EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


January 16, 2009

Colin Powell's inauguration wardrobe will include North Andover's tie

North Andover native's 'discreetly Obama' neckwear a hot item

As inaugural celebrations in Washington, D.C., kick off this weekend, former Secretary of State Colin Powell will be sporting his support for President-elect Barack Obama with a tie designed by a former North Andover resident.

So will Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean and actor Louis Gossett Jr.

Cara Grayer Johnson's five red, periwinkle, raspberry and royal blue "O44" power ties have become an overnight hit in the nation's capital. Everyone from political staffers to Wall Street types are handing over the $95 each one costs to own a designer piece of history.

"I really wanted to design something nicely and tastefully," said Johnson, owner of the Ella Rose label and a Washington, D.C., attorney. "It's what we like to refer to as 'discreetly Obama.' ... A lot of people want things to commemorate him, something unique. We think this is kind of like pop art, paying homage to him."

The ties have vertical rows of O's, split by columns of 44s, acknowledging Obama as the 44th president of the United States.

Johnson, who practices international telecommunications law, said she is naturally interested in politics, and had it instilled in her growing up in North Andover, discussing issues with her family around a table in the dining room. Her parents, David and Rose Grayer, still live here.

"As a D.C. attorney, it goes with the job," she said. "And myself and my family have been Obama supporters since the very, very beginning. ... We've watched him rise to power. He's a phenomenal individual."

Johnson came up with the idea of the Ella Rose label while on a trip to Argentina as a Fulbright scholar. Part of her project was to build a business that also would promote social change. So some of the proceeds from the ties will go to Global Kids, a nonprofit organization aimed at urban education. She has already sold out of the first 250 she made, and only plans on selling another 250 more at the most.

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