Things I Can't Live Without

Politicos want his ties, but the Vineyard Vines CEO wants a boat.
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Ian Murray

Occupation: CEO and co-founder -- with his older brother, Shep -- of Vineyard Vines, maker of preppy pastel ties with whimsical (yet office-approved) designs that depict everything from lacrosse sticks to martini glasses. John Kerry commissioned "JK 04" ties and scarves that he and Teresa wear on the campaign trail. But, as Murray points out, the company is "tie-partisan": George Bush (41, not 43) has also been spotted sporting the cravats.

Age and home: 29; Greenwich, Conn.

Annual revenue and employees: $15 million; 40.

Knot a bad idea: In December 1997, during a leisurely game of backgammon and halfway through a case of Heineken, Ian and Shep got an idea. "We said, let's move to Martha's Vineyard and make a tie that says, 'I go to the Vineyard' or 'I like to go fishing," Ian recalls.

Power play: Though they sold many ties the summer after they quit their day jobs in 1998, it got tougher once the tourist season ended. They were so desperate they challenged a storeowner to a game of backgammon. If Shep won, the guy would place an order. He's been carrying their line ever since.

Un-tied: One of the best parts of running a successful tie business is not having to wear a tie to work, Ian says. "Everybody here wears shorts, T-shirts, and flip-flops." Why is the office in Greenwich now instead of the Vineyard? Ian says it became too hard to operate a growing business from the island.

Things I Can't Live Without

Casio Exilim EX-S3 digital camera, $349: "I take this small camera with me almost everywhere. One night we were at a party, and we met Heidi Klum. And I was like 'Aw! I gotta get a picture of this!' You never know what's going to happen."

Orvis T-3 9-foot, 9-weight fly rod, $595: "This is a versatile rod for saltwater fishing that's great for catching anything from bonefish to striped bass. The best thing I ever caught with it was a sailfish in the Florida Keys."

Martin HD-35 acoustic guitar, $3,499: "There's something about playing a Martin that just feels good. It kind of earns respect. I'll play it sitting behind my desk. Half of the people who work here play guitar. When the office travels, we look like Lynyrd Skynyrd."

...and What I Covet

Buddy Davis customized 48-foot sport fishing boat, approximately $1 million: "I would get a navy hull, with lots of teak and mahogany on the topsides. I like the open deck plan because it doesn't isolate the captain -- me -- from the rest of the crew. It's finished nicely down below and could easily be my home at sea."

Last updated: Nov 1, 2004

RYAN UNDERWOOD

Ryan Underwood is a writer and editor living in Nashville, Tennessee.




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