Tie The Knot, founded by Modern Family’s Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his husband Justin Mikita, is celebrating its 5th anniversary of raising funds to support LGBTQ equality. In honor of the anniversary, the stars of Will & Grace—Sean Hayes, Eric McCormack, Debra Messing and Megan Mullally—have each designed a bow tie for the new collection, which will debut on October 10. Jesse Tyler Ferguson has also designed a limited-edition bow to commemorate the milestone. We spoke with Jesse on looking back at the past five years, his celebrity collaborators, and what’s in store for the future.
What was the inspiration to launch Tie the Knot? JESSE TYLER FERGUSON: Five years ago we only had seven states where LGBTQ couples could be married legally. My (then) fiancé and I saw an opportunity to raise awareness & funds for the organizations fighting for marriage equality. Although we were passionate about the cause, we wanted our angle to be lighthearted. Bow Ties sold for future marriages just felt right.
In the past five years how much money has TTK raised for LGBTQ equality, and how many organizations have you worked with? JTF: We have raised over $900,000 and we have been able to write checks to The Human Rights Campaign, Freedom To Marry, ACLU and the American Foundation for Equal Rights. We were also able to travel to a few battleground States (Utah, Illinois, New Mexico) to meet personally with lawmakers & rally around events to help with public education. Lastly, Tie The Knot runs an extensive public education campaign through strategic partnerships, social media & campaigns to help better the lives of LGBTQ equality every day.
Describe the limited edition 5th anniversary bow. JTF: The Anniversary Bow is gorgeous & simple—implementing our signature Owl logo on a navy bow. It’s perfect for a gala or a night out on the town.
How did you convince the stars of Will & Grace (Debra Messing, Megan Mullally, Sean Hayes and Eric McCormack) to create special bow ties? JTF: We just asked them! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting them all separately over the past 9 years. Naturally, I was thrilled to meet them. Not only are Justin and I huge fans, Will & Grace is one of the shows that opened the door for Modern Family. I was thrilled that they all said yes to designing ties for us. It’s such a special collection.
TTK has featured a number of celebrity designs over the last five years. What do you tell your famous friends before they begin to create a signature tie? JTF: We tell them to bring whatever inspires them to the table. The sky’s the limit with the designs. Some of our guest designers go as far as sketching actual designs while others give us more broad ideas and color schemes. Our friends at The Tie Bar have been such great creative collaborators & work with any amount of inspiration to turn the look into something special. They can make anything work.
Talk about TTK’s partnership with The Tie Bar, how it came about and how it is helping to get your designs out in front of the public. JTF: The Tie Bar is, by all means, the foundation of Tie The Knot. 5 years ago we cold called them and pitched the idea and they were game. The rest was history. At the time, it wasn’t as common for corporations and businesses to support LGBTQ equality—although it should’ve been (and still today, some corporations choose to not support it, which seems crazy & bad for business), but The Tie Bar took a risk and we think it paid off. The message felt clear, organic and right—and the partnership has been solid ever since.
What do you hope TTK can accomplish in the next five years? JTF: LGBTQ people are being challenged today by this administration—so I hope Tie The Knot can continue to be a light hearted beacon of support to continue to press legislators on prioritizing equality, persuade the public that it’s better to choose equality and make everyone look damn good while doing it. We will continue supporting the organizations that are in the trenches fighting for equal rights day in and day out—for as long as the bow tie will let us.
Celebrate the 5th Anniversary of Tie The Knot with these celebrity designs, exclusively available through The Tie Bar, online and in-stores. $20 of every $25 purchase is donated directly back to Tie The Knot in support of LGBTQ initiatives.