Brothers Shep and Ian Murray were miserable sitting behind desks at their corporate jobs in Manhattan. So in 1998, Shep Murray, an advertising account executive, and Ian Murray, who worked at a small public relations firm, quit their jobs within 10 minutes of each other. They took cash advances on their credit cards and, despite being told how “dumb” their idea was, started Vineyard Vines — a tie company based on Martha’s Vineyard. Or, as the brothers like to say, they decided to trade in their business suits for bathing suits by selling ties so they wouldn’t have to wear them.
At first they sold their ties one at a time out of their backpacks, on the beach, on boats and in bars. They sold out of 800 ties within the first week. They quickly re-ordered, paid off their debt and moved into their first office. More than a decade later, the business is now an entire clothing line.
There are now 18 freestanding Vineyard Vine retail stores around the country, and the line can be found in about 500 stores. The company is projecting about $100 million in sales for 2011.