John is a Fort Wayne raised alumni of Carroll High School, Purdue University (West Lafayette), and Indiana Wesleyan (Fort Wayne). His wife, Kelly is from Huntington- the namesake for First & Wilkerson Designs. They have remained residents of Fort Wayne and have raised both of their kids in the Summit City. They are a family of entrepreneurs and own 3 businesses local here to Fort Wayne.
In 2014 John and his son used to sit around and think of shirts with funny sayings. At the time you couldn’t buy the kind of things they wanted so; they would “make” their own. Fast forward to 2017, when a change of careers presented itself, John decided to forge ahead with his own business in custom apparel. The focus was to utilize a unique approach and put a manufacturing center in a retail space. What did this mean for FWD and our customers? It meant you could come into our store with a vision, talk with our team and get it put onto a shirt, hoodie, bag, etc.
So, when you are wondering where to get that one off custom shirt with a funny saying while you were sitting around the bonfire last weekend, remember FWD. When you own a business and want quality high-end apparel for your employees, remember FWD.
We at FWD, a local family-owned business, appreciate you!
Meet the Team
Founder & Chief Executive Officer
John is a 20-year executive manager turned entrepreneur. It seems that starting businesses from the ground up is his new hobby. All jokes aside, he enjoys traveling with his family, riding motocross with his son, going to concerts, working out at the gym, enjoying his collector cars, and riding motorcycles. Self-improvement and growth are always one of his main focuses as he tackles life.
Favorite Rock Band: Led Zeppelin
Best Concert Experience: Suicidal Tendencies opening for Queensryche when I was 16. Freaking out because they opened with “You Can’t Bring Me Down”.
Co-Founder & Chief Operations Officer
With over 15 years of experience as a business owner, Kelly brings a depth and breadth of experience covering numerous industries and workplaces, where she has helped organizations solve problems, strengthen teams, and build leadership capacity. She is a student of human behavior and focuses her work on understanding her client’s vision, where they have been and what is in their way. She serves as a trusted advisor that uplifts, collaborates, and facilitates self-discovery to challenge both individuals and organizations to reach their full potential. Ultimately, Kelly’s mission is focused on optimizing people, process, and performance.
Favorite Podcast: Anything murder mystery
Favorite Book: Relentless: From Good to Great to Unstoppable by Tim Grover
Graphic Designer & General Manager
Desirae is a self trained graphic designer with almost 10 years of experience developing album artwork, branding materials, merchandise and various other visual projects of all sizes and calibers. When not designing, she spends time with her husband, digging in record stores and reading.
Favorite Album: Chemical Miracle - Trophy Eyes
Favorite Video Game: Breath of the Wild (Yes, I did get all the korok seeds)
Ben is a creative artist who enjoys learning new things here at FWD. He is skilled at digital art and drawing.
Favorite Movie: Spider-Man
Favorite Food: Pizza