By Victoria Scott
Reese Witherspoon has been a household name for decades, thanks to starring roles in hits like Legally Blonde and Walk the Line. But in 2014, the actress received additional attention after announcing her clothing line, Draper James. The name pays tribute to her grandparents, Dorothea Draper and William James Witherspoon, whom she thanks for educating her in Southern etiquette and style. Though she was born in New Orleans, Reese enthusiastically identifies Nashville as her true home.
Her original offerings were limited to clothing, but the line quickly expanded to include accessories and home goods, all with a bit of Southern flair. As of now, 50% of the items are produced in the United States, and as her product inventory expands, her team is eager to bring additional business to factories here in the South.
But with any clothing line, half the fun is the in-person shopping experience, a fact that no doubt motivated Reese to start looking for a brick-and-mortar store. And in October of this past year, Nashville residents got their wish when Draper James opened its doors in the 12South neighborhood. To Reese, the city embodies the Southern charm that she hopes to reflect in her line, and she pays homage with clever product names like the Tootsie jean and the Acklen dress.
The store itself is adorable, with baby blue and white awnings and a striped wall that practically begs for a cute Instagram shot (“Pretty as a picture,” written in script, covers the window). With the friendly Southern greetings from associates, not to mention the complimentary sweet tea, Reese has certainly cultivated a warm, Southern environment in Draper James. Not to mention the store’s neighbor — Sprinkles Cupcakes! So you can treat yourself to delicacies for the eyes and stomach, all in one trip!
More impressively, Reese has also used this store as an opportunity to give back to her hometown community. In partnership with the Girls Inc. program (an effort from Nashville and Middle Tennessee’s YWCA), Draper James offers store internships and financial literacy training for local teenage girls. The YWCA then continues to work with the girls as they explore science and technology career paths and develop their future plans.
Between Hattie B’s exceptional hot chicken, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and the smiles from strangers passing by, I’m constantly reminded of how Nashville is truly a beacon of the South. With its cheery magnolia prints and Nashville-themed items (the Vanderbilt tote, anyone?), Draper James definitely recognizes and honors Nashville’s special Southern charm, but it’s the noteworthy efforts to ensure the success of Nashville’s next generation that sets the brand apart.