12-year-old Moziah Bridges is a bow tie aficionado and the CEO of his own company, Mo's Bows.
"I wanted to have that look — that 'bazam' look," he tells NPR's Audie Cornish.
Bridges says dressing well is a big part of growing up to be a man.
Listen to the audio above to hear the full conversation.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
OK, so that's Sheen's round up. Now we want to hear from you. Tell us about the object, the thing, toy, tool - the stuff that makes you feel manly, and why. We are open-minded, no judgment or imposition of tightly defined gender roles here. Men and women - we want to hear from all of you and this is meant to be fun. Send us your story on Twitter and Facebook. We are @NPRATC.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
And speaking of sartorial choices, we turn next to Moziah Bridges, bow tie aficionado, CEO of his own company.
MOZIAH BRIDGES: I want to bring the bow tie back, and I want to make it look better than what it used to be.
CORNISH: Also, 12 years old. Mo, he said I could call him Mo, sells his own handmade bow ties online. He started his business, Mo's Bows, three years ago in his hometown of Memphis. For him, dressing well is a big part of becoming a man.
BRIDGES: It helps people respect you, and it makes you look good.
CORNISH: And Mo has always wanted to look good. He started picking out his own clothes when he was just 3 and accessorized with belts and fedoras. He was inspired by his dad.
BRIDGES: Well, I saw my dad wearing all those things. He would wear a bow tie and suspenders, just to go to McDonald's and eat some french fries. So he would just dress up for no apparent reason.
CORNISH: Now, tell us a story of how you started sewing your own bow ties - right? - because I gather you had to ask grandmother.
BRIDGES: Yes. Well, I - I couldn't find any bow ties that I liked. So I asked my grandmother how to teach me how to sew. And so she was like, oh, OK. I'll help you make them.
CORNISH: What did you want to do different than what you saw in the stores?
BRIDGES: Well, I wanted to have the fun in the bow tie. And I wanted to have just that look, that bazaam look.
CORNISH: (Laughing) So what does that look like? Describe your two favorites.
BRIDGES: One of my favorites is a polka-dot, and it's very classic and crisp and cool. And one of my other especially favorites has all of the different colors in - it's in little puzzle pieces. So it's a fun and cool bow tie.
CORNISH: I do know now that you have a staff, right? You have people...
BRIDGES: Yes, I do.
CORNISH: ...Working for you as CEO. But do you still make ties?
BRIDGES: Yes, I do still make ties when I feel like it because I'm the CEO. And I get to make the decisions, which is whatever the decision that my mom makes.
CORNISH: Oh, OK. Now, talk to me about how other boys, young men in your neighborhood dress. What do they look like?
BRIDGES: Well, they dress kind of urban. So they have their hoodies. They have their jeans. And so I think young people should dress better. Also Memphis used to be that pop - and it used to have that. But now it's Atlanta, New York and California. So we need to look up to them and step our game up - by the way we look.
CORNISH: I heard that you actually had to wear a uniform at school. Is that right?
BRIDGES: Yes. It's stressful because I want to wear what I want to wear because I don't want to look like other kids look. It's just...
CORNISH: The worst.
BRIDGES: Yes, the worst.
CORNISH: Do you feel like you're rebelling (laughing) on the weekends?
BRIDGES: Yes, yes. I love to rebel.
CORNISH: Well, Moziah Bridges, thank you so much for talking with us and best of luck with Mo's Bows.
BRIDGES: Thank you.
CORNISH: Twelve-year-old Moziah Bridges, CEO of Mo's Bows in Memphis.
BLOCK: We'll talk more about men, their experiences and changing roles throughout the summer. You can follow our series on Twitter at #menPR, that's M-E-N-P-R. This is NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.