One for all and all for worn: How Ben Walters created the one-man brand WornAll Apparel
Earlier this year, Pabst Blue Ribbon announced Kansas City artist Ben Walters as the winner of the annual PBR Artist Can Contest.
A student, designer, artist, and computer techie, Ben Walters used his vast array of talents, as well as the winnings from PBR, to jumpstart WornAll Apparel, a Waldo-based clothing company.
The name of the company is inspired by one of the primary routes running through the city, Wornall Road. The company aims to connect the residents of Kansas City and Waldo behind a brand that can be worn by everyone.
The Pitch: Waldo just finished up their Fall Festival, where they began the celebration by acknowledging businesses with more than 30 years under their belt in this city. Being one of the newer Waldo-based brands, what perspective does your company have in relation to its impact on the community?
Ben Walters: I’m looking forward to creating recognition and establishing a presence in the Waldo community. I’ve just created a piece to highlight the Waldo neighborhood, and I have a number of others in progress I’ll be dropping in the near future. I also hope to connect with other businesses in the near future to work collaboratively.
A lot of your designs celebrate KC and Waldo, respectively. What about Waldo makes it so special to your brand?
The sense of community in Waldo is endearing, and that community embraces diversity and inclusion. That’s a set of values that go a long way in making a place feel like home. There’s such a wide gamut of great people that make up the community in that neighborhood and KC abroad as well. I hope that I can build this brand on those same values and show that in my work.
Does the brand look forward to being in the community for the next 20 years?
I sure hope I’ve got the staying power to continue to produce new work for that amount of time, and I also hope I can continue to gain interest in supporting a business that can last that long.
I only launched a few weeks ago, so the prospect of continuing to be a part of the community in that way for more than ten years is exciting, to say the least. If the community continues to embrace the work, I’ll keep making work to embrace and highlight the community.
How many people are behind your brand?
I’m a one-man brand right now. I design everything myself between work and school.
Is this work, or are you employed elsewhere?
I work full time at a local technology company repairing computers.
What was the inspiration behind the company?
I recently won a design contest for Pabst Blue Ribbon and decided that I would invest some of the winnings from that contest into starting a business. I draw almost every day, and with the success of having my work selected by such a large brand, I thought it would be good to put my passion to good use and create something to show love for the community.
That’s awesome that you were able to grow your business from that. What are you in school for/working towards?
Thanks! I’m glad I could use that opportunity to grow. I’m pursuing an education in architecture. I’d like to eventually find myself in a career where I can use my interests in design and technology to create even more.
What plans do you have in the future for your company as well as personal goals?
For the company, I would love to reach a point where I can start to collaborate with other businesses locally and grow to a point where I can showcase some products in spaces like Made in KC’s marketplace or Fetch. I’m currently just an online storefront, but I’m working on planning my first pop-up event with merchandise, so I’m hoping that will generate interest and help me grow.
Personally, I’d like to finish school and find myself in a position to be successful and have more to give back to the community.