At Work With Nfocus: Barrett Ward

How has your business changed as a result of the pandemic? We’ve had to become far more e-commerce-oriented, since 50 percent of our business was brick-and-mortar stores around the country previous to the pandemic. And we’ve had to work much harder at culture than ever before, because a significant part of the team is virtual. There is a real loss of connection inevitably caused by not being able to look at each other’s eyes.

How did you get your start with ABLE? My wife and I were living in Ethiopia, and three women who had come out of the commercial sex industry said they needed a job or they would have to return to a life they desperately wanted to escape. When asked what they wanted to do, the idea of them making and selling scarves eventually came up, and voilà, a fashion company was born.

What’s the best local shop to buy a gift? White’s Mercantile! They carry ABLE, and [they] have an incredible curation of a wide array of unique products that would give you a can’t-miss opportunity to find something special.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? As the most desperately least fashionable person I know, the gift of cool clothes is a cannot miss for me. Please send gifts to the ABLE home offices. Thank you.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever given? I’m a big fan of giving the gift of an experience to someone I love. With four daughters and a wife, the opportunity to get away on a one-on-one basis can be difficult at times. Simple staycations, a quick trip away or a dress-up evening with all the details taken care of makes the receiver feel pretty well taken care of.

What’s your favorite holiday tradition? Gift-giving is a pretty berserk time at our house. My wife, Rachel, does a great job with gifts for the children, and the children are young enough that they still totally lose their minds with whatever they get. It’s everyone’s tradition, but it's honestly about as special as it gets. And my Thanksgiving ham.

What’s your favorite locally made product? Ranger Station candles — made locally in Nashville, beautiful scents, and when the candle is done burning, you’re left with a nice whiskey glass.

What event or outing are you missing most this winter? Music! Thanks, 2020. We are in Nashville, Tennessee, dang it. Thankfully, I’m friends with Jon McLaughlin, and he’s not afraid to fire up the piano and get a dance party started with a few adults and a bunch of kids.

What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about ABLE? I think we’re pretty clear about our commitment to women, especially those lacking opportunity, and how we’re fighting for greater transparency in the fashion industry to the challenges it faces. With that said, I wish everyone could be a fly on the wall at ABLE at some point and see just how serious this team of 96 percent women is about doing genuine good in the world and how thoughtful and strategic they are about spreading that mission.

What’s your favorite item in the collection right now? Our jewelry is made here locally by our team, and because the pieces are handmade, there’s an opportunity to personalize them with a word or a phrase or a date. I’m often giving those to people as a gift with a little more meaningfulness and significance.