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Our Founder was featured in Bold Journey! Read it here

Our founder, Kerry Farris, was feature in Bold Journey. Please check out the article HERE.

Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Kerry Farris. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.

Kerry, looking forward to learning from your journey. You’ve got an amazing story and before we dive into that, let’s start with an important building block. Where do you get your work ethic from?
Growing up in a classic Midwest suburban home with my hardworking parents, college wasn’t part of their journey. My dad started working at 13 to support his family after his father passed away. He was also an entrepreneur before getting married, owning a tavern while also working full time for the Railroad. After 40 years, he retired with a well-deserved pension.

On the other hand, my mom chose to be a stay-at-home mom when my siblings and I were young. But she kept us busy! Between scouting, dance, softball, camps, and piano lessons, she made sure we were never bored. When we hit our teenage years, she dove back into the working world as a Real Estate Agent where she worked until she was 75 years old.

Growing up, we were told to “work hard.” But it took me a while to understand that there’s more to it than just working hard. I eventually learned the importance of “working smart,” finding a balance between putting in the effort and using strategy and efficiency to achieve our goals.

Thanks, so before we move on maybe you can share a bit more about yourself?
We knew we wanted to have a give-back program but were also worried about how to stay accountable. That’s why we chose 1% for the Planet. It gives us the structure to plan our giving year-round. We can also work with other companies on shared goals (such as Humble Design). It has opened our eyes to the amazing non-profits we can support right here in the Chicagoland area.

We are excited to finally be in a new office and warehouse after 4 years! This will allow us the opportunity to scale and have a dedicated team meeting space.

There is so much advice out there about all the different skills and qualities folks need to develop in order to succeed in today’s highly competitive environment and often it can feel overwhelming. So, if we had to break it down to just the three that matter most, which three skills or qualities would you focus on?
My professional experience, creativity, and persistence would be the three areas. Many younger people think they need to open a business by the time they are 30, but people of any age can be entrepreneurs. Also, the older you are, the more knowledge you acquire.

I had a past stint as an entrepreneur when I was 35, and while it had many years of success, it ultimately failed. It was a challenging journey, and I had always felt that I didn’t have enough “time” to learn what I needed before becoming an entrepreneur. Some of which was having the confidence of make the hard calls.

When I opened my business seven years ago, it was a completely different model than today. I pivoted when I had grown exhausted from my consultant-only role. I was able to pivot because I could envision the success I now have received because of my past experiences and knowing what I needed to do. The confidence was there in a way I didn’t have before.

Creativity goes hand in hand with imagination. Without imagination, it’s hard to see what something can become. But you also don’t want to be all about the idea and not the follow-through!

Persistence is key because there are many ups and downs, but in the end, if you just keep going, you get somewhere.

What’s been one of your main areas of growth this year?
We had been achieving growth steadily for the past four years, and I could see that we were ready to start scaling. It was a scary time because I would have to scale in a way that we could still handle financially.

I decided to pursue more independent sales representatives to show our line to a wider range of Independent Retailers across the country. We have added 30 sales representatives in the past 12 months, most of them (over 75%) in the past six months.

To arm them for success, we had to create catalogs, swatch sets, customer samples, and more. I have sent off surveys, made countless calls to check in, and really rallied them to get excited about selling for us. They only get paid when they sell, so if the stores don’t like your products, they will quickly stop showing them.

It has also led to a wide range of internal operational changes and improvements to keep up with the orders and ensure the satisfaction of our new customers.

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