Dallas designer Abi Ferrin is one of the hottest names in the fashion industry. Her clothes are found in Nordstrom department stores and boutiques across the country. Singers Erykah Badu and Carrie Underwood are among the growing number of celebrities seen wearing Ferrin’s designs.
Her success today represents an immeasurable amount of hard work since 2006, when she arrived in Dallas with plenty of confidence and passion but few material assets. Ferrin had also faced some challenges in dealing previously with banks, and she expressed her feelings about those situations with Origin’s Austin Lewis.
“Austin why are you so nice to me? You treat me like I'm one of your richest clients,” Ferrin recalled asking Lewis. “He said, ‘Because I already see the potential. I know who you're going to be, so I’m going to be your banker then, too.’ I was like, yes, you are.”
Both sides of the equation provide value to the other. While Lewis and Origin initially brought the business acumen and genuine trust Ferrin needed in getting her idea off the ground, the bank is now a key supporter of Ferrin’s contribution to an uplifting cause.
Ferrin’s clothes are designed to empower and inspire the women who wear them, as well as the people who make them. Her company is committed to doing business solely with ethical manufacturing partners. And in 2007, Ferrin created the Freedom Project to help those around the world whose lives have been devastated by abuse and exploitation.
Each Abi Ferrin hang tag incorporates special handmade buttons created by abuse survivors taking part in the Freedom Project. In addition to fair wages and benefits, participants receive counseling to help in their recovery, as well as education on health, nutrition, personal finance, literacy and English. So far, the Freedom Project has helped people in Cambodia, Nepal and Peru.
Origin is a proud supporter of the Freedom Project. When the handmade buttons are shipped to Ferrin, for example, Lewis helps ensure payments are transferred immediately, so those working in the program can provide for their families.
“Abi’s doing it the right way, the ethical way,” Lewis says. “When I see people out in the world wearing Abi's clothing, I always get excited to think that maybe I had a small part in it.”
In fact, Lewis is such a fan of Ferrin’s company, he once volunteered as a model for a line of shirts designed for men.
“He came in the office to have me sign something, and I was, like, ‘Wait a second, you're a perfect medium,’” Ferrin says.
“That might be outside the bounds of my job description,” Lewis smiles, “but certainly one of the easiest things I could do.”
Learn more about the relationship between Origin and Abi Ferrin in this video.