ep. 112 - Abi Ferrin:
Fashion Designer and Philanthropist
Abi Ferrin has a passion for empowering women and has been doing so through her eponymous clothing line for 14 years. As a fashion designer, she has had a perfect platform to inspire women, and as a philanthropist she created her company to support women while dressing them. From day one, Abi Ferrin has been committed to transparency in the manufacturing of her product. From her own in house Texas atelier where 50% of her product is created, to the outsourced manufacturers she selects, she personally ensures that the environments are clean and that happy people who are paid honest wages sew each garment that bears the Abi Ferrin label.
Shortly after leaving a 2 year relationship where she was the victim of domestic violence and credit card theft, she was introduced to the plight of trafficked individuals, and created the Freedom Project. The Freedom Project supports organizations that rescue, rehabilitate and inspire entrepreneurial opportunities and employment for former victims of trafficking and abusive employment. Every garment of clothing that is sold comes with an item that is made by one of these organizations, and most recently her entire cashmere collaboration was made under the Freedom Project umbrella.
Abi Ferrin sells her clothes to exclusive boutiques and resorts globally, and has received much recognition for her unique approach to design and entrepreneurialism by many including; Texas Top Designer by Stanley Korshak in 2007, Excellence in Design Award by DIFFA in 2009, the Featured Designer for the Super Bowl Fashion Show by the NFL Wives in 2009, inducted into the Vogue 120 in 2013, and most recently as the Champion of Human Rights Award from the Mosaic Family Services in October of 2014.
Gail Davis: Welcome to today's episode of GDA Podcast. I'm so looking forward to this, because it's unique in that we are actually on location, and we are recording today's podcast from [00:01:00] the Abi Ferrin design studio. So you may hear the hum of sewing machines in the background, but we selected this to really be here to absorb the creative spirit, to absorb the entrepreneurial spirit. And I think I would like to start there by saying that I met Abi as a fellow member of EO, the Entrepreneur Organization, and I was immediately drawn to her creativity, her philanthropy, and her designs. [00:01:30] I can remember Abi coming here to South Side Lamar, meeting you on a Sunday, and I felt like I found my person. Your tagline is that you make clothes for the person, not the hanger. And I just remember that afternoon, and I was so happy.
So I think what we should go is just kind of start with your story, how did you get into all of this, and maybe share a little bit not only about the design aspect but what it's like to be an entrepreneur, to have a 16-year-old business.
Abi Ferrin: 16- [00:02:00] year-old business. Wow. I don't even feel much older than 16. It's crazy when you say that. But, yeah, I kind of feel a little bit like Alice in Wonderland. I fell into this backwards and where am I? Kind of looking around going, "I can't believe this is where my life ended up," as I started my career thinking I was gonna be the next Barbara Walters and working for Jim Lehrer in Washington, D.C. So that was my first job out of college, and after about three years in D.C. I just realized that I needed more [00:02:30] of a creative outlet. So I moved to Los Angeles and starting working at Paramount Pictures with my broadcasting degree. It was really to get ... And the resume of Jim Lehrer, it was really easy to get work through a temp agency, so I could kind of figure out where I wanted to be.
So I spent a year temping in all the big studies and ABC, NBC. I got to be in Les Moonves's office for three months. So it was really exciting, but I wasn't making that much money, [00:03:00] so I start ... I got invited to all these really cool red carpet parties. I was 22. The world was open to me, and I was like, "I can't wear these Jim Lehrer outfits." I was wearing my Ann Taylor suits. Those are not working for a red carpet/Hollywood deal. So I got out my old sewing machine, dusted it off—and I'd been sewing since I was young, so it had just kind of gone to the wayside—and started making my own clothes.
Kyle Davis: At what point, and I think a lot of entrepreneurs [00:03:30] discover this at some point, but at what point did you realize that these temp jobs at the studios and all the other kind of movie work that you were doing was costing you, whether it be costing you money from designs that you could selling or costing you because it was taking away from what your true passion was? At what point did you realize that you really needed to fully dive in?
Abi Ferrin: Well it was such an interesting thing because at first I was just sewing because I wanted to have cute outfits to wear on the red carpet and to go to these cool [00:04:00] parties, and then people kept asking me and it suddenly triggered like, "You mean instead of sitting at a desk and watching life go by outside the window I could have the freedom to do my own thing and do what I'm so passionate about?" So it was probably a year into my job at Paramount Pictures. I was working in the international sales division, which is far, far from what I ... any kind of creative element. It was really interesting to watch the hustle and bustle on the Paramount lot, but it just wasn't fulfilling, [00:04:30] and I remember looking out the window every day thinking, "Life is happening out there, and I'm strapped to this desk." It was awful. So about a year into it I had enough interest in my designs, and I just quit my job and off I went.
Gail Davis: When did you start hiring employees, and when did you get your first big deal where people actually wanted you to fulfill an order?
Abi Ferrin: So, my first few clients were celebrities, and [00:05:00] unfortunately they don't like to pay when you're [inaudible 00:05:03] first blooming artists. They were like, "I'll wear your clothes and tell people about you," and so ... Which is great once you have a distribution, but if you don't have any other ... If you bought five yards of silk and you use two of it on that dress and now she's not gonna pay for it, it's kind of like, "Well, this is a rough business model."
So it took a little while, but I was really blessed. I got a bunch of press right away, and so then I made a sample set, got in my car and drove [00:05:30] door-to-door and probably opened ... I got the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. I got a store, a few stores in Florida. I met this girl who was like, loved my designs, and she's like, "I'm gonna hit the road for you." So she was hitting the road on the East Coast, I was hitting the road on the West Coast. And literally door-to-door I'd get my 30 orders, I'd go back home, and I'd sew them all myself. So that went on for about two years of torturous sewing night and day.
Kyle Davis: So there was a funny story that you told at my mom's birthday [00:06:00] party, and it was involving the power of the word "no," and at some point in time you decided you're not gonna give away free stuff anymore. Tell it if you want to.
Abi Ferrin: Yeah.
Kyle Davis: Maybe you might wanna leave names out.
Abi Ferrin: No, no, I'll tell it. They actually love this story. So that was a few years later when I moved to Dallas, and I was just done. I was done giving things away. I was done with having my name in Us Weekly and InStyle Magazine and yet I could barely even [00:06:30] pay my bills. And I'd also been through, which we'll talk about later, some really rough personal stuff that had really upside downed my financial life.
So I got a call from this woman named Julie, and she said, "So I have a client who would like to wear your outfit to the Super Bowl. She found it at a boutique in Nashville, and her husband is the quarterback from the team, and we were wondering if you would like to gift her some outfits for the [00:07:00] ESPYs and for some upcoming events." And I said, "No, it sounds like they're doing pretty well if her husband ..." It turned out it was Kurt and Brenda Warner, who I'm now very dear friends with. "If her husband is playing for the NFL, I think they're doing okay. And I have some really important philanthropies that I support, and so she will be doing a good deed by buying my clothes, but I can't gift it to her." And Julie was like, "Okay, got it," and went back to Brenda.
I completely forget this story happened. [inaudible 00:07:26] fast forward. I'm in Kurt and Brenda's home this summer working on Brenda's [00:07:30] outfits for Hall of Fame because she was dressing him. And she said ... And they're working on getting a movie deal. I don't know how much of that is public, but the screenwriter was interviewing them, and so he wanted some other people's testimonials. So Brenda said, "Well, let me tell you about Abi and why Abi is such a close part of my life." And she tells this story, and I'm mortified, going, "That was how we got to know each other?" But, yeah, she, Brenda, loved it [00:08:00] and she said, "That's my girl. She believes in herself." And it was such a good lesson even now, because I still feel like there's a little bit of that, "Pick me! Like me!" And it's great to know that.
Kyle Davis: Yeah, I mean, I think there's a lot of transferableness ... I guess that's a word, transferableness. But anyways, in a lot of industries it's the freemium. It's like, "Hey, try this free," and then they want you to pay for Apple Music or something like that, [00:08:30] and so it's a good thing to know that you don't have to just give away stuff for free. If you believe in what you're doing, charge for it.
Abi Ferrin: Yes.
Kyle Davis: It's the right thing to do.
Abi Ferrin: And entrepreneurs, it's your business and it's your heart and soul, and so it's like sometime you think, "Well, these people of influence like it. I should give it to them," but they actually value it more, was my lesson, when you don't.
Gail Davis: You mention that Kurt and Brenda became great friends, and I know I saw something in recent months where you were at the NFL Hall of Fame. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Abi Ferrin: Yes.
Gail Davis: I think you [00:09:00] took your father, didn't you?
Abi Ferrin: I did. My dad was my date. He's a huge football fan since ... My whole life we would watch football together on Sundays, so it was really fun. I got to take him to the Super Bowl a few years ago and then got to take him to Hall of Fame this year as my date.
And, yeah, I dressed Brenda. We created her whole wardrobe for the week. It was a really big deal. She's one of only two wives that have ever been asked by their husbands to put on their gold jacket, which is they get to pick the most important person in their life. So [00:09:30] she was up there on stage with him, and it's really cute 'cause usually the person exits right after they've put on the jack, and he grabbed her hand and kept her up there the whole time. They're a really neat family.
Gail Davis: That's awesome. Oh, I was thinking of something else, Abi, when you said that when you were first getting started you'd get the 30 orders and then you would go home and make them. And I know ... I think you may even know Michael Gerber personally, but his book is so powerful for all of us entrepreneurs. The E-Myth where we learn [00:10:00] that there becomes this point where you have to work on your business not in your business.
Abi Ferrin: Yes.
Gail Davis: So you want to talk a little bit about his influence on you and how ... And then you were able to scale into this magnificent operation you have today.
Abi Ferrin: Well, and it's really funny because Kyle asked the question early about my first employees, and there were a few part-time sewers along the way, but one of my very first employees when I moved to Dallas after I'd won Texas Top Designer was Amethyst [Maya 00:10:28], who is Michael Gerber's step-daughter. [00:10:30] Lucky me. She's still with me today, 10 years later. So that was about six years in when I had ... I hired [Margarita 00:10:38] 12 years ago, and she was my first sewer, and then Amethyst came on board as part of the design and production team. And so I remember, if you know the E-Myth, the pie maker? I was the pie maker, my hair in a bun, crazy piles everywhere, frantically pedaling through life on a hamster wheel.
And Michael and Luz Delia came in for a tour of my studio, [00:11:00] and I had no idea who he was or what the E-Myth was, and I'm sure he was just beside himself that this is who his daughter had just decided to work for. But lucky me, because he became a mentor and did Dreaming Rooms with my whole teams. I did the E-Myth course with him. And still to this day I actually ... I just got an email today. I need to do a re-up and just refresh on what's going on now, so.
Gail Davis: Should we go back, because [00:11:30] we did skip forward talking about Brenda and Kurt, but should we go back and talk about the troubles that you mentioned? Because I think they really shaped a lot of the decisions you've made about your culture in company. So would you like to talk a little bit about what happened in L.A. that led to you reinventing yourself and moving to Texas?
Abi Ferrin: Yes, I would, because I think it's really important. I met a guy. One of my goals when I moved to L.A. besides finding myself was to get a [00:12:00] California boyfriend. So stupid. But anyway, that was a goal at 22. I wanted a guy with the spiky hair and the cool cars and all that, so ... It's terrible. I know, Kyle. It's bad.
Kyle Davis: The spiky hair just ... It just ... Ugh.
Abi Ferrin: It's so bad.
Kyle Davis: It just reminds me of Justin Timberlake circa 2001.
Abi Ferrin: Yeah. Well that was 2001.
Gail Davis: It was.
Kyle Davis: Yeah.
Abi Ferrin: Perfect. That's exactly where we were.
Kyle Davis: Denim on denim on denim?
Abi Ferrin: Yes, that. All of it.
Kyle Davis: It's a good look. As I wear my ... I couldn't decide what vibe I wanted to be today, [00:12:30] so I'm super hipster, but I'm wearing my Dolores Park, San Francisco, shirt.
Abi Ferrin: So that's like ...
Kyle Davis: So yeah.
Abi Ferrin: Yeah.
Kyle Davis: The other side. It's more granola, Birkenstocks.
Abi Ferrin: That's more the style I've gone today, if I have a style. But, yes, anyways, I got what I asked for and then some. So I meet this guy. You know, Rico Suave. And he ...
Gail Davis: Was that really his name?
Abi Ferrin: No, I'm teasing. He was very ...
Gail Davis: Gullible here.
Abi Ferrin: I [inaudible 00:12:59] ... That [00:13:00] is hilarious.
Gail Davis: Sorry.
Abi Ferrin: So, anyways, no, that wasn't his name, but he was just ... He sold me down the river with his charm. And he was handsome and he had his degree from Harvard. Or so he said. I still to this day don't know what part of his story was or wasn't real. But the first year he just showed up for me and had everything I could ever imagine. Had the ... Would support me with my business, would bring me food while I was sewing all these orders. And I'd just hired my [00:13:30] first part-time sewer. And then was giving me business advice. And the next thing I know he's like, "Well, why don't you let me handle your finances?" I'm going, "Okay, great, 'cause I hate those numbers. Please. You're smart and rich, let's do this."
So naïve. I would ne ... It's be a great ... I've so many stories down the line later in people's business careers that I feel like it was a great lesson to learn, but a really hard one because he ended up maxing out my credit cards. And then he was funneling all of his checks through my bank account [00:14:00] so it looked like I was making so much money, so my credit card limits got bigger and bigger. It was before 2008 when things crashed.
And next thing I know, suddenly we move to San Francisco, and my prince charming overnight turned into my captor. I was literally couldn't breathe, couldn't eat, couldn't do anything without his explicit direction. "No, Abi, you shouldn't have salad dressing on your salad because you're looking a little bit too fluffy over there. [00:14:30] Oh, we need to go to the gym every day. Don't worry, I got you. You're gonna be fine, but you need to follow my program." And it was just step by step in this whittling away of self esteem, isolating me from my family, isolating me from my friends, and suddenly I was living in a nightmare. It was pretty awful. I remember at one pointing thinking, "Maybe I should just go jump off the Golden Gate Bridge," which was right down the road. I ran by it every day, and I was like, "That would be a quick end to this," which is really crazy that I went to that place.
Gail Davis: How did you eventually [00:15:00] get out?
Abi Ferrin: So, the average abuse cycle is around seven years, so I feel really lucky that mine was only two. Also, I just couldn't, I couldn't stand it anymore. So I called my dad and told him what was going on, and if anyone has seen my dad he's a force to be reckoned with. He's Buffalo Bill in the modern day with the huge handlebar mustache, six foot two. He played football in Wyoming, University of Wyoming college. So he's a big man. And [00:15:30] I just called him and I told him what was happening, and I said, "He's beaten me within an inch of my life several times. I have had a gun held to my head. I'm not gonna make it if you don't come." And he ... My dad was on a plane that night.
So he helped me pack up, and he wanted me to move back to Wyoming, and I just really didn't wanna give up my dream. This guy had been calling me a home crafter for several years and making me feel like ... I'd gone from feeling like I was on top of the world to like my ... [00:16:00] I meant nothing and I really was such a loser. It was this driving force to be ... that that was wrong that pushed me to move back to L.A. and continue my process. And then eventually I moved to Dallas, which was great move for me because this city is just so supportive of entrepreneurs.
Kyle Davis: What made you choose Dallas? Just out of pure curiosity.
Abi Ferrin: My cousin lived here and she was doing business, and she said, "Hey, Abi, I really would love to give you some business [00:16:30] advice." And I was pretty desperate. I actually had told her, "Why can't I just come work for you? I'm sick of barely being able to make ends meet. I have no money to my name. I have all this credit card debt piled up. I am totally trapped in this life that I've created." And she said, "Absolutely not. You're too talented. Come to Dallas. I'm gonna help you."
And so I set up shop in her garage and was sharing a bedroom with her seven-year-old child, which is really [00:17:00] exciting when you're 27 years old. You're like, "Where has my life gone?"
Kyle Davis: Sounds amazing.
Abi Ferrin: You know? It was amazing that she supported me like that, but you're also going, "Wow, I'm 27 years old and I've ... This is what I've accomplished." So a year into my time in Dallas there was a contest. It was the initial contest sponsored by Stanley Korshak, which was Texas Next Top Designer. I entered that, and I won. So that really changed my life. They gave me a loft rent-free here in South Side on Lamar, [00:17:30] and that next year just my life transformed. I was able to pay Amethyst instead of paying a rent in a design studio, so it was really exciting. Things really started transforming, and the Dallas community really stepped around me and got excited about the philanthropic side that I had incorporated into my business.
Kyle Davis: And so then I think a year or so later from there, that's when Kurt Warner's wife, and I'm forgetting [00:18:00] her name. Sorry.
Abi Ferrin: Brenda.
Kyle Davis: Brenda Warner wore your outfit, and then I guess thing kind of just blew up over night. And you've mentioned this, but you have this philanthropic tinge or element to your business model, so let's talk about that for a moment. What is it that, since your brand ... I mean, there's so many different philanthropic brands. You can think of TOMS, if we're talking about fashion, being one. There's sock company Bombas or whatever.
Abi Ferrin: Yes.
Kyle Davis: So what makes yours different and unique, and what does your philanthropic [00:18:30] goals work towards?
Abi Ferrin: Well, the fun thing is ... A little fun fact is that I was first. So, I ... The case study on cause marketing was actually written around my company because I was the leader in that space, which is kind of ... I don't brag about that usually, but it is kind of a cool fact when you're bringing that up.
My sister came back not knowing I was in an abusive relationship, and she was at the time a humanitarian and a missionary, and really their angle was to go in and just [00:19:00] work with people and love on people and help them create entrepreneurial avenues. And so she discovered this group of women that had been sold by their parents into trafficking, some of them unknowingly, had been rescued out of it, and there was this village called Guardian Village where women were handmaking different beads and bracelets. And my sister came back and had bought all these bracelets and said, "Abi, can you sell them with your clothes?" And I was like ... [00:19:30] So I started selling them, but I was barely making it myself at the time, and so it was kind of a ... It felt like more of a pity purchase, like not something that was sustainable. How am I gonna keep selling the same bracelet? I only have such a small pool of women, and I don't have much distribution yet.
So I, in the middle of the night one night, woke up and I thought, "Oh my gosh, they could make buttons for me. I could even put a button on a hang tag, that way every time I sell a dress, I sell one of their buttons. And the more I sell, the more they sell, and it could just keep ... That way I'm not [00:20:00] dividing my energy. Our forces are united." And that was how the Freedom Project began. Also, I did that before CNN. Just another little fun fact. The Freedom Project on CNN came out after, about two years after my Freedom Project launched.
Kyle Davis: Well, I mean, let's just divide and conquer and set lines in the sand and let people know you were first.
Abi Ferrin: I do think that's nice to get the credit [inaudible 00:20:23].
Kyle Davis: So what does that allow you to do? I mean, now to be able to sell these buttons and other aspects [00:20:30] of what they create, what are you doing for them? Are you funding this village? Are you going out and rescuing these women? What are you doing?
Abi Ferrin: Well in the beginning it was my way of healing, because instead of focusing on my own problems I immediately ... My sister didn't know what I was in when she came home. She just ... And it was kind of this, "Wow, other people are suffering way worse than I am. I am so lucky to live in America and to be living the life I am." As horrible as it had kind of become, I was so blessed. So [00:21:00] I asked my sister to connect me and started working with the Guardian Village. Eventually led me to another group of women, Sak Saum in Cambodia. Later that turned into Purnaa in Nepal.
So I've continued to grow with these different organizations who have really ... We partner. So it's become a very integral part of my business. All of my cashmere's made in Nepal by these women. My buttons. We have purses. We have all kinds of different projects [00:21:30] right now. We're developing a T-shirt project with the Nepali people. So basically it's kind of a few steps. We have a vocational training program. I've done a lot of consulting with them to help them set up. Because I started with less than nothing, I understand that lack and that need to have consistency and the need ... And the also you're not starting with this huge million-dollar budget. How do you set up something that's functional and sustainable one sewing machine at a time and scale it?
And [00:22:00] so it's really cool when I go to Purnaa in Nepal and I see ... They came here and shadowed me for three weeks and shadowed different members of my team, and basically you would go to Nepal and see this. It's like a replica, even with the whiteboards on the walls. And [Corbin 00:22:13] graduated from MIT. He's the guy that's running the project in Nepal that's ... An amazing guy, and I think I'd like him to come back and tweak ours a bit, 'cause he's so precise.
But it's really cool to see how these people that come from [00:22:30] such tough backgrounds, when they're given a chance to shine and to be trained and to have employment ... It's not just handouts, and that's the huge difference between like a TOMS versus an Abi Ferrin. We are creating sustainable lives for these people. It's not a shoe that's gonna wear out. And I think it's great they do that, but it's not sustainable. When I did get a chance to meet Blake, I said, "Are these people making your shoes?" And that was my challenge, like have them make your shoes. That would be amazing.
Kyle Davis: Yeah, I can only think of like one other [00:23:00] company that does that, and that's this flip flop company that hires Afghan women that was created by Army rangers.
Abi Ferrin: Oh yeah. I know about them. They were on Shark Tank.
Kyle Davis: Yeah, yeah. Cool dudes. But I think it's great because there's much more applicability, 'cause I can only wear flip flops like four months a year, so.
Abi Ferrin: Right.
Kyle Davis: That and I'm actually realizing I have flip flop sunburns right now on the top of my feet, so ... And it was 48 degrees when I walked my dog this morning. That's great. So the touch or the reach has gone beyond everywhere [00:23:30] else. How many countries and people have kind of gone through this system, or do you have an idea?
Abi Ferrin: It's an estimate. In Cambodia, I would guess around 1000. In Nepal, they are interviewing 40 people today for 20 more jobs. This week they'll be adding 20 more people, and they've only been ... They started, five years ago was when they came here and shadowed my studio. So they have I believe 80 on staff, and they're adding 20 more this week, so it's pretty incredible to see [00:24:00] the growth. And they've gotten some great contracts. And my project with Cambodia has been over 15 years.
What is amazing to see ... The thing that excites me the most is the resilience of the human spirit. So once you get that spark, just like for me I was like, "Oh my gosh, I have to help somebody else now that I'm free," that is kind of just a human spirit thing. Once you go through such brokenness and you've chosen to take the path of most resistance, which [00:24:30] is being happy and compassionate and giving back, it feels so good that once you get that chance you wanna give it to others. And so we see that with our groups. They create the momentum. They create the excitement. They create the charisma, because they are so passionate and it's ... You help one, and then one helps 10, and then 10 help 20, and it just keeps scaling, so it kind of snowballs quickly.
Kyle Davis: So from that, you're talking about your passion. Your passion has also led you to be the voice or advocate for [00:25:00] a lot of companies. I don't [inaudible 00:25:02].
Abi Ferrin: Mary Kay Cosmetics.
Kyle Davis: Mary Kay Cosmetics, and you've also talked to a lot of organizations as well. Can you talk about what you're doing for Mary Kay? And then also when you do go speak I know that you speak on a lot more than just domestic violence, and so we talk about that, but what is the message that you're trying to bring to people?
Abi Ferrin: My message is really just about ... And I'm definitely focused on women because I am a women's clothing designer, but in a balanced way. We're not trying to say, "Okay, me too. Poor me. I'm over here in a corner." [00:25:30] We're saying, "Okay, some of those people, some of the women in our lives are in that #MeToo." You know, that big movement that's happening right now, and I'm happy people are speaking, but my message is really about inspiring people to be their best and to do so in a balanced way where it's not out of harmony with the masculine. We're not saying men suck. We're not saying we don't like men. We're saying let's be in relationship with great men. Let's hold men accountable. Let's hold ourselves accountable. It's [00:26:00] just really inspiring ourselves to be the best leaders, the best, entrepreneurs, the best mothers, the best sisters, the best wives, just really digging into the depth of our character and choosing to be the best that we can for ourselves and our society.
I don't know if that was concise enough. That might have been ... That might need some tightening up, Kyle, if you can help me.
Kyle Davis: I think it was fine.
Abi Ferrin: Okay.
Gail Davis: I love it, and I love ... I read somewhere that you are so committed [00:26:30] to make sure that every garment that's sewed, whether it's I think about 80% here in this studio ... We can hear the machines humming in the background. But whether it's here or whether it's somewhere else that you outsource it that people are happy and that they're paid a fair wage, and I just think that's so important and it really speaks to your character.
Abi Ferrin: Thank you. Well, can I speak on this really quickly? The garment industry is one of the biggest contributors, aside from sex trafficking, [00:27:00] one of the biggest contributors to abusive employment, and Americans don't realize that they are the biggest spenders. They are the ones consuming and keeping those slavery institutions in business, so I really encourage people to focus on who is making your clothes. And I don't say that as this mantra. I say this as literally you are contributing to people being enslaved when you support brands that are not ethical.
Kyle Davis: Yeah. I mean, paying a little extra dollar amount, the [00:27:30] tax, to make sure ... if you wanna call it a tax, to make sure that people are being treated properly and fairly is so much more important in the long run than buying some cheap knock-off.
Abi Ferrin: Yeah, fast fashion is ...
Kyle Davis: The worst.
Abi Ferrin: It's awful. And it doesn't even last, so you're getting ... You may pay $300 for an Abi Ferrin dress, for example, but you're gonna have it in your closet for 10 years, so if you think of cost per wear you're not actually paying any more to buy a designer that is really conscious [00:28:00] about where the clothes are being made and who's making them.
Kyle Davis: I mean, I remember when I was living in New York City ... My mom knows who I'm talking about, but I was dating this girl who was very fashion forward. She worked in Bergdorf Goodman and had access to all the really cool clothes and had ... just was very posh in the way she dressed. And I remember one time we went down to Canal Street and we went to one of these fast fashion places, and it was like ... It was on the runway a week ago, and then now you can buy it for like 25 bucks. And she was like, "Oh, it looks good." And it looked great. And then we went home, and then she, a week later she wore [00:28:30] it and she broke out into hives. And then the seams busted, and it was just, it was not ... It looked good, but it just, it broke real fast, so.
Abi Ferrin: Yes, that's a perfect example of you get what you pay for, and somebody else probably paid, too.
Kyle Davis: Yeah.
Abi Ferrin: So, good example, Kyle. I love it.
Kyle Davis: I'm full of examples.
Gail Davis: I have a similar example where, you know, everyone's bought the knock-off purse on Canal Street.
Kyle Davis: I just wanna say something. I lived [00:29:00] in New York for five years, and the thing that I hated the most was when my mom would come and visit and then go down to Canal Street and then go buy a knock-off purse. And I have real, legitimate reasons as to why I'm anti-knock-off purse. So I wanna say that this story is a growing story for my mom, but you can thank me for it, Abi.
Abi Ferrin: Okay, good. I'm so proud, Kyle.
Gail Davis: But the big thing for me is I finally decided, "Okay, I've outgrown this. I'm gonna go buy the real purse." And it cost so much more. And I remember saying to the person, "Why?" And they [00:29:30] said, "Well, it's been tested, and each strap can hold ..." I think 25 pounds or something. Do you know seven years later I'm still carrying that same purse every single day? I've never had to have it repaired. So to your point, somebody's paying somewhere.
Abi Ferrin: Is that the beautiful Prada?
Gail Davis: No.
Abi Ferrin: Oh, it's another one.
Gail Davis: No, it's a ...
Abi Ferrin: Oops, I called you out. There might be a few of those purses.
Kyle Davis: No, those fake ones are gone.
Abi Ferrin: Yeah. Oh, no, I meant the full-price purses.
Kyle Davis: The full-price ones [crosstalk 00:29:56].
Abi Ferrin: Oh, I know that's a full-price Prada. Don't worry. I can spot that.
Kyle Davis: Yeah, yeah. But it's [00:30:00] like my issue is just it's ... And you see in this in New York, and it's not nearly as bad as it once was, but the people who sell it, they're not selling it because they want to. They're selling it because they're forced to. They have no other means of doing it, and that's just the street level here in the United States. And then you think about the warehousing issues and where they're living, and there's these horror stories in New York City about these cage condominiums where people are living [inaudible 00:30:25] just horrific. And then if you think about it and you just backtrack to where these are made in Vietnam or China [00:30:30] or some other country, and it's just horrific conditions.
Abi Ferrin: Yeah. You hear the stories of the factories collapsing.
Kyle Davis: And it's also the fake makeup, too. Have you heard about all this stuff?
Abi Ferrin: Oh, I'm sure it's toxic.
Kyle Davis: Oh yeah. Yeah, no, they did a sting on some show, and they were buying fake MAC products and fake Kylie Jenner, this and that, and women's faces were just breaking out. And they thought 'cause they were saving $30, $40 or $100 on this or something like that ...
Abi Ferrin: Yeah, but the cost of your skin being damaged for life ...
Kyle Davis: I mean, at [00:31:00] the very least it's like very cheap microdermabrasion or chemical peels or something like that, but I don't know if you want that.
Abi Ferrin: No.
Gail Davis: You know, I've been sitting her listening to you, Abi. Sometimes when someone's your friend you don't really get the whole picture until you sit in a different role, and I'm thinking how many times people ask us for female presenters and how many times people ask us for CEOs and how many times people ask us about entrepreneurs, and I'm just wondering how do you balance it all? I know you [00:31:30] have a son. I know family's very important to you. You've got all these philanthropic connections. You've got a thriving business. You have a flagship store. How do you do it all?
Abi Ferrin: You know, I'm still figuring that out, Gail, is the true answer. But I will say that experience is everything. So the more I experience, the more my team experiences with me and grows. It's a growing process. So sometimes we may feel like we're still in the same stuff, and then we look at it and we're like, "Actually, it feels the same, [00:32:00] but we have improved," and you can see those benchmarks. So my tagline is "Persistence beyond what seems reasonable."
Gail Davis: Oh, I love that.
Abi Ferrin: Yeah, that's the driving force of my whole career. I shouldn't have continued after so many "nos" and doors closed, but I just never hear "no" as a real answer. So just like, "Okay, well then there's a different way to do it."
Gail Davis: And you always keep it real ...
Abi Ferrin: I do.
Gail Davis: ... which I think is so wonderful. I have to share that last night Abi and I went to hear one of our mutual [00:32:30] friends speak, and Abi was like two minutes late, but she walked in. She goes, "Just thought you might wanna know, the designer had a wardrobe crisis." And I was like, "Everybody needs to know that!" Talk about perspective. That's awesome.
Abi Ferrin: Yeah, I had to change my outfit three times.
Gail Davis: Yeah.
Abi Ferrin: And that happens. That's the thing is it's ... Authenticity I think is so important. My industry is not known for that. It's like the fake it 'til you make it and always be glamorous, and there are parts of me that have to do that just because people won't [00:33:00] take me seriously if I show up in my pajamas, which I really would love to do sometimes.
Kyle Davis: Just wear a black V-neck and jeans every day. That's what I ...
Abi Ferrin: That's an idea, Kyle. Actually it's a great idea, but ...
Kyle Davis: Well, I think that's a good place for us to wrap up, but I think what that being said, authenticity is hugely important. And I really want to thank you for being authentic with us today and for taking the time and inviting us into your awesome studio, of which we'll take phenomenal pictures and post to the website. So, thanks again.
Abi Ferrin: Awesome. Thank you guys so much. This was fun.
Gail Davis: Thanks, Abi.