Two months ago today I wrote about a new boutique coming to 115 South Gay Street. Brandon Rader and Julia Ford schooled me on east coast and west coast fashion. For someone whose color palette runs from dark blue to black, it was a struggle. It’s not necessary for me – or you – to attempt to imagine the look: The store held its grand opening this past Saturday joining Bootleg Betty, The Village and James Freeman Interiors as new businesses to open a store front on the block this year.
The last two months have been filled with incredible amounts of work. Their space features fourteen-foot ceilings (I’m guessing), which is very cool until the walls have to be painted. Branden and Julia took on that and many other low-fashion tasks in order to get the store opened before Thanksgiving; the goal they set for themselves when last I talked to them.
They weren’t alone. Business owners on the block offered help and support. Ben Hubbard of The Village was mentioned as was Javier Rodriguez of Cocoa Moon. People who live on the block have offered encouragement. Friends also pitched in when needed and have been a great support. The dream catchers hanging in the store and the dream catcher paintings are works donated by friends. While the last couple of months have involved a large amount of work, they’ve also had their share of fun. Julia said what I’d heard others opening shops say before, “Every time a new shipment would come in it was like Christmas.”
Much of what you’ll see in the store did come from friends or has been re-purposed. Dan Russell from Oak Ridge built the counter from re-claimed barn wood. That counter is decorated with the photographs of dozens of customers and their hashtags: Make a purchase and they’ll take your photograph. The dressing room frames were once frames for dog kennels. It’s a theme of frugality which runs through the store. They have items ranging from just a few dollars to over two hundred.
At the top end of the price range are Whitney Eve jackets designed by Whitney Port. Her jackets have been seen on the likes of Heidi Klum, Jessica Alba and Rihanna, which impresses me, because as out of touch as I am with pop culture, I’ve actually heard of those three. Whitney got her start on MTV’s The Hills and you can snag one of her jackets for $185 to $210.
The best seller so far has been a bullet necklace made by Alicia Marie Designs of Maryville. As you can see in the photograph, if you know pop culture better than myself, Jamie Lynn Spears is the celebrity wearing that these days. Re-purposed, one-of-a-kind jewelry from Megan Escalante of East Western. Megan lives in Asheville and was kind enough to show her support by driving over for the opening.
Flight of Fancy jewelry from California is also featured. It was only after choosing the line that Julia and Brandon learned the owner attended UT. Various pieces of the jewelry in the store includes hand-cut agate, turquoise and more unusual materials such as coyote bone and buffalo teeth. The clothing and jewelry, (other than the jackets mentioned above) ranges from ranges from $10 to $140, so there is something to fit most budgets.
The grand opening was overwhelming. Julia said she looked up at one point at “it was shoulder to shoulder throughout the store.” It had to be an exciting moment. Check them out. Visit them this week or on Shop Local Saturday. Like all businesses downtown, they need your support.