Local Business Spotlight: Zoë & Hadlee

I have been writing this blog for the past year and it  has been so much fun. I started it because I just wanted to improve my writing skills and as a creative outlet, but I’ve really grown to love doing this! Lately I have been thinking about what direction I wanted to take with it in this upcoming year. (Spoiler: there is a lot I want to do!) One thing I would love to do is to promote a local business every month! A sort of highlight of an individual and their shop.

You could definitely say I have a soft spot for local businesses. My first ever “real” job, I mean like more than pulling the neighbor’s weeds and babysitting, was at a local business, Sparkling Tiara. Then I moved on to Billy Goat Coffee Cafe, a locally owned and operated coffee shop. If you know me or have been following for some time, you know that was a little over a five year affair! Overlapping that time I also worked for a few other assorted local businesses. I think the fact that (besides six hours a week for two months when my second job was at Justice) I have worked exclusively at local businesses gives me a unique perspective. I have seen the hardships and challenges, I have felt the family ties of small shops, and I have experienced the behind the scenes of these businesses. I know how much each purchase is valued.

I want to help foster support for these hardworking individuals. I am a proud small business supporter and I want to help others to embrace it as well! So stick with me as I feel out the details, but for now I am so excited to introduce my new, monthly segment- my Local Business Spotlight. Today I am starting with a new find, a precious store called Zoë & Hadlee. A sweet acquaintance, Ali, is the owner and creator of this locally run shop. I asked her a few questions about her store and the realities of running a small business. Here is what she had to say.

For someone who has never experienced your shop before, how would you describe your product? “In our family when you buy someone a gift we call it a happy. I wanted to create a line of gifts of some of our favorite “Happies” in hopes that others would be blessed by it as much as we are. We offer home decor and customized products such as Shirts and coffee mugs. We love to take old vintage items and fix them up. For example, old pictures frames that we paint and distress to give them a new look.”

What makes your products/services stick out from other providers in your area? “We try to make many of our items unique so that that each time you shop with us you find something custom or new.”

What was your inspiration to start your own business? Why did you specifically choose to do what you do? “Zoë & Hadlee are the names of my two beautiful girls who were my inspiration for the business. They are so fun and full of life- and I wanted that to reflect in our business. It all started really as just a hobby, but grew to more pretty quickly. I had been praying for a while to have something that I could do on the side and things just kind of fell into place.”

What was our number one, greatest challenge to getting started? “The greatest challenge for me was just getting started and getting all the equipment I needed. But God is so good and He provided it all. When people got wind of what I wanted to do all the sudden I had people giving me the tools and materials I needed to get started or selling what they had for little to nothing. Before I knew it I had all the equipment needed to get my feet off the ground.”

What gave you the courage to take the leap and start this shop? “The encouragement and support of my family and my faith is truly what gave me the courage to get started. ”

Why is it important for people to support local business? “When you support a local business you are supporting a dream. It is so important to support each other and help other small businesses! ”

What do you think is a misconception people have when it comes to shopping local vs. shopping corporate?  “I think people tend to go more corporate just because of convenience, but in my opinion you tend to find better quality and experiences when you shop small business.”

If you could accomplish one major goal in 2018, what would it be? “My goal would be to have business steady enough that I could stay home more and have Zoë & Hadlee as my main business instead of my secondary business. ”

What is your top piece of advice for someone with a dream of owning a local business? “My top piece of advice would be not to give up. Building a business has its up and downs, but if you love it and you work hard at it you will see the fruit of your labors. Just have the faith!”

Here are a few samples of the precious items that you can purchase from Zoë & Hadlee! I hope you enjoy. The coffee mugs are my favorite- and a great holiday gift. 

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More Family Photos (From Our First Time Homeowners Photoshoot)!

Last week I blogged about our First Home Photoshoot with SwakPhotography. I am so obsessed with her photos and I only shared a handful of the DOZENS of golden images she gave us… So it’s not surprising that I am posting a follow up with more images!! In particular, of my sweet sweet baby girl & our little family in her new nursery. My only regret is not pulling the cats in!
Nolie was so funny during our session. Carrie arrived for our shoot around three, seconds after little Miss woke up from her nap… so her facial expressions range from wildly surprised to extremely confused then on to giggling then bored. She also looked SO concerned in a few outdoor photos when several loud trucks went by. She was so distracted! Even though I had envisioned her just laughing non stop for our entire shoot (yeah I know, totally realistic expectations of a five and a half month old), I am actually so much happier that we caught so many of her adorable expressions. She is such a curious and intelligent baby. I love watching her explore the world and try to understand everything around her. It’s really humbling in a way. Her genuine astonishment makes me appreciate everything so much more.
Anyways, I hope y’all enjoy these precious images. Also, Carrie is so much fun to work with and one of my favorite photographers! I love her style- it’s unique and elegant. Definitely check out her Instagram to see what I’m talking about !(: Also stay tuned, one of my other favorite photographers (Soph) has offered to do a little lifestyle shoot of the fam bam! It’s going to be so sentimental to look back on after we have done some of the more serious house renovations we have planned!
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Clothing Details:

Me- Shirt: Banana Republic // Jeans: Lucky // Boots: Lucky // Cardigan: The Limited // Ring: Tiffany & Co

Michael- Shirt: J.Crew // Jeans: Lucky // Shoes: Sperry // Watch: Fossil // Belt: Fossil

Nolie- Shirt: Janie & Jack // Jeans: Old Navy // Shoes: Baby Gap // Bow: Janie & Jack

Rug: Target

Hair by Aly Thayer 

A couple weeks ago I was feeling adventurous. So when Michael had a weekday off he took the baby for a few hours and I headed over to my girlfriend, Aly’s hair salon. I wanted to try something new – which if you know me is big because I have had the same haircut since I was eleven.
Aly cut off about four inches, balayage my hair, and to top it off- I got bangs. Let me just tell you, I LOVE it!! Aly is so talented. She was super honest about the limits of my hair as far as color went. Her priority was setting realistic expectations and keeping my hair healthy. She told me sometimes she gets clients in who want drastic color changes and she isn’t afraid to say no. In my opinion, that is so important! I have a relative who’s hairdresser just wanted to get paid. She didn’t look out for the hair’s best interest (okay that felt weird typing, but it’s real) and this relative’s hair started falling out!! They literally fried it after years of excessive dye jobs.
The salon, Salon West, was also precious. It had a totally Nashville feel. There was hardwood and exposed beams, which is such a trendy look right now. The “dry bar” was super hip and industrial looking. Overall it made me feel cool, but still totally welcomed. If you need your hair done, do yourself a favor and contact Aly! Check out her Instagram to see some of her latest hair wins (and cute belly bump pictures)! Or you can click here to drop by her website. She has a killer portfolio and some helpful hair tips on her blog! Let her know I sent you over too. I want her to know I’m bragging on her, she deserves it!

First Time Homeowners

October 27, 2017 Michael and I bought our very first house together! It is beyond adorable. I feel so blessed! We now own 1800 sq ft of blank canvas to build our lives on. (Plus Michael’s workshop. He’s very very excited about that). I love the backyard, the location, and the giant windows! It is such an amazing house. We have had a roller coaster of a ride. We started casually looking several months ago, but every time we thought we found the perfect house we either got outbid or inspections revealed massive issues. One house needed easily $30,000 in basic repairs before we even touched aesthetic remodeling! It started to become very disheartening. However, two of my girlfriends, Sophie & Brittany, kept saying the same thing. “God has the perfect house for you”. Even though I knew it was true, it was still frustrating spending hours and hours looking up and visiting houses.

However, now looking back I can definitely say it was worth the wait. In today’s market buying house is tough! We were so lucky to have the experience we had. The sellers of our house chose our bid because of a letter we attached talking about who we are. They actually asked to meet us at one of our inspections. We had a great time walking around the property as they explained how to care for the pear & fig trees, where their boys liked to play, and other personal details. The wife even knitted our baby girl a pink blanket! It was such a relief to have people so friendly. They even supplied us with boxes to move in! As we were getting to know them I couldn’t help but think about how right my friends were! It felt like this house was meant to be. Especially when we got a call from our real-estate agent, my momma. The mortgage company had called to ask her if we wanted to go down to their office in Hendersonville, or if we wanted to meet in Mount Juliet. The agent said that he usually went to a local cafe. He asked my mom if we thought we would be able to find a Billy Goat Cafe… He was totally unaware that Michael and I had met there when I was 15 years old. What a perfect place to sign our names on this new stage in life! I thought that was unbelievably cool.
After we got our new keys we picked up seven gallons of paint (I can’t wait to do before and after pictures) and headed to the new house. That afternoon our friend Carrie, of SwakPhotography , (you may remember her from our style shoot) came over to document our first afternoon in our first home. We had so much fun taking pictures and laughing at Nolie’s many expressions.
I am so grateful for everyone who helped us make this happen! We had a great team and I would totally recommend using them. We used Josh from US Bank (Mount Juliet branch) and Heidi Nanto, my mom, as a real-estate agent. I would love to connect you if you would like! Enjoy some of these precious photos of our family and new home!
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Clothing Details:
Me- Shirt: Banana Republic // Jeans: Lucky // Boots: Lucky // Cardigan: The Limited // Ring: Tiffany & Co
Michael- Shirt: J.Crew // Jeans: Lucky // Shoes: Sperry // Watch: Fossil // Belt: Fossil
Nolie- Shirt: Janie & Jack // Jeans: Old Navy // Shoes: Baby Gap // Bow: Janie & Jack
Rug: Target

Trunk or Treat 2017 

Last night we went to Nolie’s first trunk or treat at the Hermitage Church of the Nazarene (the new church we’ve been attending the past few months). It was a serious blast!! We met up with Sophie and walked around with our… wait for it… matching “bestie bees”. Cuteness overload! Thank you Target for supplying these precious costumes. 
It’s beyond crazy to me that next year they will be waddling around with their baskets, collecting candy. I’m so excited for that season of life, and yet so terrified by how fast everything is going. When I was pregnant every day felt extra long while I was waiting to meet my girl. Now I feel like I blink and a month has screamed by! What’s happening!? 
Anyways, I’m loving this fall weather and also having Sophie and our Mia girl back in town! Enjoy some beyond precious photos below & comment with your favorite baby costumes.  

// overalls: American Eagle // sweater: Ensemble Nashville // boots: Lucky // watch: Fossil 

// Nolie’s bee costume: Target 

A Step Towards Healing 


Monday morning we woke up and saw the terrible news about Las Vegas. My heart ached for the victims and their families who’s lives were changed forever. One of my most favorite people ever is staying with her husband on the strip in Las Vegas while the band he tours with has taken up residency there. Even though she was safe, I couldn’t help but spend my morning thinking about if her and her sweet new baby had been in the line of fire.  

 
Before my baby girl was born I worked for a lady who goes to church with my dad. My job primarily consisted of dropping things off to various offices around Nashville and picking up signed invoices. Now with the baby I don’t have time to do that very often, but still do a couple a times a month. Monday was one of those days. As I drove I flipped through stations on the radio. My heart broke as I heard the body count rise and as people shared their stories. I stopped for a while on one of my preset stations for a Christian radio show. The man was talking about learning to heal after tragedy. I listened briefly, but was still feeling incredibly emotional as I pulled into the office I was visiting- a pediatric dentists office. It hurt me to think that the people effected had moms that love their children as much as I love my baby.  

 
It felt like I walked into the office with a grey cloud looming over me. I quietly unloaded the product and brought it inside, completely stuck in my own head. As I walked in a little boy, maybe three or four, walked up to me without saying a word. He followed me around with huge eyes. His grandmother asked if he was bothering me and I replied he wasn’t. I asked the little boy if he wanted to help. He gave me a shy smile and without a word followed my every instruction. As we quietly arranged the product I brought, I couldn’t help but smile. Here was this little boy unaware of the evils of this world, unaware that our skin was a different color, unaware of the concept of selfishness. He only had honest curiosity and a desire to help. When I finished I gave him a quarter I had on me to “pay” him for his hard work. As I walked back to the car I realized that a tiny piece of my heart had been healed. I had been touched by this child’s genuine desires.

  
When I got home I scooped up my baby to kiss and to love. She smiled up at me with complete trust and adoration. I made one of her toys dance above her head and she laughed. And again, a tiny piece of my heart healed.  

 
Half an hour later we went to brunch at a house favorite, Monells at the Manor. The seating is set in communal fashion. When we arrived our table was empty, but soon an older couple joined us. After a few awkward minutes we had engaged them into a lively discussion of my love of bread. The jokes soon turned to conversation and we learned where they were from, what they did for a living, that she was retired Navy, and more. Soon, as all things seem to do lately, the conversation turned to politics. We agreed on some things, disagreed on others. However, more importantly than that- we all listened, we all shared, and we all respected each other. No one flung mud. No one stooped to cursing or name calling. We just had a conversation. (I am a big fan of conversations over meals. I think food brings people together and softens hearts. There is something unifying about sharing a meal with a person. It puts the participants on equal ground. I think there are tons of biblical examples of that). 

 
As we left that table I felt my heart get lighter. It gave me faith in honest conversations and respectful listening. I sat in thought as we drove on to our next destination. I recounted the events of the morning from my heartbreak to the current moment. I realized that I was still terribly sad for the victims of Las Vegas, and I was still mourning the wickedness around me. However, the authenticity of a child, the love and innocents of my baby, and the intelligent debate I had participated in had changed my perspective from that of the early morning. I had found some good and it was healing.  

 
As we go about the next weeks I hope we all pray for all of those suffering, wether from unexplained violence, natural disasters, or ignorant hate. However, I also encourage you to live in your moments. Don’t miss the small things that quietly heal our hearts and brighten our world if we let them. 

“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check, but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love”
                                  — J. R. Tolkien 

One Day in Nashville: Culture, Food, and Fun 

Yesterday was so much fun. My cousin Stephanie is in town so we wanted to show her around some of our favorite places! Here is a run down of our day of local eats and fun exploring! 

We started off at Sweet Biscuits, a locally owned, small business that serves breakfast. We bought several different types of gourmet biscuits to share- ham and cheese, three cheese spinach and bacon, cranberry orange, and chocolate chip. 

 

From there we headed down to the Nashville Farmers Market!! It was bustling with families and local vendors. We made our first stop at my dads favorite booth — the farm milk. We bought regular and chocolate milk there. (The chocolate milk is so rich and creamy, it’s more of a dessert. We are obsessed). Then we wandered through the food and local crafts. It was so pretty! The weather was perfect and somehow it instantly felt like Fall. The fresh veggies, hay bales, and corn stalks set the perfect scene! Also, Nolie somehow slept through our entire time there! After wandering the booths and watching some live music we walked along the timeline monument that’s in the nearby Bicentennial Capital Mall State Park! It’s a beautiful area with gorgeous greenery and several different monuments and statues, including a “natural” amphitheater. The sunny skies, slight breeze, and laughing family made my heart so thankful.  

 

Next we jumped in the car so my dad could take us on a new adventure. We watched out the car window as the downtown skyline faded and we ended up on Nolensville road. After a somewhat sketchy stop for gas, we ended up at a place called Plaza Mariachi. (I’m including a link to their website here because I can’t even explain how cool it was!!) Apparently it’s an old Kroger that they renovated to look like a traditional Mexican outdoor market plaza. It has live music, these hanging curtain dancers, and fun vendors with tasty food! We tried the nachos at one place and a unique honey pizza at another. We also tried some fancy smoothie drinks with fresh fruit and then house made ice cream! There was so much to see and do. It was a seriously fun time. I can’t wait for Michael and I to have our next date night there! I’m definitely going to be taking him for the salsa night.  

 

After we watched a show (which happen in the main plaza throughout the day and is free) we took Stephanie to our last stop, the Shoppes on Fatherland. It’s a thriving new area of East Nashville that is dedicated to local business. We love it! We always go to this one store on the block that sells the coolest basalmic vinegars. Dad has become a sort of collector. Then we wandered around a few other stores, including one shop owned by a blogger I love!! It’s called the Shine Project. She employs inner city, first generation college student to make jewelry, of which the profits go into their college fund. Y’all have to check her out! 
After we finished up there we headed back home. We made delicious pasta and half baked cookies with ice cream. Seriously, it was an A+ kind of day.