Melody Parker Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, Iowa
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Katie Farwell's apparel and gift company "Well + Far Designs" is devoted to helping adoptive and foster care families and orphaned children.
One of Well + Far Designs' latest T-shirts is honey yellow and screen-printed with a decorative bee and the word "Kind." A cornflower blue T-shirt sports the phrase, "Be a Kind Human."
Katie Farwell practices what she preaches.
She's kind. Farwell also is a warm-hearted, cheerful and thoughtful woman whose apparel and gift company is devoted to helping adoptive and foster care families and orphaned children.
The Hudson-based Well + Far Designs sells apparel and gifts online at www.wellandfardesigns.com, including T-shirts, sweatshirts, insulated and printed tumblers, cards, earrings and engraved pencil sets. Her "occasional" shop at 326 Fourth St., is open one weekend a month.
Every purchase benefits an adoptive family or an organization chosen each month, such as Cedar Valley Angels, which assists foster families, or Give Hope RV, providing respite for adoptive and foster families.
Farwell's business "with a bigger purpose" began when she and her husband, Nolan, and their family embarked on their own adoption journey.
"It's a long and involved process, emotional and expensive. I started thinking about something I could do to help with our finances. I've always been creative, so I taught myself screen-printing — and got my degree from YouTube," Farwell said, laughing.
She previously majored in physical education and health at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls and taught as an adjunct instructor.
The entrepreneur started with screen-printed scarves that sold like proverbial hotcakes. That was the encouragement she needed to expand into designing and screen-printing T-shirts. Her first Well + Far Design was a vintage-looking panther that UNI fans loved. The business soon "snowballed," she said.
That was eight years ago. It took 5 1/2 years to adopt and bring home their son Jace from Haiti two years ago. He's now 6 and a kindergartner. "It just was meant to be. The kids love each other. It was worth the fight to get him home," Farwell said. His siblings are Blake, 14, Brenna, 12, and Adrian, who turns 10 in April.
"As we went through the process, I saw other families struggling, too. I felt the need to help them. It was no longer about me or us; it was about how can we bless other people? What can I do to help them? It tugged at my heartstrings."
She started Well + Far Designs in a spare bedroom in the basement of her home. The business grew exponentially online through social media and word of mouth. Then Farwell began to receive wholesale orders.
"I remember thinking, 'Am I that legit?' I could see the impact we were beginning to make," Farwell recalled.
The Farwells purchased a former insurance office building at 326 Fourth St. several years ago and converted it into her creative space. Getting out of the basement has allowed her to reclaim some personal and family time, as well.
"I work from 8 to 5 weekdays, some nights and usually my weekends are hectic filling orders. It's nice to have work be at work. I can leave it and go home to spend time with my family. When you're working at home, you always feel like you should be doing more," Farwell explained.
Farwell transformed the front of the building into a brick-and-mortar shop and opened for her first weekend in July. Earlier this year, the space was remodeled for more merchandise displays. "There is a lot of loyalty from people who have found us and want to come in and support what we do."
In addition to her apparel and accessories, the Well + Far Designs shop features home items like candles, fragrance melts and tea towels made by other Iowa artisans.
Farwell has created hundreds of designs and rotates what's available to keep merchandise fresh. Recently she started a Brand Rep program, sending each participant a new T-shirt design monthly to wear and talk about on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms.
Her goal for Well + Far is simple: "The more successful we are, the more adoptive families we can help." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.