Bird Dog Bay was founded in 2006 by Steve Mayer, who remains the sole illustrator and designer for all products within the company. He continues to enjoy hand-drawing every single pattern, on all of our goods from neckwear to socks, to pocket squares, caps, cufflinks, and more. He believes that creating these illustrations for you could possibly be the most rewarding job fathomable. Anyone physically wearing his artwork is the best compliment someone with his talent can receive. Period.
WHERE IS BIRD DOG BAY?
We’ve heard all the theories…From Hemingway’s favorite fishing hole tucked away in a little cove off Key West, to a quaint B&B on the mountainside just outside of Vail, to a prestigious hunting lodge in the Upper Peninsula where you can only arrive via biplane, to that dumpy motel just outside of Sturgis where Steve got his black leather boots lifted…twice. Good guesses, but unfortunately, not even close.
It all started in a little Chicago suburb called Sleepy Hollow, where our founder and principal designer, Steve Mayer, spent his youth. He was raised by a mother who was the town’s favorite over-the-top second grade teacher and the perfectly contrasting Harley-riding, fly-rod-toting art teacher for a father. Both parents showed him the value of living life to its fullest, while on the same note, not taking it too seriously. The Mayer household was never short on two things: laughs and art supplies. Steve was a true designer from the beginning – sculpting giant serpents in the sand, throwing works of art on the potters wheel, crafting whole nativity scenes out of pipe cleaners, and of course, drawing with his trusty 18 pack of soft leaded drafting pencils.
Steve began his career as the in-house graphic and tie designer for another high-end neckwear company, working diligently to perfect his craft. However, as the years passed, the thirst for a more creative endeavor grew stronger. Never one to shy away from a challenge, he found two 120-year-old carpenter cottages in the north west side of Chicago. In dire need of total repair, they were just the project he’d been looking for. He re-designed them, gutted them down to their bricks and beams and re-built them both within a year. All the while, foreseeing the future home for his very own neckwear company. All he needed now was some companionship.
Just as he was able to revisit his roots in illustration, Steve wanted to bring back his family’s love of pets. Name the animal, and the Mayers most likely had it at one time or another. Not only did their ranch house back up to a horse and cow farm, they had everything from turtles and rabbits to singing birds and live alligators. But the one constant was their larger than life, out of control, misbehaving dogs. So, the day Steve finished that second house, he knew it was time to visit the rescue center and adopt his first four-legged friend, Gus. A beautiful Fox Red Labrador Retriever that had been in a Southern Illinois kill center for over two months and was just about to be put down, Gus was big, goofy, with no fear and zero manners…a perfect match. Steve was told that if dogs like Gus made lousy hunting or “bird dogs”, they were often let go to live in packs like wild coyotes. Chances were Gus was one of those dogs, seeing he was a stray….Hence, our scentless bird dog logo. One aspect of rescuing a young dog that has been in a cage for so long is they often get a little complex about being left alone and anxiety issues, which was exactly the case with Gus. Since Steve was still working for that other necktie company at the time, Gus would start all his days with a broken heart. Steve would drive away in the morning and see a guilt-inducing, disappointed “Bird Dog” Gus peering at him from the “Bay” window of their new home…the “Bird Dog Bay”.
Nowadays, Steve spends his days thinking about Gus in doggy paradise as he works on the latest collection. Besides inspiring our logo, Gus remains a favorite of the Bird Dog Bay team. Thanks for reading, and we hope you enjoyed our story of “Man’s Best Friend” as much as we do.