Meet Nisha Blackwell, owner of bow tie company Knotzland | Features | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Meet Nisha Blackwell, owner of bow tie company Knotzland

click to enlarge Nisha Blackwell - CP PHOTO: TERENEH IDIA
CP photo: Tereneh Idia
Nisha Blackwell

Nisha Blackwell
Founder and CEO of Knotzland, a very small bow tie company Knotzland.com
IG: @Knotzland
FB: Knotzland


Tell me what you're wearing today.

Today, I am wearing something very comfortable: a turtleneck from Amour Vert, an online sustainable fashion company. When I went to Atlanta and got to experience their retail store, I was blown away with how transparent they were, and to see a bigger brand pull it all together to go from online to a brick-and-mortar, it felt very near and dear. Now is the time of year to have a good black turtleneck. 

With Knotzland, you do that very well, representation of all people who like to wear bow ties.

We started out creating things in menswear for the expression to shine through, colorful and all of these, but I started finding out that there are women who like to wear bow ties, there are non-binary, gender-nonconforming individuals who like to wear bow ties, and so it felt that we couldn’t limit ourselves. I love the structure, detail, [and] tailoring of menswear and that’s what draws me to menswear — it’s not about men versus women. ... Knotzland is for everyone.

click to enlarge CP PHOTO: TERENEH IDIA
CP photo: Tereneh Idia

Back to what you're wearing.

[My shoes] are from Ten Toes, '70s style, floral. Disclaimer: I wear a size 10.5... so it is hard to find nice shoes, because the sizes 10, 10.5, 11 sell out. They remind me of '70s go-go boots. I love wearing them, the personality of them, so I can plan an outfit and the boots speak for themselves. 

Tell me about your jewelry.

The earrings are from Amour Vert. I love earrings. They are brass and it is something I can wear every day. As I get older, I just want to pick up things and go, put on things and go. The necklace: I was in Milwaukee on tour with Monmade [a craft business accelerator]. We went to Sherman Phoenix [a space for Black-owned businesses created in the aftermath of the 2016 police shooting of Sylville Smith]. Walking into the space, I just lit up. I wanted something special, so I got this [silver talisman] and I have worn it almost every day since. 

I have to ask, because I saw a recent post on Instagram about your manicure and Big Apple Red, my favorite Opi nail color.

I love getting my nails done. I don’t always have the wherewithal to get them done but I realize how it becomes a tool for what I do. So it helps me grasp threads, it helps me physically make the bow ties. They are a tool. [Laughs] I usually get a neutral, natural color, but this time I wanted to feel fierce.

click to enlarge Nisha Blackwell - CP PHOTO: TERENEH IDIA
CP photo: Tereneh Idia
Nisha Blackwell

I also would love to talk about other body adornment if that is okay.

I have three tattoos. The one on my wrist is the first tattoo I got. It was [such a] little place, I probably should not have had this man tattoo me. [Laughs] Everyone asks me if it is closed. There is a thing about not having closed circle around your wrist. [Some believe having an enclosed ring, circle around your arm is bad luck]. But it is not closed, it is a Z-shape. The second one, I probably should not talk about that one. [Laughs] The third one: I was in an accident and had a nasty scar on my foot. As soon as it healed, I got my middle name, “Love,” tattooed on it. 

So what are you working on now and looking forward to in the near future?

There’s a huge public thing that I cannot speak about yet. I am also looking forward to [Pittsburgh Magazine's] 40 Under 40 meet and greet. 

Personally, as a creative, I have always been scrappy. I always wanted to make and create but now I am looking at this growth that is challenging the scrappy young person and it is time to grow up. [It's] time to do the business. You have people counting on you. Time to plan Knotzland and make it a sustainable, viable, lucrative company. It’s time to do it. 

Location Details

Knotzland Bowties Studio & Showroom

303 S. Trenton Ave, Pittsburgh Wilkinsburg

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