Barrett Ward has charged himself with awakening the fashion industry, and teaching the importance of respecting the process and the hands that make the goods. Through his social enterprise, ABLE, Barrett has a platform not only to effect change but to give a voice to those so deeply impacted by poverty. ABLE employs women from seven countries through their fashionable line of scarves, leather goods and jewelry. Founded with the belief that job creation is an integral part of solving the poverty issue, ABLE is not a charitable business but a social company in the business of creating jobs.

Understanding the backstory of the brand and Barrett’s conviction that all women should be celebrated is integral in imagining the future of the company. “As fathers, we want to make sure our daughters know their worth. Through our story, we hope to validate young women,” he tells us. Not only is Barrett a father, but he is a father of four daughters. In an effort to champion for women (his daughters included), Barrett had dedicated his life to providing opportunities for those to whom opportunities are not often given. “Our storyline is finding ways to end extreme poverty for those most affected, which is women and children,” he says.

ABLE Nashville purse

ABLE works to end poverty through job creation.

According to Barrett, he was born an idiot and pursued idiocy through his 20s. It was not until a trip to Peru, when Barrett had his first brush with poverty, that he saw the jarring juxtaposition of his life and a life of poverty. “A beautiful little girl — I still have her picture — walked out of a shack and washed her face with dirty water. I thought, how does someone so beautiful end up in this situation? That just shows you how disproportionately misaligned I was with the world,” Barrett says. This experience led him to leave his job and move into the nonprofit space. A job with African Leadership landed Barrett in Africa. It was there that he began working with women. From there, he started Mocha Club, which, by allowing young adults to realize the impact of their money, fights poverty in Africa.

ABLE got its start in 2008 when Barrett and his wife moved to Ethiopia. It was the understanding that young women were making terrible decisions and selling their bodies to save their families that moved him. The story of a young woman going into prostitution to save her sister from breast cancer is one that Barrett can’t seem to get off his mind, even nine years later. The realization that these women were not degenerate but heroic badasses willing to make extraordinary sacrifices for the ones they loved inspired the company. “The bags let us tell good stories of these women,” he says.

Recent recipient of a GQ award, Barrett is not one to boast about his accomplishments. “I don’t figure things out in advance,” Barrett tells us. “I will never forget our first winter. There were tears welling up in my eyes — my arms so sore from dying scarves. Now we are doing things you can’t even imagine in a company this size.” It has been Barrett’s tenacity and dedication to the mission that has allowed ABLE to grow in its impact. The story is not about Barrett, but about his mission to protect women.

ABLE Nashville jewelry maker

Barrett and his team are searching for ways to validate their work and measure their impact. We foresee their efforts changing the structure of the fashion industry.

ABLE Nashville clutch

The company started in 2010 with scarves and has since expanded to include leather goods and jewelry.

ABLE Nashville — a local and global brand

Each product comes with a reminder of the lives you impact with your purchase.

Since the company’s founding in 2010, there has been a commitment to making truly beautiful products. Quality product development and staying true to the company’s mission are the foundations of the company. Seven years later, they are able to sell these beautiful products from their flagship store now open in The Nation’s Stocking 51 development.

Claiming to know just as much about the aesthetics of the space as the fashionable outfit his wife chose for him that morning (hint: not much), Barrett directed me to Sarah Trammell, ABLE’s interior designer. “My plan was to keep the space minimal, refreshing and inviting … approachable. I want the product to be displayed in way that invites customers to try each style of bag or jewelry. We painted the walls white so only the product would pop. My hope was to create a space that anyone who walks in curious about ABLE leaves inspired by the product and mission.”

Visit the shop and do as Sarah intended: try each style of bag or jewelry. Within the 700-square-foot retail space, you will find leather goods, scarves and jewelry and behind the walls, ABLE’s work space. Sit, touch the product and hear about the mission and stories behind ABLE. But before you head there, let us give you a sneak peek into the space:

ABLE Nashville store

Step inside ABLE’s new flagship store in The Nations Stocking 51 development (formerly the Belle Meade Hosiery), which is next to Nicky’s Coal Fired, and you enter a beautifully designed space that’s filled with natural light. “I designed the bag wall to have individual panels that tiered out from the existing wall, so each bag is highlighted. The seating area consists of a couple of vintage chairs and a bench I designed and my husband built for the space, using ABLE leather,” Sarah says.

ABLE Nashville interior store shot

The wooden floors, columns, arched wood slat ceiling and exterior windows were all preserved. The space was then updated to showcase the products as art. ABLE partnered with Micah from Good Wood and Chris Song, a local contractor. “We chose both Micah and Chris because they care about the quality and longevity of the product they deliver,” Sarah tells us.

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

The Tadesse bucket bags are handcrafted in Ethiopia and Mexico and named for one of the women with whom ABLE works. Find these at the store for $148 each.

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

ABLE’s scarves are handwoven by women in Ethiopia.

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

Barrett tells us that his secret sauce in creating a stand-out social enterprise is quality product development and staying true to the mission.

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

The products influenced the design of the space, and the simplicity reflects the aesthetics of the brand. The retail space is divided to feature ABLE’s top sellers: jewelry and bags.

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

“I’d love to say that I make all of these strategic decisions, but that would be disingenuous to the reality,” Barrett tells us. He credits his team (35 in the Nashville offices) for much of the company’s success.

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

We spy the Abera crossbody tote, handcrafted in Ethiopia and Mexico with 100% genuine distressed leather.

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

“Through much study and understanding of the social sciences, those in the development world understand that giving a woman a job leads to a much stronger benefit to a family than when given to a man. We also understand that in the developing world the disparity between women and men’s wages are extreme, and in women’s ownership of land the disparity is even greater. ABLE’s focus on working with women comes from this understanding, and our own growth and education continues in us learning how to do this the best way possible.” Read more about ABLE’s commitment here.

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

You must pay a visit to ABLE to see these stunning pieces for yourself!

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

Gracie Moakler is the founder Miriam Designs, which is a jewelry brand that employs survivors of addiction, homelessness and more to create their beautiful pieces. ABLE and Miriam Designs, with similar missions, merged to create an even bigger impact for the betterment of women everywhere.

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

“When we moved to Nashville, I felt disconnected from why I started the company,” Barrett shares. “I was just running a fashion company, and I don’t know the first thing about fashion. Suddenly, the opportunity to work with women locally came up. Everybody on our staff would affirm that when we started working with the women, they enriched our work.”

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

ABLE employs women with fair wages and fair hiring practices.

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

The Tiny Teardrop Choker features a teardrop gemstone on a gold-filled chain.

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

Pieces in the Miriam Collection are all handcrafted in Nashville.

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

The right side of the retail space is dedicated to ABLE’s jewelry line. Take a peek at their stunning pieces.

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

Handmade in ABLE’s workspace behind the retail store, these rings are delicate and lovely.

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

The women are hard at work at ABLE!

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

Like the sign says, “Who makes your stuff matters.”

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

ABLE’s workspace is dedicated to jewelry design.

Take a peek inside this Nashville company's new store!

Visit ABLE today!

Learn more about ABLE, the Nashville shop and peruse their collection here. And thank you to Leila Grossman of Grannis Photography for today’s beautiful photos!

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