May 19th, 2015

Wonderland: a 4-Part Series

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ARTISTS FACEBOOK CHALLENGE. DAY 5.

Well, like the Scarecrow to Dorothy, this one seems like the hardest one yet. Maybe that’s because this was my biggest creation, built to last yet gone nonetheless. Or maybe it’s because this week marked the anniversary of losing our little spark, Lauren. Whatever the reason, it is with a heavy but hopeful heart that I wrap up this Facebook Artists Challenge with a journey back down the rabbit hole.

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Let me first borrow some other people’s words before I try to find my own. Cameron Connerty called 12South a “magic little house.” Nancy Perla Michaelis remarked about the 360-degree nature of my brand (I wore it, I decorated it, I built it, I employed it, I spoke it, I wrote it, I played its music, I represented it within the community).

The Guardian wrote this: “a cosy store established in a grey clapboard house set back from the street, is the most cutting edge, stocking affordable designer clothes sourced from across the US alongside vintage sunglasses, jewellery and chocolate. It specialises in the informal but chic look favoured by those too hip for Urban Outfitters, and its liberal credentials were confirmed by a 10% discount for anyone registering to vote in last year’s presidential election while at the store.”

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Jim Ridley of the Nashville Scene called it “playfully chic,” and then later he wrote about me: “the brainiac in high school who walked around with Marx in her backpack, with a head full of Broadway show tunes, with a snappy comeback at the ready for any sorority girl who dared look crosswise at her combat boots…three parts Amelie to two parts Juno, the pixieish proprietor of the 12 South boutique Two Elle. A petite almond-eyed wisecracker who runs the only fashion shop in town—maybe in the world—where you can get a copy of Kafka’s The Trial to go with your Converse high-tops, Lowe presides over a four-room enchanted kingdom of hip couture and a glamorous staff of well-read, culturally aware (and endearingly attitude-free) hotties. But it’s her personality that comes through in the store’s mix of geek-chic ’90s retro, high-style jeans and distressed college T’s, and slim silver pendants that depict girl-power superheroes.” And I’m sorry, world, I will never stop quoting him, because his words brought me unparalleled joy and honor….until Stephen Gilbert called me an “all-weather-whatever’s-clever-now-and-forever- tougher-than-leather woman.”

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So, those are their words, but I still struggle to find my own. I was just looking at photos of 12South, ones that I had never used for anything, ones that weren’t glossed over by stories I’ve already told. I said aloud, “I can’t do it,” and closed them up. I can’t say goodbye. It’s been many years. But somehow I just can’t do it.

Maybe I’m just not ready to be cute and clever about it. Maybe I’d like to think that the story is still being written. And really I don’t need to say much at all, because so much of it is already documented here or on twoelle.com. And so many of you were there! You wrote on those chalkboard walls I put up for you. You sat with me on the porch swing. You plastered graffiti, and you ripped it down at the end. You posed with me in the ads that lined local bathroom stalls. You sat on the couch I selected. You played on the pool table. Or the piano. Or the drums. Or the stage. Or the pinball machine that ONE DAY before it started smoking. You hung up your clothes on hangers that had bunnies on them. You walked out the doors I had shipped in from New York. You wondered why the exterior window frames on a structure that was built in 2008 looked like they had been there for hundreds of years (Me! I did that!). You wondered why there was a sign on the door that said, “Went for Paletas. Be back soon.” (Me! I did that!) You talked to me while I stood behind a bar, the last place I stood that felt as safe to me as a stage. And you bought things that I designed, and they still show up every now and then in your photos, bringing a deeper smile to my heart than you can imagine.

You were there. So, I won’t tell the whole story. I’ll just show you some photos of that thing I made. {I broke them down into 4 groups. I know. I’m far outside the scope of this Challenge. But here’s what: I don’t care. Join me down here in wonderland if you like. And Amanda Paytas Stevens: my deepest thanks for nominating me for this opportunity to share, waking me up, and reminding me to do what I do best.}

Regarding nominations, I started this Challenge in childhood and nominated in Nashville. I’ll now end it in Nashville and nominate in childhood with my family. I’m nominating Ninfa Lowe, Michael Lowe, Daniel Lowe, and Adam Lowe, creatives each in their own way.

OK, kids.

PART 1: THE MAGIC LITTLE HOUSE

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PART 2: BUILDING WONDERLAND

The day after the Hill Center Grand Opening, I felt an overwhelming sadness; the building phase was over. If we’re being honest, I think I liked building wonderland more than I liked living in it. Maybe that’s my truth: nothing ever felt as good as waking up too early, drinking too much coffee, getting my hands too dirty, and building a dream.

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PART 3: LIFE IN WONDERLAND

As mad as a hatter’s tea party and as confusing as a Caterpillar’s question, this was life.

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PART 4: GOODNIGHT, WONDERLAND

There’s something particularly poetic about building a dream and then having to break it down with your own hands. These were difficult yet liberating days, when I began deconstructing my world into manageable pieces that I could discard or pack away. That empty space still haunts me, but I always find something inspiring about the darkness.

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October 31st, 2012

Let It Shine

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I knew I came home for a reason. The season has officially started. I’ve thrown in some purple & orange hair extensions, and I’m finally in a city where I don’t look like a complete clown on game days. Well…..maybe. But it’s game time, y’all, so I don’t care! Purple & orange for the win! And for many months to come….

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Posted at 4:29 pm by rachel in: After Wonderland, Converse

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October 10th, 2012

Still Chuckin’

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Those of you who are my Facebook friends or who follow me on twitter @twoellerachel will note that my freedom from long hours on a sales floor has me flaunting my ability to wear heels. However, please do not be alarmed. My closet floor, aka the star players (pun somewhat intended) in daily rotation, still looks like this. Yes, I’m enjoying some newfound friends, but my heart forever belongs to CT.

Posted at 11:27 pm by rachel in: After Wonderland, Converse

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June 25th, 2011

A Perfect Match

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As June is traditionally a wedding month, and as I prepare for the upcoming nuptials of my dear Mandi Roo, and as New York welcomes marriage equality to its list of bragging rights, I cannot help but ponder this notion of partnership. Love takes many forms these days, and we need to take it where we can get it and express it as best we can. So, as I wonder what exactly this whole love thing is all about, in walks my new favorite couple. With their children grown and their nest now empty, they chose matching purple Converse as a creative token of solidarity. They glow with happiness, comfort, and mutual support every time I see them, but, most importantly, they know how to celebrate the simple marks of love in their partnership.

Well, there’s a lesson in there for us, Nashville. Whether you’re demonstrating your adoration with matching Chucks or with a wedding band, let’s make this the summer of love.

xoxo

Posted at 5:39 pm by rachel in: Converse

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March 27th, 2011

Nash Fash

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Fashionistas far and wide are buzzing with excitement over this week’s first ever Nashville Fashion Week. This is a week that’s all about celebrating our local fashion scene. What better way to do that than to sport our very own custom Nashville tees? We’re currently hosting our widest selection ever, but they’ve been selling out faster than we can design them! Click on More Pictures to see the styles our mannequins have chosen, the men’s options, the grey v-neck that started it all, and the shirt that News Channel 5 chose to feature in their article about Nashville Fashion Week. Oh, and as if supporting both local fashion and local business weren’t enough, a portion of the proceeds from the pink shirt in the bottom left corner benefit breast cancer awareness. So many causes, so many shirts, and only 7 days in this fashion-infused week!

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Posted at 2:49 pm by rachel in: Converse, Events

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