Ozarks Life: Jean Farbin’s passion thrives at two, iconic Ozarks’ franchises

Farbin just recently sold Jean’s Healthway in Ava
After more than 40-years of selling organic produce and bulk grains, Jean Farbin sold Jean's Healthway to one of her former employees Rachel Barry.
Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 9:00 AM CST
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - If you take a trip to the Douglas County Square, you’ll see a lot of changes being made.

The same is true for an iconic store sitting on it’s corner.

“That part is exciting because it will continue,” Jean Farbin said of her storefront.

“I had a baby, I had COVID and I bought a store all in the same year,” Rachel Barry said.

After more than 40-years of selling organic produce and bulk grains, Farbin sold Jean’s Healthway to Barry, one of her former employees.

“I learned a lot from her,” Barry said. “This was a style that made sense to me and it became a passion.”

It’s a business Jean started in her basement in 1979.

“I just saw a need,” Farbin said. “My mother had arthritis and health issues and I felt it was her nutrition.”

“It was fun to have the bulk foods; scooping up their own grains,” Farbin said of her early business days. “And an inexpensive way to start the business.”

“Don’t tell Farbin women you can’t do something,” Jean’s daughter Susie Farbin said.

Susie is another one of Jean’s former employees. Twenty years ago, she saw a need.

“People were coming (to Ava) from Springfield,” Susie said. “So I gave my mom a two year heads up that I might be leaving.”

So Susie got with Diana Hicks and the business duo created a Springfield store following Jean’s model.

“Diana called her mom MaMa,” Susie said. “I woke up and said, ‘Mama Jeans.’ I called Diana and she said, ‘yes.’

“It sounds better than Mama Lowita’s,” Diana said, “that’s my mom’s name.”

Mama Jeans hit Springfield in 2002 and shoppers came by the bunches.

“Diana’s background is O’Reilly Auto Parts and they’re known for their customer service,” Susie said.

“Customers are our friends,” Diana said, “and if they weren’t, then they are now.”

Now, the queens of healthy living have three stores in the Queen City. And that includes a new shop for its Sunshine and Campbell store.

Each of the Springfield stores have a deli for folks to enjoy some homemade specials.

Meanwhile back in Ava, the original store is doing the same thing.

“When Susie was here there was a deli,” Rachel said. “When she left there hasn’t been a deli here for 18-years.”

And Barry plans on taking her store to the next level = literally. The store will offer Tai Massage and an office upstairs to help folks cope with chronic health conditions.

“Transform this into a wellness center,” Rachel said. “When you find your passion, it’s easy to help people.”

It’s the same approach Jean took in 1979.

“Boy, time flies when you’re having fun,” Farbin said.

One woman’s career, feeding the passion of many.

“I wanted her hard work, her legacy, to live on,” Susie said about her mother.

Rachel hopes to have the deli, and the upstairs additions opened in a few weeks.

Click here for more on MaMa Jean’s markets.

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