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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November 8th, 2011

Here….for Now

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Dearest friends, family, and loyal followers:

Once upon a time, a girl had an idea. She envisioned a wonderland where people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds could come together. She began this journey in a small house with a red door on 12South. While there, she met many of you, shared many joyous walks through the neighborhood, and collected treasured moments. Then, in 2009 she moved her wonderland to The Hill Center. There were new treasured moments, new red doors, and new cherished family and friends whose impact have further defined and personalized what this journey is all about. Now, after Christmas this wonderland will close its doors.

We will officially begin our close-out sale on Black Friday. Surely, there will be deals, but our bunny and Nashville shirts and sweatshirts will not be marked down. They are now becoming collector’s items and are already quickly selling out. We also encourage you to ask us about our furniture and fixtures. Perhaps you can now create a little wonderland in your own home.

And so, as is the case in all good stories, this chapter has come to an end. The girl will crawl out of the rabbit hole and press on to her next adventure. Your kindness, support, admiration, and compassion will inspire each step we take through the looking-glass and beyond. For that, we cannot thank you enough.

It’s been a lovely fall, bunnies, but the time has come to say goodnight.

Posted at 1:46 pm by rachel in: Bunny Love, Events

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August 2nd, 2011

Back-to-School: Our New Favorite Holiday

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Sure, at some point in here we’ve probably claimed that Black Friday is our favorite holiday, but here’s what, Nashville: Tax-Free Weekend celebrates shopping AND school! It is therefore our ultimate favorite holiday. Starting this Friday and running until Sunday night, you won’t pay any sales tax on apparel under $100. And unlike our friends and neighbors, we offer you ONLY apparel under $100, so everything in the store is tax-free. And yes, of course we have Nashville and bunny shirts in new colors to celebrate the holiday. And yes, of course we have summer items on sale. And yes, of course our A/C is cranked up. And yes, of course we printed bunnies on backpacks.

See you this weekend!

Posted at 5:39 pm by rachel in: Events

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July 27th, 2011

Movie Night

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Although this summer has been more about the small than the big screen, we are of course movie-lovers here in Wonderland. So, when asked to join our Hill Center comrades Billy Reid, H. Audrey, and Cosmetic Market in raising money for the Belcourt, we had no choice but to jump in.

So, here’s the party plan:

This Wednesday, July 27, starting at 5:30, the nD festival will come to life at the Hill Center. You can purchase tickets for $10 at Billy Reid, and there will be treats and festivities at all participating stores. Rumor has it we’ll be home to the Yazoo and veggie display (something for everyone!). So, come celebrate cinema with us, but be sure to shop, too, because at the end of the night, we’ll all be donating a portion of our proceeds to the Belcourt.

Let’s go to the movies, Nashville!

Posted at 1:39 am by rachel in: Events

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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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