Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Artist Highlight: Southern Skirts and GIVEAWAY

I have to be honest, when I saw Ashley's Etsy store, SouthernSkirts, I wanted to buy every tote/clutch in it! Though her store focuses on her fabulous skirts, her clutches and totes are so cute AND so affordable. Hard to beat. So this week, I am welcoming Ashley from SouthernSkirts, who has an awesome interview and giveaway and a discount for a readers!
Thanks Ashley!

Here are some of my favorites from her store (also count that Red Zinnia Clutch above!):

Hey Ashley! Welcome! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your awesome clothes and totes!
I’ve been running SouthernSkirts full-time for nearly two years now. I live in Nashville, Tennessee with my husband John, an aspiring architect and great helper-outer with things like screenprinting and building shelves, and we share our home with two cats, Wedgy and Stanley.

After graduating from the University of the South, I headed west to California, where I taught fourth grade for two years, and then I realized that fashion needed to be my full-time occupation. So I went to FIDM in Los Angeles and have been immersed in fabrics and patterns and sewing ever since. I’m not making a fortune (yet!), but my mom raised me to know that money isn’t what matters – I like that I get up everyday and get to play with colors and fabrics; it makes me happy and isn’t that what’s most important?

I started SouthernSkirts because I think clothing production has just become a sad, mundane business. I don’t see any reason why the clothes we buy shouldn’t be made right here in the U.S. by the hands of our friends and neighbors, and why those clothes shouldn’t be special, with a soul that mass-produced stuff just can’t match.

Besides the coolness you have in your Etsy store, what else do you like to do?
I love, love, love to cook, especially for other people. It’s so satisfying to set down a warm, nourishing plate of food in front of someone I love – and even better when they actually like it! My current favorite recipes are Vinegar Glossed Chicken (from Martha Stewart) and Lemon Bread (from Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen).

When I’m not cooking, I’m on a long, hilly walk with my husband, dancing by myself to Lady GaGa, rubbing my cats’ bellies, doing laundry, or reading about politics. I’m a serious political junkie.

What first drew you to sewing and making clothes and bags?
I’ve been paying attention to clothes ever since I can remember – my mom tells me she had to hide all my clothes when I was little, otherwise I’d keep changing outfits.

We shopped at resale shops when I was growing up and that’s where I learned what made a quality garment – it may have been used stuff, but my mom knew what to look for as far as construction details and materials. She also had an eye for the unusual. I was the only kid I knew who wore tweed knickerbockers throughout elementary school.

She worked really hard to make sure my brother and I always had clean, pressed clothes for school. I learned early that your appearance matters. It may sound superficial, but it’s the truth.

So clothes have always been the thing that makes my heart beat a little faster, that makes me feel filled up. It wasn’t until college that I realized I wanted to make a living with fashion. I majored in Art History, so that gave me a good basis for color and proportion, and I made arrangements to intern in NYC after graduation. But it wasn’t until fashion school that I learned to sew and sketch and draft a pattern. Maybe I got a late start in that sense, but I think my knowledge of clothing was being fed for a long time.

What inspires you?
Color and pattern, no doubt. Putting together color or print combinations is so much fun – I could spend all day designing things to screenprint and picking out what ink color to use on which fabric. It’s also why so many of my things are sewn from printed fabric – I just can’t resist the designs and colors that are out there.

Other than that, I’m always a little surprised at what inspires me. Like Nashville’s old Post Office which has since been turned into an art museum. I found myself staring at the gorgeous Art Deco engraved silver doors thinking, “That would make a great start for a dress!”

What advice would you give to aspiring artists and Etsy shop owners?
Ignore the people who tell you that you can’t make a living as an artist or an artisan. I just don’t believe we’re on this planet to spend all our time worrying about our checking accounts. Maybe it’s weird, but I try to imagine myself at the ripe old age of 90 looking back at my life and I don’t want to have any regrets like, “Why didn’t I just try this or that?” In the end the only thing you really have is your time, so why waste it being unhappy or doing what someone else thinks is appropriate?

As for Etsy advice, I’m actually making my first treasury as I write this, and now I get all the fuss about photographs. The things I’m picking for my treasury are helping me learn what makes a great picture. So I’ll be making more treasuries to get idea for how I can improve my own photos – they’re what sell an item first and foremost. I’m finding things that I don’t really even need, but I want them because the photos are beautiful.

Also, ask questions. Lots of them. Ask fellow Etsians, your county clerk, your state revenue department, other artists – don’t be afraid of looking silly or stupid. Your business and your success are too important not to ask every question you have.

Thank you DoveBirdDesigns, for this opportunity! Good luck to you and all the artists out there!

Thank you Ashley for your sharing such inspiring thoughts and crafts!

In honor of highlighting local, east Tennessee artists, Ashley is hosting a giveaway here at A Girl and Her Scout!
She will be giving away some of her most awesome
Green Canvas Lotus Screenprint Tote

to the chosen winner (chosen via a random assorter) on Tuesday, October 12th so be sure to get in your entries by then!

To enter, head over to her Etsy Store, SouthernSkirts, and leave a comment here about your favorite item(s). Additional entries for: 1) becoming a first time follower of A Girl and Her Scout 2) Posting this giveaway with a link to my blog on your blog 3) Posting this giveaway with a link to my blog on your facebook and/or twitter 4) “Hearting” or adding SouthernSkirts to your “Favorites” on Etsy and/or 5) making a purchase out of her store (one entry for every purchase). Be sure to leave a new comment for each additional entry!

In addition, through October 12th she will be offering a 15% discount to all A Girl and Her Scout readers! YAY!!! Just use key word "skirtscout” at check out to receive your discount.
Your discount will be refunded through paypal so be sure to message SouthernSkirts with the keyword when you checkout.

Happy shopping and crafting and many thanks again to Ashley for participating in my Artist Highlight of the week!


  1. My favorite item that she offers is most definitely the Asian Print Turquoise Cotton Skirt.

  2. I like the green bag
    enter me in the contest

  3. I love the Koi Fish Print wristlet! All kinds of cute items here.
    jhbalvin at gmail dot com

  4. hearted her shop
    etsy name jhbalvin
    jhbalvin at gmail dot com

  5. first time follower of your blog on gfc as jhb.
    follower number 25.
    jhbalvin at gmail dot com