Vineyard Vines’ popular whimsical ties, including ones with a Lafayette theme, are now available in retail stores across the nation including Greenwich, Conn., Birmingham, Ala., Plano, Texas, Washington, D.C., and more. By year’s end, Ian Murray ’97 (above right) and his brother Shep, who founded the multimillion-dollar brand, expect to have 28 stores open nationwide.
“The stores are doing fantastic,” says Ian. “We’ve continued to grow and expand when the world has been shying away from that. We attribute our success to our product and our service—we strive to treat our customers the way we want to be treated ourselves.”
They started the business in 1998 with a line of ties designed for Martha’s Vineyard featuring ocean and sailing motifs.
“I could not have done what I’ve done at Vineyard Vines without the support of my friends from Lafayette,” says Ian, an English graduate. “When we were getting started, I would call my friends—they would help with trade shows and make deliveries. Whatever the task, they were always ambassadors for us…and still are. There’s something special about the bond that people from Lafayette share.”
Mike Gaumer ’97, who attended Lafayette from 1993 until 1995 and then completed a degree in history from College of Charleston, dropped everything to help Ian while Shep was on his honeymoon. He joined the company then and now serves as president.
Among the company’s other 370 employees are Cristin McGuinn ’05, government and law graduate who works in licensing; Suzanne Dommerich Ranta ’05, anthropology & sociology and French graduate, business analysis manager; and Jesse Straus ’10, economics and business graduate, marketing specialist.
“I absolutely love what I do,” says Ian. “For me, there’s no difference between a Tuesday and a Saturday. I’m always working, and I’m always having fun.”
Ian has stayed connected to Lafayette through his employees and friends as well as a partnership to create custom products for the College. “I love Lafayette; it’s like another home to me. And to have our products there makes it feel even more like home.”