"People like a story," Hannah Jones says, by way of explaining one of the many reasons some upstart fashion brands make it, and some — actually, make that most — don't. For Jones and her business partner Jamie Frazier, the story begins in Mt. Juliet, Tenn.
At an alpaca farm, naturally.
There, the duo bought their first spools of yarn. That led to their first line of hand-knitted Jamie and the Jones brand cowls, which led to a flood of interest in their work, which led to a shopping stop by Bonnaroo-bound British singer Florence Welch, which led to mentions in places like the pages of Nylon and Elle.com, which led to an Emerging Designer win at The Belcourt's nD Festival, and a slot as the first local designers to show at the inaugural Nashville Fashion Week ... all of which leads us to the present: They're taking it easy.
"It hit us all at once," Frazier says of the chain reaction of praise and attention that marked last year's whirlwind introduction to the working world of fashion design. A year ago, they were barely clear of their studies at O'More College of Design, unsure how they'd pay the rent for their new workspace above Belmont Avenue boutique Local Honey, where owner and designer Shea Steele had invited them to set up shop. (Making bridesmaids dresses, it turns out, is not their thing.) Now, festooned with accolades, they've got nowhere to go but up — which way up is something they still wrestle with.
"There are so many ways to go," Jones explains. It's not easy to get bigger without losing your identity when you've built your name and reputation on meticulously handmade pieces. Put another way: If Jamie and the Jones were a band, they'd have to record their entire album all over again every single time someone ordered a copy. Some of the options out there — partnering with a large-scale manufacturer, for instance — just wouldn't fit their vision. And though it can complicate things at times, the fluid, ever-changing nature of that vision has served them well. They try a lot of things, and when it's right, they just know.
"A lot of what we do is organic," Jones says — the kind of answer you might expect from a team that got started on a farm.
The People:The Legend: Little Jimmy Dickens
The Community Builder: Dan Heller
The Power Couple: Peter Depp and Kristin Vasquez
The Broadcaster: Tom Randles
The Barber: Mark Walker
The Internet Star: Jessica Frech
The Teacher: Gatluak Ter Thach
The Chef: Laura Wilson
The Artist: Vesna Pavlovic
The Councilman: Fabian Bedne
The Saxman: Bobby Keys
The Coach: Ed Temple
The Networker: Liza Massey
The Enforcer: Brian McGrattan
The Bird Brains: Birdcloud
The Poet: Sebastian Jones
The Geeks: Janet and Mike Lee