Still excited from attending and participating in the 2014 Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference and Expo in Columbus, Ohio, George R. Howard continues to work hard to perfect and market his Ziggi Tie Piece product.
“What an experience! I had the opportunity to get my product in front of a lot of people including entrepreneurs, executives, venture capitalists, buyers and distributors,” said Howard. “Now my goal is to continue getting the Ziggi in front of customers, to launch a capital campaign and to move the business to the next level.”
The Ziggi Tie Piece, he explains is for the executive man with style. “It is for a professional man and anyone who cares about their appearance.” The Ziggi Tie Piece, Ziggi as he refers to it is designed to flow with the movement of your body. Made from soft blended wool felt material in white or blue, Howard said it easily slides in the tie label and hooks to the shirt. “The non-restricting and machine washable Ziggi complements a tie clip because the clip can stay attached to the tie while the Ziggi secures the tie’s motion,” he describes. “It provides a man the comfort of knowing that they are looking their best.”
Howard, the Training and Development Manager for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Insurance Division knows from first-hand experience the need for such an item. As a trainer he says he is constantly in motion, which often results in his tie moving out of place. But it is because of a photograph he saw of his self with Susan Taylor founder and CEO of the National CARES Mentoring Movement and editor-in-chief emeritus of Essence Magazine with his tie buckled under his tie clip that triggered the concept for the Ziggi. “I was not pleased with the way I looked. I was not looking my best or presenting my best image,” said the 40-year-old professional.
The photograph was taken at the end of February of 2013 and by February of this year he had created and designed the product, found a company to make it, developed the packaging, created a website, and is currently in selling mode.
With a heavy concentration on social media sites he says it can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Ziggis can be purchased from his website, http://www.ziggitiepiece.com by using all major credit cards or Pay Pal. It can also be purchased at the Ujamaa Collective at 1901 Centre Avenue.
Currently operating the business solo, Howard says one of his goals is to sell Ziggis from a kiosk in several local Malls. “There is a buzz going around about the Ziggi,” Howard indicates enthusiastically. “While in Columbus during the BE Conference men would walk up to me and lift their tie to show that they were wearing it. The same happens to me at work and on the streets in Pittsburgh.”
His Columbus visit, Howard said provided him the opportunity to meet the organizer of the Fatherhood Expose and as a result he will be selling and promoting Ziggis during their activities in different cities. He also is scheduled to participate in the New York Men’s Fashion Expo August 2 through the 4 and the Chicago Men’s Club, September 8 to 10.
“One other great opportunity I experienced was pitching and auditioning for Shark Tank,” he expressed. “I am waiting to hear if I move to the next level, which is filming a video at their expense. From there the LA producers decide if I make the cut to be on the show.”
A Detroit native and Pittsburgh resident nearly three years, Howard as UPMC’s Training and Development Manager is responsible for Affordable Care Act compliance and corporate knowledge. While in Detroit he held leadership positions at the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News and Gannett Media Properties, where he lead strategic initiatives such as managing their properties’ transition to digital platforms and revenue models which included training and development. He also managed their in-house advertising agency division.
A strong advocate for education and training, he received his MBA from the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business and obtained his bachelors from Wayne State University in Detroit. He also is a Harvard University, Maynard Media Academy fellow.
Possessing a friendly, positive and energetic personality, Howard identifies his ultimate goal as having a strong thriving business that will allow him to give back to the community. His philosophy is that being successful is more than making money. “It is about helping people.” One way that he currently gives back is by serving as a Reading is Fundamental Reading Mentor in the Pittsburgh Public School elementary system. He also enjoys being a member of the National Black MBAs.
Committed to the success of the Ziggi Tie Piece, Howard views his product being as successful as brands like Gucci and Fendi. “I named the tie piece Ziggi because it is cool, fun, easy to remember and sounds similar to Gucci and Fendi.
Now embarking upon a capital campaign, Howard said he needs money to properly market the product to reach a wider customer base and for product development. “I’m looking to develop a product designed for women. Something in the accessory line offering a sense of sophistication.”
Viewing this time of year as his season, Howard says the good thing about his product is that at $7.00 it is affordable for anyone’s budget. “I am excited because the Ziggi is great for grads and Dads during their very important occasions.”