Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Old Man: Pulpit Supply

I was browsing the Cordial Churchman website yesterday (new site rocks, by the way), checking out their new fall bow-ties, when I saw a link for "Pulpit Supply." I checked it out, but still didn't really understand what it was all about, so I asked Andy to explain it, and if he wanted to, write something up for the blog. So here it is, straight from the face (or neck, I suppose) of the company himself.

The collection has been in the ideation phase for about a year. (I just wanted to use the word 'ideation'.) The Cordial Churchman came along, almost accidentally, as something of a market-disruptor, in that we offered handmade-to-order-in-the-USA bow ties through a direct-to-customer, online, social-media-buzzed, high-touch delivery format for half the price of Asian-made bow ties at bricks-and-mortar retailers. Over the last few years, we've had lots of inquiries from retailers interested in carrying our bow ties. Retailers like Mast General Store and Levi's in the USA, and The Gentleman's Corner in Belgium, have carried the brand. Other stores like Ball and Buck and Just Madras have had us make their house label bow ties for them. 

But we found that it was best to create a new, top-shelf, more closely edited collection to offer to retailers and their customers. Pulpit Supply is a way for us to introduce ourselves to people through their trusted clothiers. While e-commerce is incredibly exciting, there's still nothing like walking into a leathery men's store and seeing customers physically 
interacting with your product. 

But Pulpit Supply is also a way for us to play a little bit of hardball in the e-commerce side of the industry (Doesn't it sound really sinister to say it like that?). Everybody has told us that we need to raise our prices. We think it's wonderful that people want to put more money in our pockets, but jacking our prices up would undermine what The Cordial Churchman is all about. With Pulpit Supply, we've put even more time, attention to detail, care in fabric selection, and---everyone's favorite part of getting a bow tie parcel---fun packaging, into a special collection. The line has a lot of coherence where The Cordial Churchman stresses variety and options. 

Tons of people tell us that The Cordial Churchman's quality rivals any brand of bow tie on the market. So we're excited to offer a little luxury to go with that quality in the introduction of Pulpit Supply.

Finally, you may be wondering about the name. Many people don't know that when I became a minister at an old, established church, I quickly had to learn how to stop dressing and acting like a college bum. I figured many other young men out there were facing the same steep maturation curve as they made a similar transition. So I was going to start a blog (that would, of course, end in a book contract!) called The Cordial Churchman, showing young ministers the joy and practical payoff of cultivating social and sartorial graces. Thank God Ellie stole my title, because I would have made a fool out of myself really fast. Pulpit Supply has a vocationally related provenance as well. When a church is without a preacher, they go looking for "pulpit supply" -- someone who can fill their pulpit while they're looking for their next preacher. When you're a young seminary student, you're desperate for preaching experience as well as cash. So one of the best gigs you can get is a "stated pulpit supply" arrangement with a church. We think there's something inherently 'preachy' about wearing a bow tie. Like it or not, you're telling everyone something about yourself when you tie one up. The trick is, of course, to make it seem natural, so that you can get your sartorial point across without looking, or feeling, like a goober. Our part is to provide the vestments; our customers will have to preach the sermon. Or something like that. Of course, in the end, we just think it sounds cool. 


 (you know it's a good post when the word "goober" follows hard after the word "ideation")

Check some of this stuff out:

 The Wilbur

The Eli

Handmade Lapel Flowers

There's a bunch more awesome stuff there. Neckties, scarves, and pocket squares. Check it out.

Thanks to Andy for providing the bulk of this post.


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