Like Squiddledee’s one-of-a-kind tie designs, there was nothing ordinary about Squiddledee Ties founder Noelle Kowalczyk’s path to the men’s fashion industry. After a long career as a successful attorney, the proud Buffalo native decided to knock on the door of her long-time dream of becoming a fashion designer and founded Squiddledee Ties.
Noelle’s mission: to create stunning, yet sophisticated ties that are specially designed to mesh with a variety of singular personalities. No, we’re not talking about the vanilla stripes and solids that pepper every courthouse from Maine to Hawaii. We’re talking stunning styles with captivating designs like “Fish or Cut Bait” and “The Bluebird of Happiness.” Unlike the run-of-the-mill ties you find in department stores, Noelle insisted that Squiddledee Ties be made right here in the U.S. with 100 percent premium silk.
A Hometown Tie with Hometown Pride: Buffalo Proud
With an extensive line of extraordinary ties already in her repertoire, Noelle wanted to pay homage to her hometown roots and create a tie especially for Buffalonians. So in 2015, Noelle created “Buffalo Proud,” a classy necktie for anyone hailing from the City of Good Neighbors. To get an idea of the inspiration behind Squiddledee’s hottest new offering, we sat down with Noelle and asked her to give us a glimpse into her hometown pride.
SR: So Noelle, tell us a little about your background. How did you get started working with ties?
NK: Although I have been practicing law for over 20 years, I’ve always wanted to be a fashion designer. I have a degree in fashion merchandising but never did anything with it. Several years ago, I began attending evening seminars about the fashion business—everything from designing and retailing handbags to t-shirts to importing and exporting.
In my research, I learned that the neckwear business (ties) has historically been dominated by men. I thought to myself, why not bring a female perspective to ties? Having spent years surrounded by tie-wearing lawyers, it was clear to me that men's neckwear could benefit from a woman's point of view.
SR: What's your connection to Buffalo?
NK: I was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. I went to undergraduate and law school at the University of Buffalo and worked as a lawyer in Buffalo after I graduated from law school. I credit my family and my "growing-up" years in Buffalo with helping me develop a strong work ethic. My parents and most of my immediate and extended family continue to live in Buffalo.
SR: Tell me about the tie you designed for Buffalo?
NK: Although I have been living in New York City for well over a decade, I still consider Buffalo my home. I wanted to create a tie in honor of the Queen City and for all my fellow Buffalonians, including those who have left the city and live elsewhere. I wanted to design something special that hadn't been done before, that wasn't comical or silly looking, and that tastefully announced the wearer's connection to Buffalo. I travel quite extensively and have met many, many people who have an affiliation with Buffalo and are very proud of it. I call the buffalo tie “Buffalo Proud” for that reason.
SR: What's the thing you miss most about Buffalo?
NK: Of course, I miss my family. There is a real sense of history and tradition in Buffalo and family is a very important part of that equation. I also have to mention the food (Buffalo pizza, beef on weck and pierogi), the many cultural festivals, and the beaches. Yes, the beaches. Although Buffalo is well known for its snow, the summers in Buffalo aren’t humid at all, and Lake Erie provides a gorgeous backdrop for beaching, boating and soaking up the sun. Some of my fondest memories are of times spent at Lake Erie with my family.