Meet Jenny Hill, owner of Lonesome Traveler
We got to take a peek into Jenny Hill’s shaw neighborhood studio and ask her a few questions about her business, Lonesome Traveler.
What is Lonesome Traveler?
Lonesome Traveler is a line of classically constructed men’s accessories featuring custom neckties, pocket squares and tie clips.
You don’t seem so lonesome. Where did the name Lonesome Traveler come from?
The name Lonesome Traveler came from a book of the same title by Jack Kerouac. I started Lonesome Traveler when I moved to Dallas on a one year stint with my husband and had time on my hands to create. As someone who is surrounded by friends, in a new city, the name seemed fitting and somewhat tongue-in-cheek. As I have grown to be in the wedding industry, I have fallen in love with the name all over again, simply for its irony.
What made you want to start your own business?
I created Lonesome Traveler out of a desire to have a business that I could run from home as a working mother, applying my sewing skills and love of menswear. There was a noticeable gap in attention to high end men’s accessories in the handmade artisanal world and we wanted to fill that gap. The expansion into weddings was organic, one wedding leading to another, and we found that grooms and brides wearing ties are our absolute favorite clients. Not only are they so excited to pick out custom fabrics for their big day, but they are able to give a unique gift to their groomsmen, ushers and fathers.
What has your biggest business hurdle been?
Trying to do everything solo. Sharing my process intimidated me and delegating tasks seemed like more trouble than it was worth. But, to grow and spend time with my family, I needed to hire folks to help me get orders out the door. I have three strong and talented women who help me out. One helps with marketing, one with sewing and the other with watching my son and packing orders. I had to become comfortable with the idea that even though they were tasks I could do, I didn’t have to do them all myself.
How has motherhood changed your approach to business?
I was nervous as a working mom that I would be considered less hip or relevant, but quite the contrary! People love when I share pictures and stories about my family on social media. I also bring my son to every meeting I have with brides and grooms and I think he’s a better salesman than I am!
What aspect of Lonesome Traveler makes you feel the most proud?
I absolutely love doing neckties for weddings, so meeting with brides and grooms and getting them on board to include custom Lonesome Traveler neckties in their wedding is a process that I love and am really good at. It doesn’t even feel like sales! Brides wearing gowns get all the attention, and it’s so fun to see how excited grooms and brides wearing suits are to pick out something to make them shine on their big day.
Have you faced any adversity being a woman in your field?
Honestly, being a woman in the handmade world of neckties has helped me rather than hurt me. About half my clientele are women, primarily queer and also non-binary folks. I offer to make my ties extra long, short, skinny, wide, etc. as I know everybody is shaped differently, and I want to make fashionable neckties in all sizes. Traditionally a lot of XL ties are very limited and very wide, and often can only find short ties in the kids section of a department store. I am proud to be a part of the queer wedding scene and I am excited to see it grow in 2018.
Share one of your favorite memories about your business.
I once had a father of a groom come to my studio to pick out a necktie for his son’s wedding. His son wasn’t a client of mine, but this gentleman had seen my product in Ladue News. He told me on the phone he had learned about Lonesome Traveler from a fashion rag he had read, he even came to my studio with the clipping. I, mistakenly, was nervous that my ties would be too skinny or too wild for him. On the contrary, he showed up looking very sharp. He picked out one of my favorite florals, called Baroque Rose, to pair with a blue seersucker suit. He told me his goal was to look “really hip and to outshine his son on his big day.” He may have been my favorite client ever.
a woman who is the most respected or prominent person in a particular field