Leawood Entrepreneur Creates Custom Bow Ties

Paul Kaster is the founder of Crooked Branch Studio, a local company creating unique handmade wooden bow ties that combine craftsmanship and style. With similar qualities of a classic, fabric bow tie, these wooden ties are smooth to the touch, rich in color and adjustable, making comfort a standard of every piece. Kaster was inspired to start his own business after receiving a wooden bow tie as a gift back in 2015.

“When I was 16, I got my first wooden bow tie and was really turned off by the quality of the woodworking and overall design,” Kaster says. “I set out to make my own version of the wooden bow tie, focusing on giving it contour and dimension, unlike the other ties I saw in the marketplace. Our wooden bow ties take the dimensionality and softness you love about classic, fabric bow ties and translates that into wood. They are made from a variety of domestic and imported hardwoods.”

Kaster went through countless prototypes, fabrics and woods until he was satisfied with the design, creating a tie that was wearable and more than just a novelty. After launching a Kickstarter campaign, Crooked Branch Studio officially launched in early 2016.

Wood isn’t the only material used to make ties. They have since expanded their collection to include bow ties made from recycled aerospace carbon fiber. By working with California’s top rocket manufacturers, Crooked Branch Studio has been able to repurpose carbon fiber cutoffs generated in the production of fuel tanks and boosters. This precious leftover material that would normally end up in the garbage is now repurposed into ties to create the first-ever aerospace grade carbon fiber bow ties.

“We work with California’s top aerospace companies to recycle their excess carbon fiber cutoffs with the help of a carbon fiber company in Los Angeles,” Kaster says. “Like our wooden bow ties, they are assembled right here in Kansas City.”

As a native Kansan, Kaster is proud to call Leawood home.

“Growing up in Leawood was an amazing experience because the city is filled with such high-achieving, successful people,” he says. “Throughout my childhood, I had many great role models that inspired me to pursue business and entrepreneurship. I would never have found them had I not lived in Leawood.”

Crooked Branch Studio contributes to saving the environment and feeding the hungry by donating 10 percent of its profits to Harvesters, the Midwestern-based organization striving to combat poverty by providing food and household products to over 620 not-for-profit agencies including emergency food pantries, homeless shelters, community kitchens and children’s homes.

Their most popular wooden bow ties are Zebrawood, Koa and Cherry. The Zebrawood tie is handcrafted from exotic zebrawood native to West Africa that grows in straight, interlocking stripes. The Koa tie is handcrafted from the native hardwoods in the islands of Hawaii. As the koa tree grows, the grain twists back and forth, creating a curl figure that’s visible in their finished ties. Cherry ties are handcrafted out of domestic cherry hardwood that’s grown, cut and milled sustainably in the United States. The wooden ties are then finished with mineral oil and beeswax to help prevent the wood from drying out while still keeping its natural feel. As for the carbon fiber ties, the Contour Tie is the most popular style, with its smooth, three-dimensional contour and pattern that gives the impression that the material is moving.

Kaster has exciting plans for 2018.

“We are focusing on expanding our options for weddings as well as developing matching wooden cufflinks and pocket squares.”

To date, Crooked Branch Studio has sold more than 2,000 wooden bow ties all over the U.S. and in more than 25 countries just in the past two years. In addition to their website, you can find their products in the Flying Pig Local Mercantile, Varnish and Vine, Made in KC as well as other boutiques around the country. For more information, visit CrookedBranchStudio.com.