How the Hospitality Industry Works Within Their Community

Travis Ray of Dapper Bowtique and Asa Thomas of Art Ovation Hotel discuss their collaboration and what it means for the community

September 15, 2021
Asa Thomas and Travis Ray

Those who make Sarasota a wonderful place to live, visit and enjoy find ways of working together through collaborative initiatives and projects within their own community. Whether you’re staying at a beautiful resort filled with awesome amenities, heading to one of the fine dining restaurants scattered throughout the county, or shopping at a local boutique, the staff helps create an atmosphere that leaves you wanting more. VSC recently got the chance to sit down with Asa Thomas, Director of Sales at Art Ovation Hotel, and Travis Ray, owner and creator of Dapper Bowtique, to talk about their recent collaborations, and what’s in store for the future.

Dapper Bowtique is an online accessory brand with the purpose of selling handcrafted bow ties and accessories, embracing African culture and celebrating it with colors, prints and unique designs. Travis recalls how Dapper Bowtique began, stating “It started from a dream. I had a dream, where this [African American] woman, she came to me with African fabric in her hand, [it] turned into a Kente cloth bowtie [and] she dropped it on my head.” Travis continued his story, looking back at how the dream had familial ties and a wake-up call to his life. “I found out that the woman in my dream, who I didn’t know, was actually my paternal grandmother. My uncle told me, and I found out that my grandmother was also a tailorist and a seamstress, so, head to toe.” Four years later, Travis is running his own successful boutique business selling custom bowties and additional accessories, in the heart of Sarasota.

Asa had the pleasure of meeting Travis at an event at the Westcoast Black Theatre some time ago, and they got a chance to talk about how Travis’ business started and the uniqueness around it. “I was very interested, very interested in how hard he was voicing it [Dapper Bowtique] and getting it started,” Asa proclaimed, stating the principal similarities in Dapper Bowtique and Art Ovation Hotel. “I was very interested in his ethics and hard work. We pride ourselves, the [Art Ovation] hotel, on being a community hotel. We pride ourselves on giving opportunity to hard workers, people with the same work ethic as Travis, to get them in the door and give them the exposure that they might not have other places.”

This would lead to an amazing opportunity opening up between the two, during one of Art Ovation’s busiest times of the year, Father’s Day week and weekend. Asa recollects the conversation her and Travis had in getting the collaboration in motion. “I thought it was a perfect, perfect edition to the hotel, to have him [Travis] come set up during one of our busiest weekends of the year, Father’s Day. His product would be perfect for Father’s Day, [let’s] get him in here and get it done.” It was a successful weekend for both parties, and it continued to show how locals in the community can work together to create success for themselves and others.

This isn’t the end of collaborations between Dapper Bowtique and Art Ovation Hotel. The two have a lot more in store, specifically later this year with a potential fashion show at the illustrious resort. Travis stated “Recently, Pink Sebastian Boutique has asked me to do their fashion show. I’m going to be, hopefully, doing the fashion show here at Art Ovation Hotel later this year. You guys will actually get a chance to see me work with some other types of fabric, like silk charmeuse, leather and lace.” Asa is looking forward to the show, and other ventures happening at Art Ovation Hotel. “We are working with other vendors, other African American vendors. We have an artist residence program, [where] we just had an African American person here doing live artwork paintings for a week. She [painter] sold a tremendous amount of paintings.” Asa continued with other initiatives and collaborations the hotel plans on taking advantage of throughout the rest of 2021, similar to Travis and Dapper Bowtique. “Various things coming down the pipeline with working with the community. We want any and all, please reach out to me [Asa Thomas] and we’ll get you in here.”

Travis and Asa’s relationship and affiliation with one another is one of many throughout the Sarasota community and showcases what a collaboration between local businesses can create. Be sure to check out Travis’s business and future ventures at www.dapperbowtique.com, or follow his brand on Clubhouse, Facebook and Instagram @DapperBowtique. If interested in accommodations, or wanting to follow all that is going on with Art Ovation Hotel, please visit www.artovationhotel.com.