I’ve always said that when time spent on the Guide started to feel like work instead of fun then it would be time to move on. Well, it struck me recently that I’ve now accomplished my most sought-after goals and the remaining initiatives seem more like obligations than recreation. So it was that when an unexpected and generous offer to buy the site recently came along I couldn’t say no. Thus, the Guide and its blog are now under new ownership.
The decision is definitely a bittersweet one, a bit like seeing a grown child head out into the world on his own.
It was eight years ago that I set out with a rudimentary knowledge of formal wear and even less knowledge of web design to create the original version of the Guide. For years afterward I lived and breathed black tie. Evenings and weekends were spent writing and programming until the wee hours of the morning and when that wasn’t enough I’d take a leave of absence from work to devote myself to my hobby full time. Even vacations became part of my formalwear passion as I’d schedule them around library visits or field research in the form of formal dinners, gala charity balls, and upscale cruises. (As I’ve said before, it was a tough job but somebody had to do it.)
Fortunately, the increasing scope of the guide over the years led to increasing rewards. There were exciting opportunities for interviews and writing for the media as well as live presentations to various audiences. Men of all ages and walks of life wrote to tell me how the Guide had transformed their previously negative impression not only of formal wear but of traditional menswear and etiquette in general. Site traffic increased dramatically every year and the Guide eventually became the web’s “go to” resource, frequently held up as a formalwear benchmark by enthusiastic and grateful netizens.
This past year has been particularly extraordinary, to the point of being surreal. First I attended the largest black-tie event on the continent, then I realized a long held dream of doing research at the incomparable Library of Congress and finally I received an exclusive invitation to attend the fabled Tuxedo Park Autumn Ball. Really, what was left? Certainly not the remaining projects I had in the works which were focused almost entirely on increasing profit, something that had been little more than an afterthought in the past. Considering that I already have a well-paying day job, that profit was unnecessary as supplementary income and far from adequate as a salary substitute.
So the time was right when I was approached last month by a privately owned UK partnership looking to expand their investment in educational sites. Unlike me, they have both the inspiration and the savvy to maximize the Guide and Blog’s financial potential. That is evident in the new format of the blog which has been consolidated with the web site rather than existing as a separate, unmonetized entity. Yet, as you can also see, the blog’s content remains fully intact. This is evidence of the new owners’ understanding that the draw for the Guide’s one million plus yearly visitors is far more than a catchy URL.
For the foreseeable future I will continue my involvement in the blog on an ad hoc basis whenever I spot something that piques my interest. My involvement with more time-consuming deliverables such as an eBook, app, or a revised and expanded version of the web site is still to be determined.
Whatever the outcome, though, I take great pride in having brought a black tie education to millions of men (and women) who would otherwise have remained ignorant or misinformed. I would like to think that my work has made the world just a little more refined than it was eight years ago and I hope it will continue to preserve and promote formal tradition for many years to come.
Finally, a heartfelt thanks to my longtime sponsor A Suitable Wardrobe, my long suffering husband Brandon, and my many devoted readers without whom the Guide would not be what it is today.