Owner, designer Pelican Coast Neckwear
Education: Isidore Newman School; Bachelor’s of Psychology, minor in Art History from Vanderbilt University; continuing education degree in interior design.
Family: Husband, John; daughter, Avery, 15; sons Jack, 13 and Liam, 10
Mentors: My parents, Judith and Louis M. Freeman
In 2005, Virginia Rowan attended the Times Picayune’s Loving Cup Award ceremony, in which the newspaper honored her father for improving the New Orleans community. He was the fifth family member to receive the award.
During the ceremony, her 8-year-old son, Jack, said, “Mom, now it’s our turn.”
Touched by his statement, Rowan came up with a unique way to give back that would involve her children: designing men’s neckties with proceeds going to America’s Wetland Foundation. Her children drew images that reminded them of marshes and wetlands that were printed all over silk ties.
Five years later, Pelican Coast Neckware has become a fashion staple in New Orleans, being sold at Perlis, Rubensteins and at the Historic New Orleans Collection gift shop. More than $35,000 has been donated to America’s Wetland Foundation from the sales. Rowan also designs neckties for charity auctions and volunteers for non-profit organizations.
Why start this effort? I feel like it’s something I’ve inherited — not only the sense of duty, but the love of giving back. It’s part of who we are.
How did you get the first tie sold? David Perlis was in a class above me at Newman, so I brought them to Perlis to get a professional opinion. He was blown away. I said, “You know, what’s the harm? I’ll do a few, if they sell, great. If they don’t, it was worth a shot.” They were a hit.
How do the ties raise awareness for wetlands? When people wear the ties it kind of opens the door to a discussion on the plight. I’m not saying everybody’s an advocate, but it definitely gets the word out that these things are important — our coastal ecosystem and our wetlands and our way of life.
What has been your proudest accomplishment? The past two Presidents of the United States have worn my ties. One of them was actually purchased in New Orleans, which was one of my daughter’s first design collaborated with her cousin.
Any designs you discarded? The funniest request I ever had was a cockroach. I didn’t do it, but I looked into it.
iBERIABANK is proud to present a series of profiles featuring entrepreneurs, volunteer activists and artists whose work is making a difference. As iBERIABANK continues to make significant investments in our community, this special feature focuses on a few individuals who are doing the same.
While we can not include everyone who is inspiring change and worthy of recognition, we are proud to highlight a select few who give tirelessly to our community with their time, energy and passion.