How a Henrico teacher turned his signature style into a blossoming business

Posted at 10:30 PM, Mar 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-30 23:33:14-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- Whether it is in or out of his history classroom at Virginia Randolph, Keylon Mayo practices what he preaches. First impressions are lasting ones.

"Commanding people’s attention and having that confidence,” said Keylon.

It’s not just that he has a grasp of ancient history you notice first. But by the way he dresses. Keylon can teach a lesson in fashion. Specifically, neckwear.

“There have been some ties where the bowtie was out past their ears. The rule is keeping it in your jawline nice and sharp,” said Keylon.

Keylon Mayo

At his home in Henrico, the VCU graduate can choose between hundreds of bowties. Boxes of them in nearly every pattern and color. It’s his signature look. But living on a teacher's salary, looking dapper can get downright expensive for the married father of two.

Keylon didn’t want to sacrifice style. So, two years ago the Highland Springs football coach took matters into his own hands quite literally.

“I still have the same Walmart sewing machine and I just started creating.”

Yes. Keylon sews his own bowties with precision.

“I think I am really OCD when it comes to my craft,” added Keylon.

There were struggles at first. Lots of them.

Keylon Mayo

“The first several I sewed the wrong way. I burned myself one time. It was a little traumatic at first,” he said.

His bowties were not landing on the cover of GQ.

But with practice comes perfection.

“I’m really getting into the paisley and floral prints. That is my thing right now,” said Keylon.

Now the man who is comfortable in his own fabric can't stop.

“Every day since I started two years ago, I sew to work on my craft,” explained Keylon.

This is no one man operation. His oldest daughter lends a helping hand and foot. She has watched her Dad blossom.

“His first bow tie did not turn out great,” she said.

Keylon Mayo and daughter

Selling between $20 and $30, Keylon wants to keep his creations affordable.

“I’m in the fabric store say out of seven days a week… six,” said Keylon.

His friends tease about his sewing prowess, but Keylon is getting the last chuckle.

“They laugh and joke. They laugh and joke. And they say, ‘Hey, can you make something for me?’ So now it’s kind of like, I got you now, so. Yeah.”

Keylon has a growing customer base from Atlanta to Austin. His advice for anyone with an idea?

“You got to make the attempt. I always reference Michael Jordan. You got to take the shot. If you never take the shot you’ll never have the opportunity to make the basket,” said Keylon.

Keylon Mayo

Dressed for success as Mr. Kleen Kut.

“Once you have the bowtie around your neck, you can imagine the combinations,” said Keylon.

Keylon Mayo a businessman whose man cave will leave you in stitches.

If you are looking for one of Keylon’s creations, you can find them at the VMFA. Keylon will also appear at The Spring Bizarre Bazaar in April. Keylon says he wants to expand to making men’s suits.

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