Q&A4Her: Abi Ferrin
Did you ever imagine yourself achieving what you have?
Not specifically, but I’ve always dreamed big and had goals to make a difference in the world. The life I’m living now is far more exciting then the political path I originally dreamed of living.
What in hindsight did you underestimate about your industry and why?
How hard it is. There are so many moving parts from idea to point of sale and distribution. It is a 24-7 career for my team and I. It is not unusual for us to be together at midnight working on one element or another. I always start my interns with the welcome speech that I call ‘Fashion is not Glamorous 101’. People don’t realize that being in fashion means dealing with rolling racks, hangers, steamers, heavy boxes and piles of clothes… it’s way more then red carpets, runways and celebs.
What is the best business related advice you’ve ever been given?
My mentor, Tina Piermarini, Founder and Principal of Vivezza Partners, has given me a lot of great advice over the years. The best advice was to slow down, develop a strategy and execute to the plan thoughtfully. She has since become my operating partner, as her advice has been so effective in my life and business.
What do you love most about what you do and why?
I love the women that I dress. I love the opportunity to connect with and inspire a wide range of women. Most people love fashion and are intrigued with what I do. It’s a great entryway to be able to speak into people’s lives and encourage them to dream and achieve!
What if you knew then what you know now – would you do differently and why?
I wouldn’t have spent three years struggling in LA and would have made the move to Texas a lot sooner. Dallas is a place that nurtures small businesses and entrepreneurs in such an unusual way, and that has been the perfect environment for me to be launched from. It’s great to go back to visit LA now and be able to enjoy myself!
When you’re not working how do you like to spend your time?
I love nature and I love to travel. I really enjoy anything from hiking or skiing in Aspen, to scuba diving with my boyfriend, Kenny. I’m also hoping to get back to my hometown, Jackson Hole, Wyoming soon. It’s my favorite place on the planet.
How do you define success?
Success is being able to make a difference in the people’s lives while following your passion. Having close relationships with friends and family and remembering what is truly important in life.
If you had to share one final thought with our audience of thousands of women in business, what would it be?
As women in business, we should unite together to support, uplift and encourage each other. I think it is an important mental model, and if we would all just create an inner dialogue that cheered each other on as we observe success it would go a long way.
About Abi Ferrin
Abi Ferrin did not take a predictable career path, but her story proves that the America dream is alive and well. Born and raised in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Abi wasn’t exactly “in line” to become a big hit in the fashion world. While she began sewing when she was 5, and did in fact win a national McCall’s sewing competition when she was 13, Abi’s focus was the political world as she was lead by her passion for people and a desire to make a difference.
She got her degree with a double major in broadcast journalism and international government, and moved to Washington DC at the age of 20 where she worked for the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer for three years. In 2000 Abi moved to Hollywood and started over with a job at Paramount Pictures. She picked up her childhood hobby, and began designing pieces to wear to industry parties. It didn’t take long for her unique creations to receive attention from celebrities and national media, but the 23 year old had a lot to learn before she was ready for the hype she received immediately. After enduring an abusive relationship which left her in debt and broken, she left Hollywood in 2005 and moved in with her cousin Lisa in Dallas. This proved to be a turning point.
In 2007 Abi Ferrin was named Texas’ Next Top Designer, a title that came with a pretty prize package which included placement of her product at Stanley Korshak, a trip to New York for fashion week where she took in all the major shows, $5,000 and a rent free loft to work out of for a year in the historic SouthSide on Lamar building in Dallas which is her boutique storefront to this day.
Abi’s unique and versatile designs are not the only thing that set her apart. The Freedom Project is the philanthropic arm and the foundation of the company. Inspired by her own experience, and her sister’s lifetime commitment to helping empower people, Abi founded The Freedom Project. The Abi Ferrin motto is Fashion with Freedom and Purpose, which comes full circle as a hand-made element is included on every Made in the USA garment. “After experiencing personally what it felt like to be a victim of abuse, I know my purpose and am single mindedly pursuing it. While designing clothing that makes women feel confident and beautiful, I make them my partners in educating, empowering and supporting women who needed a voice. This also creates awareness of a global problem that is not fully understood through the exciting platform of fashion.”