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Conscious consumption is one of the hottest trends in retail marketing. 

We shop to make a difference, have an impact, build a better world. 

But many of the businesses that claim to be doing good are running on business models or operating principles that are hardly disruptive. 

Instead, they’re counting on consumers’ desire to both have their cake and eat it too. 

The more companies can convince us that shopping equals advocacy, the more we’ll buy. 

With all that said, I was curious what a company would look like  – beyond the marketing pulling at my heartstrings – running with the full awareness of what it means to truly disrupt exploitation.

A company that honors transparency and relationships will have the answers to our questions without defaulting to marketing speak or trendy buzz words, and that’s why I wanted to speak with today’s guest.

Leading a fashion lifestyle brand might be an unlikely role for someone self-described as “not a fashion guy,” but that’s exactly where ABLE CEO Barrett Ward finds himself. As the visionary behind the rapidly growing Nashville-based company disrupting the fashion industry with a social conscience, Ward was inspired to start ABLE with the mission of creating sustainable economic opportunities for women. ABLE has grown into a lifestyle brand carrying beautiful leather bags, jewelry, denim, apparel, and shoes with a primary focus on employing and empowering women in Ethiopia, Brazil, India, Mexico, and Nashville, TN.

Beyond adding new categories and communities of impact, Ward and ABLE have also grown in their ambition for social justice. In 2018, ABLE became the first brand to publish their lowest wages, creating the #PublishYourWages movement and providing complete transparency to empower and protect the fashion industry’s vulnerable workers – most of whom are women.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • The impact of rapid growth on Barrett’s mental health, and why he believes it’s important to share his “face down” moments
  • How toxic positivity around the normal challenges of running a business exacerbated Barrett’s fear of failure
  • How Barrett and his team are fostering an environment of transparency and support at Able
  • How Barrett learned to reconcile his beliefs about non-profit versus for-profit and a company’s ability to do good
  • How Able manages its relationships and accountability with partner organizations and manufacturers 

Learn more about Barrett Ward:

  • Able Clothing (Use promo code UNBURDENED for 15% off all full-price items through 12/31/2022)
  • Instagram: @able

Learn more about Rebecca:


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meet the founder

I’m Rebecca Ching, LMFT.

I help change-making leaders get to the root of recurring struggles and get confidently back on track with your values, your vision, and your bottom line. 

I combine psychotherapeutic principles, future-forward coaching, and healthy business practices to meet the unique needs and challenges of highly-committed leaders in a high-stakes world.

This is unburdened leadership

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And clearing the way for a more innovative, inclusive future.

Unburdened Leaders are breaking
cycles of workplace burnout…

Are you about this, too? Let’s meet and see if I’m your coach – no expectations. Just connection.