Culture // 7 min Read

A True Jack of All Trades

Written by Palmetto Bluff

Nov 22, 2015

A true Jack of all trades.

The first time I met Holly Williams, I was totally star-struck. She is tall; she is beautiful; she is immaculately-dressed – and then when she began to speak, I realized that not only is she beautiful, she’s very cool, too.

“I’m Holly. Nice to meet you!” she said, walking over to shake my hand. Holly was the surprise performer at Music To Your Mouth Pig Event concert last year, and I was lucky enough to be able to meet her before she went on stage. She had just arrived to Palmetto Bluff with her family, and even after a day full of travel with her newborn baby, she looked like she had stepped out of a fashion magazine.

“This is such a beautiful place!” she gushed, eyes wide with excitement and humility. “Thank you for having me.”

After meeting her mom, her in-laws, her husband – who plays with a little band called Kings of Leon – and her sweet, teeny little baby named Stella June, I knew that Holly was a big family person. Her family members flocked around her, tending to the baby, unpacking, doing the things that helpful people do, and then she spotted my boots..teeny little baby named Stella June, I knew that Holly was a big family person. Her family members flocked around her, tending to the baby, unpacking, doing the things that helpful people do, and then she spotted my boots.

“Mom, look! She has on the Rag & Bone booties I bought for the store,” Holly exclaimed. She turned to me and added, “I own a little store back in Nashville. I just love those booties! They are the best, aren’t they?” As we agreed over the booties’ comfort and style, I thought to myself,for the store,” Holly exclaimed. She turned to me and added, “I own a little store back in Nashville. I just love those ,for the store,” Holly exclaimed. She turned to me and added, “I own a little store back in Nashville. I just love those booties! They are the best, aren’t they?” As we agreed over the booties’ comfort and style, I thought to myself,booties! They are the best, aren’t they?” As we agreed over the booties’ comfort and style, I thought to myself,,booties! They are the best, aren’t they?” As we agreed over the booties’ comfort and style, I thought to myself, she has a store too?

To clarify, Holly doesn’t have one retail store, she has two. She also has three critically-acclaimed albums, has completed several music tours and manages 19 employees. Oh, and don’t forget, she’s a new mom. And in reviewing her wide variety of careers and successes, you might ask, “Is there anything Holly Williams can’t do?”

Not that I know of.

The Catalyst of Creativity

As the daughter of Hank Williams Jr. and granddaughter of Hank Williams Sr., it is safe to assume that Holly comes by her creative juices honestly. Watching her dad’s success as a musician known for chasing his own sound inspired her to create something of her own, too. Not one to ride coattails, Holly is well known for using her natural musical talent to cultivate a sound that is unique. It isn’t country; it isn’t folk; it’s just Holly.

“My grandfather said, ‘I don’t’ know what you mean by country music. I just write songs the way I know how,’” Holly remarked. “Mixing genres, that’s what good songwriting is.”

Holly’s musical career boomed – she completed several successful world tours for a number of years. But in 2006, Holly and her sister were in a terrible car accident, and Holly’s arm was so badly injured she wasn’t sure she would ever be able to play the guitar again.

“My arm was really messed up, and my sister was even worse off. She had to have 31 surgeries and was bedridden for nearly two years,” Holly said. Not knowing what her future held, Holly began to weigh her options for other careers. She wanted to find something – other than music – that she could be passionate about, something that could satisfy her admirable professional drive.

While on tour, she noticed a void in women’s clothing stores in Nashville. She wanted items that were timeless, basic, “like good cashmere sweaters, essential denim, and good costume jewelry,” Holly noted. “Everything in Nashville [for women] was either party dresses for college girls or high-end designer clothing for older women. I wanted a store for everyday people, plus musicians.”

With this in mind, Holly and her sister opened H. Audrey to accomplish just that. As a nod to her grandmother Audrey, Hank Sr.’s wife, the sisters commemorated their heritage in the store’s name and they focused on quality over quantity in the products. Together, they curated a collection from modern designers such as Helmut Lang, Rag & Bone, and Frank & Eileen, among many others, to provide essential items for local women that transcend seasons and trends.

“People told me, ‘You’re a musician; you can’t open a store.’ But I started learning about business plans, searching for investors,” Holly said.

That was seven years ago, and H. Audrey has been a popular Nashville hotspot ever since. The store has seen its fair share of red-carpet walkers, too. From Taylor Swift to Gwyneth Paltrow to Robert Downey Jr., it seems everyone wants a piece of H. Audrey. Holly does all the merchandise buying herself, selecting each piece to ensure it upholds her philosophy of good quality items that create a look that is both stylish and effortless, much like Holly herself.

if you have one, why not two?

As a well-traveled musician and self-proclaimed foodie, Holly has been to a few places in her life. In her world travels, she found amazing items, things that are both unexpected and useful. And she dreamed of one day assembling these treasures into a single store.

“But I always thought that would be way, far away from now, like in 10 years,” Holly laughed. “But then I got a call about this gas station

that was about to be torn down right down the street from my house [in Nashville].”

The gas station was an old abandoned building whose demolition was imminent, but Holly looked past its dirty exterior and saw the bones of something bigger.

In less than a week Holly negotiated for the gas station to be the location of her next venture which she describes as a modern-day general store: White’s Mercantile. An extraordinary compilation of all things beautiful, White’s Mercantile carries everything from pillows to chandeliers to hunting knives to rain boots to bathrobes and everything in between. The best part? Each item has a unique story and was handpicked by Holly herself.

“The store was definitely the biggest undertaking ever,” Holly noted. “It’s wonderful and overwhelming all at the same time. But it’s like I always say, ‘when in doubt, figure it out.’”noted. “It’s wonderful and overwhelming all at the same time. But it’s like I always say, ‘when in doubt, figure it out.’”

And what’s the story behind the store’s name? you might ask? Well, White is Holly’s mother’s maiden name, and her great-grandfather used to run a mercantile in a small town in Louisiana; this was another way to pay homage to her strong Southern roots.you might ask? Well, White is Holly’s mother’s maiden name, and her great-grandfather used to run a mercantile in a small town in Louisiana; this was another way to pay homage to her strong Southern roots..you might ask? Well, White is Holly’s mother’s maiden name, and her great-grandfather used to run a mercantile in a small town in Louisiana; this was another way to pay homage to her strong Southern roots..you might ask? Well, White is Holly’s mother’s maiden name, and her great-grandfather used to run a mercantile in a small town in Louisiana; this was another way to pay homage to her strong Southern roots.

This spring Holly will take White’s Mercantile online with the launch of its virtual retail store, www.whitesmercantile.com. The website will feature Holly’s favorite items and favorites of some of her celebrity friends as well.

“I’m a risk-taker. What I’m doing would make most people nervous, but I have passion for it,” Holly said.passion for it,” Holly said.passion for it,” Holly said.passion for it,” Holly said.%GALLERY%on inspiration and family

With all of the creative projects Holly manages, she draws inspiration from many places to keep the unique ideas coming.

“I’ve always been one who loves multiple projects, anything creative. Whether it’s building a wardrobe, building a meal, building new songs and an album, I love it,” Holly said. “We were never raised in a household where you get whatever you want. My parents had to make their own way, and that’s what they expected of us, too.”

Holly also turns to her supportive Southern family for motivation. Some of her fondest memories involve spending holidays and summers at her grandparents’ house in Louisiana. They sat down for a traditional “supper time” meal at 12 p.m. every day.

“They’d ring a little silver bell, and everyone would sit down together for at least an hour every day. It was really special,” Holly said.

And as far as anything she can’t do, Holly says there are plenty of things.

“You should have seen me doing inventory at White’s yesterday,” she laughed. “And I also have no patience for putting things together that aren’t creative. Like putting together my baby’s swing. I have no patience for that. Or changing light bulbs. I also have the same iTunes version from four years ago because I have no patience to download the new one.”

I’m not sure about you, but I’m still not convinced.

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