow ties are still not common in our country, but it's quite a trend in the US. Each bow tie costs 50 dollars and the earned money is divided among the artisan and the company to make it sustainable,” says Wahid. Wahid's aim is to give international recognition to our artisans through Oikkaton. “Handmade crafts are quite neglected these days. My goal is to make the world see how valuable it is, though we have a long way to go and Tiger Bow is just a small step towards that.”