Featured SHE : Holly Williams
White’s Mercantile, H. Audrey, Room & Board
Where is SHE now?
If we had one question to ask Holly Williams, I think we’d ask, “May we borrow a hat?” Truly a woman of all trades, Holly somehow prevails as a master of all. Artist and songwriter, entrepreneur, home flipper, fashion influencer slash modern-day tastemaker. Oh, and not to mention mother of three. We didn’t probe her about her coffee intake, but y’all, this lady never stops!
Ironically of all the hats she wears, you can almost bet your boots not to find rhinestones or cowboy hats in Holly’s collections. A basically Nashville native with just 3 infant years in Alabama, Holly comes from a long line of heavy hitters in country music. And while she cherishes her family’s legacy of writing and performing, she humbly walks her own creative path, neither in the shadow of nor leveraging the spotlight from her father and grandfather, Hank Williams and Hank Williams, Jr. Maybe you’ve heard of them?
Don’t miss hear me, the woman is a remarkably raw and honest songwriter. With three critically acclaimed albums in her name, Holly still spends much of her time traveling and performing everywhere from off-beat venues that she simply enjoys to the stage at the Grand Ole Opry.
Music, however, is certainly not the only song Holly sings. Inspired much from her non-celebrity side of the family, Holly has fashioned a host of retail stores in the greater Nashville area, from her first boutique, H. Audrey in 2006, to her now 5 White’s Mercantile stores with 6 more on the horizon in 2019. Seriously, we’re not sure if she sleeps. A true creative trailblazer whose heart for making the old new and the new nostalgic, Holly’s White’s now boasts a Room & Board project, where Holly saves, refurbishes, and restores old homes and cabins into quaint bed & breakfasts.
We told you. So many hats.
Where was SHE then?
Even in a ubiquitous music town, the allure of celebrity and their lives behind the curtain captivates everyday audiences. I wonder how many fans would admit genuinely picturing Hank Jr. wearing boots with his bathrobe? Walking in similar shoes as Holly myself, I won’t speak for the Williams, but life behind the curtain is blessedly more boring than most would like to imagine. He was always Dad before Bocephus, she claims, but it was her dad and grandfather’s honesty and creativity that has always inspired and encouraged her, not their celebrity.
“So nothing felt too out of the ordinary, but I am so proud to be from the amazingly talented family I am from, and I hope all of our music lasts for a long time!”
While the gene certainly didn’t skip a generation in Holly, music has never been the only muse of her imagination. Her now pervasive White’s Mercantile brand offers a raw look into the fashion and relics close to Holly’s heart. Much of the stores’ contents are treasures she finds while traveling or touring, a monetized mosaic of the stuff she finds beautiful. The nostalgic, general store inspired storefronts are a one stop shop for anyone, any day. Walking into White’s is like strolling through Mayberry and finding modern treasures. An unlikely coalition between what is and what has always been.
The building itself is an old gas station and just emanates Nashville. The initial dream for the store sprung from a similar blueprint from Holly’s mother’s side of the family. Maternal grandparents, June and Warren White, owned a small mercantile in Mer Rouge, Louisiana in the late 1800s, a tradition of heartfelt restoration and curation that remains the cornerstone of all Holly’s stores. White’s is a modern day antique, as familiar as it is chic, championing the real, the authentic, and the unapologetically characterful parts of her history and our city.
Without any real credential to speak of, Angela called the number of the noted office. “I felt like I was calling the White House,” she laughs, “but I figured, ‘If I’m not asking, someone else is, so why not me?’” As the Lord would have it, the president of that company picked up the phone. Not quite the direct line to Washington, but not a bad first point of contact. He invited her in that evening to interview for 1 of 2 sales positions with himself and company’s CFO. Thirty one stories later, she’d bagged and sold her first luxury high rise units and would go on to do three more buildings with the company before starting her own, Abode Nashville, and eventually finding her home with Compass.
Who is SHE now?
A creator, innovator, and someone who never quite learned how to sit still – an artistic jitter for which we are all grateful. She attributes nearly all of her successes to her family, both on the guitar strumming Williams side and the retail-ing White’s side. As it is for many great SHE’S, Holly’s strength, grit, and eye for the beautiful are a derivative of many fearless women in her life. Her mother and sister, Hillary, who in and of herself is a triumphal narrative of perseverance, as well as the ever loved June Carter Cash, who was Hank Jr.’s godmother.
Friends and family remain the anchor at the centerpieces of all of Holly’s work, creativity, and projects. “Coming from a family of so many creative talents is a reminder for me to always stay true to my artistic vision,” she says. For Holly, success seems to be more in the style and the story than in the fame. “Go where you win,” she says. “It’s all about finding your path in life, being happy with it, and never chasing someone else’s dream.” You heard it. Wear all the hats you want, just make sure they fit your head, not your neighbor’s.