Words: Mundi Ross
Photos: Becca Simonds
It’s always fun to discover makers through unexpected avenues such as Instagram. I guess it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as Instagram is such a popular platform these days with makers and creatives, but I was excited when I discovered The Worley Co. The small design company is Jeremy Worley’s passion project and his lovely wife Koren stands by his side. The Worley Co. dreams up beautiful and thoughtful designs that not only inspire, but impact communities around the globe. There is intention behind every design, and walking away from my time spent with them I believe they are on a mission.
What is the vision behind The Worley Co.?
Worley launched in 2013 as a side project to get the creative vibes out. I had gone on a lot of humanitarian aid trips growing up and I knew that I wanted to help in some way, so the two worlds collided, creating The Worley Co. I still feel like the long term vision is materializing and growing slowly but what I do know is that I desire to create goods that do good. We produce thoughtful, well-crafted wares that impact others whether that’s providing food for orphans or water for villages. Currently, I am working with a non-profit called Portal that turns bikes into mobile businesses on wheels in Nepal. It's really amazing what they are up to. They take old frames and fabricate to power small machines such as a corn sheller, small dishwasher, coffee grinder, or a water pump.
Is there one specific moment that sparked the inspiration to launch?
I would say there are two interactions that were inspirational for me. My brother and his buddies in Chicago started a non-profit that connected creatives and other non-profits that encouraged working together, creating a really cool synergy and all parties could benefit. The other interaction was when I was at a conference in California. I was invited to a Sevenly party and thought their business model was brilliant. Seven dollars of every sale to charity.
What sets you apart from all the other organizations with similar business models?
I believe there is a story that our products tell and heart behind every design. My desire is to live an adventurous, full life; looking to not be a green marketer, but truly wanting to make sustainable change in the lives of people. I pour blood, sweat and tears into every design and my hope is that The Worley Co.’s products make global impacts on peoples’ lives. I am also strategic and team up with different organizations that align with our vision to make sure we are empowering on a local level and not tossing money everywhere.
Are your designs specific to the non-profits you work with?
Sometimes, yes. I have a shirt in the works for the non-profit, Portal and 25% of revenues go towards helping their cause. We are also working on a steel pint glass design for Miir. For every glass sold, someone gets clean water in Liberia. Big vision would be to have a marketplace with a variety of goods with the different non-profits we support that are creating effective social change in business, water, and education. Everything needs to be done well so we will focus on the t-shirts and smaller goods at the moment but there is room for expansion for different lifestyle accessories. I design based on what I would wear and/or what my wife likes. We aren’t really market-driven.
What is your process for design to conception?
A lot of the design process is based on my outlook on life. I am always challenging myself to experience even the smallest things life has to offer and positive moments throughout the day, a sunrise, a kiss from your wife or the laughter from a child. It reframes how you live life and out of those experiences comes inspiration. I also love all things vintage and antiques, hence my latest design on adventure and the classic pennant; but then there is also the vector-based designs such as my “do cool stuff” design. Every design comes from the heart and the craving to live a meaningful life.
Typography versus hand-lettering and which one is your favorite?
I respect typography and do some myself but I am attracted to hand-lettering because of the challenge it brings me. It is the hours spent crafting a perfect stroke and the stuff you can’t see in lettering that makes it a beautiful craft for me.
Why do you think hand-lettering has become so popular?
I think people are longing for authenticity. There is a big revolution and expectation for things to be a certain way. Hand-lettering brings life in my opinion. Someone’s heart went into that design. The whole root of the second coming-of-the-maker movement is about the heart. People care more about the hard work that went into craft than just a cheap product out on the market.
What is The Worley Co.’s future?
I would love if The Worley Co. were impacting more people and moving a generation towards generosity. Money isn’t the point; it’s a by-product and required to keep the wheels spinning but not how I wish to measure success. I hope we have a more robust store, and as my design gets stronger, that will build upon itself. I would also like to see a deeper community with other makers and creators. We are part of We Live Studios now and I am excited to see where that goes.