Artistic bow ties made from discarded items

- Comics, board games, Legos, even sneaker boxes all become bow ties at Wonder Lee 123 Designs, a Brooklyn-based brand with a focus on upcycling. Take a flyer, record cover, coffee sleeve or business card and Wonder Lee will make it into a bow tie for you.

The business started with Lee's passion for turning trash into art. Lee says she would go around the streets of New York collecting things that people had thrown away. She still saw beauty in those items and used them to create three-dimensional pieces of art.

It wasn't until a friend told Lee her outfit needed a bow tie at an art show that she started turning her art in accessories. Lee says she grabbed a napkin off the table and made herself a bow tie right there. And that's where the idea started to flow.

In 2011, Lee lost her job and started making bow ties full time, selling them on and walking around the city streets with a suitcase full of product trying to spread the word.

She was walking on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn three years ago, and Questlove the front man of "The Tonight Show" band, The Roots, happened to be walking down the block. Lee says he saw her ties, loved them, and bought a few right there.

Today Questlove has over 100 Wonder Lee creations that he wears on "The Tonight Show" 3 to 4 nights a week. Lee even made a Questlove bow tie in his honor.

She has also sold ties to Whoopi Goldberg and crafted a custom bow tie for Malik Yoba when he was on "Empire."

Capital One featured Lee's ties and her biggest fan in a commercial.

And New York City selected her to be a mentor in its WE NYC program for female entrepreneurs, where she shares her secrets to success. Lee tells other women that their minds are their greatest assets and what they believe about themselves and the world will help them to be successful.

Another bit of Wonder Lee wisdom? Bow ties aren't just for your neck; you can also rock them as a headband.

And you don't need to have money to start something of your own. Lee says she didn't have any capital and sold all of her art tools to start Wonder Lee 123. She just loved being able to make things that were one of a kind.

Wonder Lee has sold over 6,500 bow ties worldwide. Ties start at $24.99. Custom ties -- like the Fox 5 script tie she made for me -- start at $43.99.

Up Next:

  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories you may be interested in - includes Advertiser Stories