Get to know Abby Farr of Tillage Clothing Co. from our Summer 2021 LAUNCH Cohort!
What exactly is your business?
Tillage Clothing is a sustainable brand, with all apparel made in the USA, that gives back to the fight against human trafficking.
How did you come up with your business idea?
I came up with my business concept while living in Encinitas, California, a beach town in North County, San Diego. I loved shopping local boutiques with an eye for unique brands, particularly those made in the U.S. I tried on a pair of $250 LA-made trousers and couldn’t resist buying them. Once I got them home, I realized how rarely I may end up wearing them, as a surfer girl who spent most of her spare time in a wet suit vs. high fashion. However, this very purchase sparked the idea to create a pant with some similar lines with much more casual, versatile fabric, and before I knew it, I recruited a sewer friend to help me sew my first design.
Having an entrepreneurial spirit from childhood, and an advocate against human trafficking from my mid-twenties, I knew whatever business I would actualize would have to give back to this cause.
How did you find out about Aviatra?
Honestly, I have to give COVID a lot of credit for this one. I contracted the virus in January 2021, and, living with my parents at the time, I forced myself into hibernation in their finished basement for two weeks. With zero energy to do much else, I spent a fair amount of time networking, which is where I found Scott Adams on LinkedIn. He and I scheduled a phone meeting, and before it was over, he was singing praises to Nancy Aichholz and highly recommended I connect with her regarding the program. He thought it might be a great fit for me, where I was with my business and my desire to take Tillage to the next level.
What is your inspiration?
I would have to say my inspiration is two-fold. In regard to my apparel designs, leading with a women’s pant, was inspired by my grandmother, who wore fabulous pantsuits as she taught piano and voice at multiple colleges in Tennessee, when most women of her generation swore by dresses and skirts. In my core, comfortable pants are a go-to for my outdoor, free-spirited, adventurous life. And I wanted to offer such a style to other strong, independent women.
As for the cause, I first became aware of modern-day slavery in my 20s, watching heart-gripping footage of young girls being trafficked in India. Something in me broke for them and felt some deeper connection, as well as a compulsion to do something. I’ve never been able to let that go.
What has been your biggest accomplishment with your business so far?
Honestly, I would have to say my biggest accomplishment so far is running a successful Kickstarter campaign to get Tillage off the ground. It was an extremely focused, well-researched and planned out event, with press and live launch events built into it. It felt like a simulation of running the actual business. Plus, it built a solid foundation customer base, helped network and reconnect with long lost friends. The platform was an excellent resource for sorting out brand identity and direction as well, and forced me to have my business plan in order before putting Tillage out there to the masses.
What was the most valuable thing you gained from your experience with Aviatra?
So far, as much as may have thought I already knew about marketing, from my college degree and the active practice of it the past 5 years of running my business; from PR to Social Media to SEO, so many knowledge bombs have been dropped into my lap, Aviatra is giving me the confidence and essential tools to implement for the duration of running Tillage. I’m also really looking forward to learning from the financial experts the program brings in and apply that information.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting your business?
Myself. Since most of my experience in the fashion industry, up to that point, was experiential and unique connections, but no degree in the field, it was easy to second guess my design ideas, plans and strategies against the pros in the industry, and a cut-throat one none-the-less. I had to become comfortable with owning my own flow, finding trusted advisors, and utilizing thick skin and grit, to overcome that adversity. Now I can consider Tillage a pioneer in the “jogger” and athleisure world.
Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
Five years from now, I hope to be accruing a $1 million plus, in revenue, mostly through the direct-sale-to-consumer model. I want to be writing my first book to be published. I hope to have a small, outstanding staff that not only generate great wealth for the company but find the brand to be the most satisfying work environment and team culture. Mobility-wise, I want to have fine-tuned systems in place, so I can work remotely from anywhere. That entails a lot of travel, as Tillage grows nationwide and internationally. Five years from now, I want Tillage to be the go to brand for the conscious shopper, which, by then I dream of being the norm rather than the exception.
Any advice for future Aviatras?
If I could offer advice for future Aviatras, I would say, put on your life jacket, and be prepared to take a deep dive into your business and goals. You are going to get gritty with them through the program, and you will need to block out the time and mental focus to take it seriously and soak it up. You will get out of it what you put into it. There is so much rich application to take your business to the next level. Another consideration is how impactful your cohort of other Aviatras will be to help encourage you and keep you motivated through the program. They are a wonderful support system that will help get you through. Meanwhile, the knowledge, resources and connections the expert guests share are priceless.