SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Deshaun Stewart said his mother’s money lessons started as soon as he was old enough to crave the latest pair of Air Jordan sneakers.
“We started having those conversations in my pre-teen years, because you’re looking at all the nice things — the fancy cars, the Jordans and the flashy clothes — and I wanted some of that stuff,” Stewart, 24, said about his mother, Kay Farlow.
“She stressed to me to only own what you can afford to lose.”
Those Jordans can cost upward of $250, and Farlow asked her young son if he could buy a pair of shoes that would get scuffed up the day he wore them outside.
“She stressed to me the importance of assets as compared to depreciating assets,” Stewart recalled. “At a very young age, she put stuff like that in me.”
Those lessons stuck. Stewart is pursing a bachelor’s degree in finance while working with Farlow’s husband, Kenric Farlow, at the Indianapolis office of Charles Schwab. He purchased his first house at the age of 20. He believes that would not have happened without the financial education that he received from Farlow.
Now, Farlow hopes to teach investment, money management, real estate and a host of other financial skills to the city residents through the IMPower Center. The center is located at 22500 U.S. 20.
Farlow rents space in the center to minority and women entrepreneurs who own a variety of financial services and real estate businesses. Those entrepreneurs collaborate with Farlow to hold financial literacy workshops geared toward helping people on the west side who are in need of those services. The building also has a hall that can be rented for community events.
Stewart is confident that Farlow’s initiative will be successful.
“My mother is a very strong-willed woman and she is going to get what she wants, no matter what the cost is,” he said. “And because of that, she’s going to be successful in her mission to spread financial literacy in those underdeveloped areas.”
Farlow said her passion stems from the struggles she saw her mother endure, as well as overcoming challenges in her life that resulted from growing up too fast.
“I grew up watching my mom struggle,” Farlow recalled. “We grew up extremely poor, but not as poor as most folks around us, because we didn’t have to worry about utilities being shut off.”
Farlow said her mother worked hard to make sure the lights stayed on, there was food in the fridge and to make sure the rent got paid. However, something had to give with her mother working to provide for her children, and Farlow said she started hanging out with the wrong crowd.
“I was a follower for a great period of time in my childhood years, so when folks started doing drugs, having sex and drinking, I was right there with them,” she recalled.
She saw things that teenagers shouldn’t see, because Farlow often associated with people who were much older. She witnessed friends and acquaintances being shot. Farlow said she has always been a curious person. That curiosity serves her well as an adult who reads books to learn the answers to questions she had about topics such as auto and home financing.
That teenage curiosity led Farlow to make a series of bad decisions.
“When my friends started smoking weed, I wanted to try it,” she recalled. “When they started drinking, I wanted to do that too.”
She followed the same pattern when it came to having sex.
“I didn’t want to be the only one not indulging and not trying it,” Farlow said. “They seemed like they were having a good time, and so I indulged and joined in.”
Farlow learned that she was pregnant with Deshaun in 1997. She graduated from Clay High School in 1999.
“When I had my son, I remember thinking that I don’t want his life to look like mine,” she recalled. “I didn’t want him to experience the struggle.”
Fortunately, Farlow began to follow the example of an older sister who decided to live a different lifestyle. Her sister got a job at a fast food restaurant, got married and went to college to become a medical assistant.
“Watching her create this lifestyle and quality of life that we didn’t have in our house started me saying I want that,” Farlow said. “I gravitated toward that.”
Farlow said she was always a good student, so she got good grades even as she made bad decisions. Farlow enrolled in Indiana University South Bend after graduating from high school. She majored in accounting, but switched her major to marketing, all while working at a telemarketing company, raising her son. Farlow eventually earned an associate’s degree in business administration and bachelor’s degree in marketing.
She took a job at Jordan Ford after graduating, and that is where Farlow decided she wanted to learn more about car financing and the financing of real estate. She and her first husband, whom she married while in college, purchased a house.
“Then I started seeing how people were coming in and their cars were costing as much as my house and I was like how is it possible that their loan is for five or six years and my house loan is for 30?” she recalled.
Farlow soon started learning all that she could about real estate, investments and finance. She started buying properties in town and renting them to people and owned four rental properties.
By 2017, Farlow was learning more about the racial wealth gap in South Bend, and she longed to do something to give Black people the kind of financial education that her mother did not have. However, she remarried in 2016 and was living in Indianapolis. Her husband is also from South Bend, but he wanted to remain in Indianapolis.
Still, Kenric Farlow encouraged his wife pursue her dream. The information that Farlow learned about the racial wealth gap was a call to action. She learned, for example, that 35% of Black people own their home compared to 69% of white people.
“I see those numbers and alarms are going off inside me because I have the skills to help people escape those numbers, and at that moment, the IMPower Center was born,” she said.
Farlow soon realized she could not change those numbers by herself. She decided to recruit entrepreneurs to have a presence at the center and to be able to offer workshops on real estate, investments and other financial-related topics.
Thomas Capers, owner of Capers Realty, is one of the entrepreneurs who rents space at the IMPower Center. Capers said he has been in the realty business for about 20 years and has owned his own company since 2008.
Capers said he does most of his business online and did not feel the need to have a brick and mortar presence.
“But when she decided to come into town to invest in South Bend, she reached out and told me her vision, and I was on board,” Capers said. “What she was doing, I wanted to be a part.”
Source: South Bend Tribune