Clothing boutique Olathe brings design, tailoring and printing in-house with shirts hitting store shelves soon
ADam Worrel’s vision for a garment-making and screen-printing company is finally sewing itself – nearly 4,000 miles from where it started – with a label made in KC.
First formulating the idea in 2010, he envisioned creating a line with in-house production and printing and maximum control over the supply chain. But living in Hawaii at the time, the plan just wasn’t feasible, logistically or cost-wise, Worrel said.
“So we kind of dropped it off,” he added. “Now we have the ability to do that. It’s actually really exciting to me – where it’s basically a 12-year project, to make it happen.
Moving to his hometown made all the difference.
In August, Worrel launched her Hewn tailoring studio and Southwind clothing line in Olathe under South Wind Press. Products made at the Johnson County store are expected to hit shelves at Made in North Carolina Marketplace stores this month.
“It’s pretty surreal to be at this point,” he noted. “Hawaii was definitely a great experience. I’m super grateful. But it’s a “We put down roots” kind of thing. To be here and establish this is like, “Well, this is going to last, I think, for the next 30 to 40 years.” I’m excited.”
Click on here to shop the Southwind line.
Everything from pattern design and making to cutting and sewing will be done in-house, Worrel said.
“We bought everything from the United States on this project,” he explained. “So from the cotton itself, it’s grown in Arkansas. The yarn is spun there in Arkansas. And then the yarn is brought to the Carolinas, where it’s then ground into the actual fabric. Then the fabric goes through straight from the Carolinas to here, then that’s where we cut, sew and assemble the product.
The company also donates to Harvesters with every purchase of the Southwind line.
“It boils down to, every shirt purchased or item purchased, we donate the equivalent of three meals,” he added. “So each shirt feeds a person for an entire day.”
Worrel – who taught himself screen printing via YouTube videos while earning his fine arts degree at Missouri State University – and his wife returned to Olathe in 2020 and he started Southwind Press in May 2021 after that the pandemic shut down his custom screen printing business in Hawaii.
“They shut down our business,” he recalls. “Hawaii was super strict on everything. And then, of course, all my customers were closed – retail stores and everything.
He turned to an e-commerce line of Hawaiian-inspired clothing, but gave up waiting for the local economy to reopen. Ultimately, they decided to move back to the Kansas City area to be closer to their family.
Worrel, however, hasn’t completely given up on Hawaii.
He split operations – moving some of the equipment to Olathe and leaving some on the island with a small staff to continue serving existing customers such as the Pearl Harbor Memorial Gift Shop and the Diamond Gift Shop Head.
Once business in Olathe picked up, Southwind Press consolidated with its Hawaii-based director moving to Kansas City to help out.
“I’ve spoken to my customers from Hawaii and they’ve been absolutely successful printing and shipping products here,” he continued. “That’s what got us out pretty quickly here. And since then, we have started printing for local customers. We just started with Rally House and we were doing that kind of stuff. So we do contract printing and that’s kind of the basis of the business.
Pockets of potential
With the wholesale printing side of the business already established, Worrel is now focusing on building the Hewn Tailor Shop – located across the parking lot from the printing presses, although the business is quickly outgrowing the space .
Southwind Press brought in Molly Burd to run the tailoring shop and lead production in the print shop, done in small batches with the intention of taking on more as the business grows. Watching the process quickly inspired even more designs, Worrel said.
“As I watched her operate the machines, I was like, ‘Wait, so this machine can do a three-needle stitch on top?’ and then that sparked all these new design ideas,” he recalls. “Then it was like, ‘Can we do this with the necklace?’ (We were) making these little tweaks and then it just evolved into our own internal line.
In addition to American-sourced materials, Worrel said, the Southwind line features additional details like the triple-stitched collar and pocket in colors that match the pocket design.
“We elevate our couture details,” he explained. “The pocket itself, we took a blank fabric panel and we can print the pocket template with our screen print there about six per sheet. Then we cut them into the pocket. This red is actually ink and it’s just natural colored fabric. So those kind of clean lines are materials that we really only need to stock one natural fabric and one black for.
Burd — who has been sewing professionally for eight years and graduated from Missouri State with a degree in fashion design and merchandising — created all of the patterns herself and works with three seamstresses at Southwind Press to produce the shirts.
She’s excited to help Worrel start the sewing shop, she said, and doubts she’ll have such a creative opportunity anywhere else.
“It was super fun (and) very difficult, but we’re up for the challenge,” Burd continued. “Starting it from scratch has been a unique and super cool process. Adam and I really agree on this big long-term vision. So it’s been super fun bringing in employees and teaching them. And in having everything under one roof – or two roofs here – we can make changes and products so quickly.
Both Burd and Worrel noted that they hoped Hewn would be a catalyst in making Kansas City a center for clothing production.
“It was a dream job for me to come here and really be able to be creative and start something new here in Kansas City,” Burd added. “This is just the start. I can’t wait to see what we do next.
The Southwind line is initially focused on hometown/Kansas City-inspired designs, but Worrel said it will add more Midwestern-inspired designs soon. More colors are expected and new body styles – a women’s cut and a long sleeve – have already been developed.
Also in the works: a fleece hoodie, a matching travel set for women, and canvas and leather bags.
“We have some really creative people on our team, so we’ve probably been in development for months already,” Worrel said. “So (we’re) going to keep adding styles, adding fabrics. Lots of variety to come.
The Southwind line can be purchased on line and this month at Made in KC Marketplace stores, but Worrel hopes to expand to the shelves of big-box retailers in the Metro and nationwide.
“I see endless potential,” he added.
All items in the range will also come with a lifetime warranty, he noted.
“They can send it in for repair or we’ll replace it if it’s a manufacturing defect,” he said. “If it’s normal wear and tear, we can’t cover that.”
In the tailor shop, Worrel said, designers are also working on another in-house line — United Legacy — which will focus on custom design and production for museum stores and gift shops.