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    The New Southern Shop Spotlight: Rodney Simmons

    What was once an old, run-down brick building, now a lush, Tennessean dreamland. On Chattanooga’s Warehouse Row, creative energy flurries—echoed in the hearts of designers like Rodney Simmons. The city’s renaissance reflects the essence of The New Southern— where reinterpreting, reinventing, and reimagining flourish.

    Rodney envisioned REVIVAL as a place where opposites abound. “I approach design – whether food, music, interiors, or garden – as a series of ‘calls and responses.’ For every matte, something shiny. For every grand, something humble. For every loud, something quiet,” he says. Like the rolling Smoky Mountain hills that encompass this Chattanoogan boutique, there’s no lines to be followed; there’s curves and flexibility, allowing opposites to shine.

    Showcasing a hybrid of styles, Rodney allures budding artists and artisans, and we can’t help but be captivated by his embracement of differences. A testament to The New Southern, his brick-and-mortar is a safe haven for creatives to design with an open mind, beckoning those who walk in its doors to look for the beauty in the unexpected. Rodney is the Traditional New Southern, weaving a sense of heritage and sophistication throughout his space, while honoring the past to give meaning to the present.

    We chatted with Rodney to uncover how REVIVAL speaks to The New Southern and his thoughts for female entrepreneurs as Southern style shifts in landscape.

    Alyssa Rosenheck: Tell me about REVIVAL. 

    Rodney Simmons: REVIVAL is a modern, Southern purveyor of antiquities, home furnishings, lighting, curious objects, and luxury gifts. Created by myself and Billy Woodall in 2002, this Tennessee-emporium has become a must-shop resource for homeowners and design professionals alike. I spent almost a decade in the New York men’s fashion world creating showroom and retail store environments. After my tenure as Menswear Director of Presentation at Ralph Lauren, I returned to my native South while carrying that design passion as a seed for REVIVAL’s creation. Billy brought his early career’s extensive financial and construction knowledge to REVIVAL, helping the retail business to blossom and grow to include online sales and a separate interior design firm, Revival Interiors.

    AR: REVIVAL is filled with visual inspiration from room to room. How has the shop contributed to the modernization or updated Southern style?

    RS: REVIVAL is known for crashing unexpected periods, materials, forms and ideas - free of restraints, rules, and establishment expectations. There are no rules.

    AR: What innovative trends are you seeing with Southern style across the country?

    RS: The best interior designers and merchants (serving as sort of Southern style ambassadors across the U.S.) are indeed freed of expectations and restraints in the new century. With print magazines, non-stop social media, showhouses, trade showrooms, and amazing design shops, Southern style is fueled more by opportunity and creativity than perceived formulas and tradition.

    AR: How have you mastered all the growth with the shop?

    RS: An amazing core of designers, decorators, and support staff continues to propel REVIVAL’s growth – which includes the retail store, an open-to-the-public Annex warehouse, a highly-stylized interior design studio, and an online website, I (the creative) and Billy (the business) lead the pack - opposites do attract.

    AR: Is there structure or are there any tips to share when you grow rapidly?

    RS: Having a plan, buying the best, hiring the most talented – these are ideas key to a successful business that will survive rapid growth. However, knowing that those ideas are primarily a “map” (and allowing yourself and the business to remain flexible) is of paramount importance.

    AR: What advice do you have for female entrepreneurs?

    RS: Female design entrepreneurs have such an amazing opportunity in the 21st century. What advice does REVIVAL have for upcoming female entrepreneurs?

    Be focused
    Be true
    Be kind
    Be good
    Be forthright

    Be fun

    AR: What’s your life motto?

    RS: Borrowed (re: stolen) from my sweet friend Kreis Beall (owner and Creative Director of Tennessee luxury resort Blackberry Farm):  

    Good, Better, Best
    Never let it rest
    Until the Good is Better
    and the Better is Best

    I daily borrow her mantra — always striving for wonderful customer service, beautiful product, and experiential retail.

    AR: The place you go to get inspired?

    RS: I get inspired in many places, but a few favorites especially fuel my spirit: Le Sirenuse hotel clinging to the Amalfi Coast, the Musee Rodin in Paris, New Orleans on a jasmine-laced night, and the clipped-and-sheared gardens (or the pool) of our home perched atop Missionary Ridge.

    AR: How do you continue to differentiate yourself in the marketplace? 

    RS: REVIVAL competes daily with contemporary online shopping, a buy-it-for-less-do-it-yourself mentality, and overnight immediacy. A carefully edited inventory, the beautiful environment, and purposeful customer service allow REVIVAL’s experiential retail to beckon the chicest of clients. Truly, it is “Lights, Cameras, Action”!

    AR: Design advice that you’ve received that made all the difference?

    RS: A treasured friend, Bobby McAlpine, encouraged me early as a merchant and designer to acknowledge my own innate style and approach. This lauded master stipulated that, like athletic or musical abilities, I’d need to perpetually exercise, train, use, critique, cross-train, and expose my own design eye or it would be of little value. I’ve never forgotten his quick-but-amazing lesson.

    AR: What’s the best piece of design advice you could provide for creative entrepreneurs starting out? 

    RS: Have fun or go home.

    AR: Who are some of your favorite artists/makers? 

    RS: Bobby McAlpine (and his band of creatives led by Ray Booth and Susan Ferrier) is a long-time favorite architect, designer, poet, and wicked tongue.    

    Addie Chapin is an adored local Tennessee artist working in mixed media (think paint, brown paper bags, and linen canvas) that at once conjures ancient scrolls, vintage game boards, and a forgiven future. I am thrilled to include her brilliant works among REVIVAL’s treasures.

    AR: What’s your advice for mixing old with new? 

    RS: Mixing of ancient and modern isn’t proprietorial, and is indeed more a manner of design thinking. It’s the tension between opposites (much like between my partner Billy and myself) that creates the most interest and energy.

    AR: My momma always said… 

    RS: HA! My REVIVAL design colleague, Cynthia Mitchell, and I were just recalling Southern childhood colloquialisms, including “You never know where Jesus is….” 

    What could be more Southern (especially a Samaritan story for a preacher’s son like myself) than to thread a little church into our design work? 

    For me, my Momma’s directive isn’t only about aiding the needy. Indeed, I think my Momma sort of knows that holiness and glory can be found in the most unexpected places. We just need to look with open eyes and hearts.

    For me, that’s the New Southern.

    AR: What’s your favorite house-warming gift?

    RS: French fragrances are a lush go-to house-warming gift – especially a hand-made candle found at REVIVAL.

    Among my favorites? Cire Trudon’s Abd el Kadr (Morrocan mint tea), Diptyque’s Baies Noir and Mad et Len’s Spirituelle.

    AR: Design book that you will always have on your shelf?

    RS: There are a lot of outstanding design books, but my all-time favorite tome is John Saladino’s Villa — this favorite architect-designer’s chronicle of his 1920s Santa Barbara property transformed into the most timeless of estates.

    AR: What’s currently on your nightstand?

    RS: An Eye for Beauty, the fabulous new design must-read by interior designer Beth Webb (who just happens to be a Lookout Mountain, Tennessee native).

    For full article and photos:

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    Growth Strategies: Market Penetration, Product Expansion, Acquisition

    Featuring: Embellish and Willa Collection - Terri Holley

    When Terri Holley opened Embellish, the boutique retail store on Frazier Avenue in 2005, she was capitalizing on the success of her investment in Carlisle, an upscale line of women’s clothing sold through independent consultants. The storefront gave her more visibility and a way to offer high-quality shoes to coordinate with each Carlisle clothing look.

    Her focus was on growing her business organically and building her market penetration. “It was really important to me when I opened Embellish to grow my business organically. I really wanted us to get to know our clients, understand their needs, and get to know them personally so we could find the right products to meet their needs. That was my focus for a number of years and we experienced good growth.”

    After a move to Warehouse Row in 2009 and larger retail space, Holley expanded her product offerings to include accessories, more handbags, scarves, and new lines of shoes. Each year for the next five years, the business experienced double digit growth.

    In 2015, Holley acquired the North Chattanooga based Willa Collection. “Willa gave me access to a ready-to-wear business that I could not have entered very easily. It also offered terrific synergies with Embellish, such as clients that I already work with and others who we have not been able to reach. Some women want new shoes for a same outfit, others want to change the outfit.” Currently at 2 North Shore on Manufacturers Road, Willa Collection will rebrand under the Embellish name and move into the Embellish Warehouse Row storefront this fall.

    Holley admits the biggest surprise in the acquisition was learning how the buying process for apparel differed from shoes. To help with the transition, she hired store manager Alex Sachel, who has buying experience in New York City. Yet her research and strategies for new shoes and apparel will remain the same: listen intently to clients and watch what is working in markets that match well with the Chattanooga area market.  “The more you get to know your client, the more you understand their needs. You’ve got to be informed. Research, research, research,” she says.

    Recently, Holley sold the Carlisle business to focus her energy on Embellish and Willa

    Collection. Looking to the future, Holley hints that a second location for Embellish may be in the works.

    Article By Camille Platt

    Photo By Rich Smith

    Read the rest of the article at City Scope >

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    Bellhops ready to take on moving industry with new executive team

    With a new executive leadership team in place, tech-based moving company Bellhops is transitioning from the startup phase to a growth stage—and leaders are ready to take on the "big-box" moving industry. 

    Since January 2016, founders have made four C-suite hires. Co-founder Cameron Doody said they've assembled an "operation dream team." 

    First, veteran businessman Scott Downes came on as the chief technology officer; Katie West, who helped launch and run Groupon Home, was the next big hire as chief operating officer. 

    Next, the team brought on former ForeverCar LLC and SwervePay Chief Financial Officer Dan Piscatelli as CFO. 

    Uber regional general manager Luke Marklin started last week as chief executive officer, rounding out the new leadership team.

    "This all really started with hiring our CTO in January of 2016," Doody said. "At that time, we were squarely pegged in the startup phase ... mainly providing labor only and moving into the full-service phase."

    In September, Bellhops started beta testing its own moving trucks in order to be in more direct competition with big name companies in the $18 billion moving industry. 

    They now provide full services in 19 of the 23 cities they serve.

    "We will be live with full service in all 23 in short order," Doody said. 

    Here are four things to know about the changes. 

    The latest hire, Luke Marklin
    The Harvard Business School graduate was most recently responsible for ensuring Uber's success in Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Arkansas markets.

    "We wanted someone with pretty heavy operational experience," co-founder Stephen Vlahos said. "Technology brings this company together and is central to how the company scales, but at the end of the day, this is a heavy operational business."

    Leaders were impressed with Marklin's work at Uber and that he'd been given the responsibility to manage operations in the Southeast, Vlahos also said. 

    Marklin was based in Atlanta, so he knew a little bit about Chattanooga, and the more he and his wife learned, the more they fell in love with the area, he said. 

    When he connected with Bellhops leaders and heard about what the business was doing, he was impressed with the vision and company culture, he said. 

    "I think that Bellhops is on a path to be a really big company," he said. 

    He's used the company for his own moves a couple of times and had positive experiences, he also said. 

    The technology
    The tech platform the company created makes the process of hiring movers easier. An automated system helps run operations. It coordinates scheduling, online orders and customer communication.

    "The thing that differentiates us from traditional movers, first, is the ease of two-minute online booking," Doody said. "These are actual bookings, not requests for a call or quote ... Customers can go on and get an instant online estimate."

    Customers also have the option to call a customer service representative if they prefer.

    Marklin spoke about his recent experience using Bellhops. He said it was nice to get an email with information about the movers, including a photo and other identifying information.

    It eases the potential stress of inviting someone new into a home to move valuables, he said. 

    The disruption
    The moving industry has been slow to adopt new technology and innovation, Doody said.

    "We believe that traditional space is going to have a hard time competing if they don't take on a model like ours that uses technology to create efficiency," he said. 

    Use of technology reduces overhead costs and improves the customer experience, he said. 

    Marklin said he saw firsthand through working with Uber the ability for technology to make significant, positive changes in an industry. 

    "[I've seen] the disruptive ability that technology and a fresh business model can have on an old, fragmented industry," he said. "All those similarities apply for the moving space. I think the technology and team [are] poised to disrupt and grow rapidly."

    The brand
    "We knew the No. 1 thing we had to get right in this industry was the workforce—our movers," Doody said. 

    The tech-based moving company uses young, reliable, athletic college students to do moves in cities across the country. 

    The customer experience needed to be on point. So they spent the first three and a half years performing and learning from about 100,000 moves. 

    "[The movers] shoulder the brand and the customer experience at the end of the day," Doody said. "It was really important that we got that right." 

    Disclaimer:'s parent company is Lamp Post Group, which has a business relationship with Bellhops. Editorial decisions for this publication are made independently of Lamp Post and Bellhops. 

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    Chattanooga-based Bellhops wants to make moving greener

    Moving company tests reusable bags, bins in Atlanta

    Since its founding in 2011, Bellhops has positioned itself as an alternative to big-box moving brands with its Uber-like, on-demand moving and lifting services.

    Now, the Chattanooga-based moving company is offering a way to get rid of its conventional boxes altogether when its customers employ Bellhops to help with their move. Starting in Atlanta, Bellhops is launching a pilot program to replace cardboard boxes with IKEA's giant plastic, reusable bags and Bellhops bins to offer a more eco-friendly approach to moving.

    Called Bins & Liners, the new offering allows consumers to order IKEA's iconic Frakta bags instead of cardboard boxes to allow for easier movement of household items and to avoid the need to discard so much cardboard.

    "Plain and simple, the traditional moving industry uses way too many cardboard boxes. That's why we're testing a greener alternative using reusable bags and plastic bins," Bellhops President Cameron Doody said in a statement. "If this pilot program is successful, we are going to be looking at ways to make it more available and sustainable in other markets."

    The 19-gallon Frakta bags, which may be ordered directly from or purchased at IKEA stores, can store most any item in an easy-to-access bag that is placed inside one of Bellhops' bins when loaded on a truck for shipment.

    Laura Patti, service designer for Bellhops, said a test of the bags and bins program among 20 customers in Chattanooga over the past six months showed most consumers liked the bags better than boxes since they make it easier to place and retrieve items and even children can then help pack and unpack items being shipped. Similarly, the Bellhops employees hired to do the lifting and moving said the handles on the bags and the plastic bins make moving easier, quicker and more secure.

    Consumers will still have the option of packing up their shipments in other containers.

    Kyle Miller, communications director for Bellhops, said if at least 10 percent of Bellhops customers in Atlanta opt to use the bags and bins the program will be rolled out across all of the 28 cities where Bellhops now offers its moving services.

    "Atlanta was a natural fit for the next step in moving this pilot forward," Miller said. "Our moving services have more than doubled in the Atlanta area and Atlanta is also the home of the closest IKEA in relation to our headquarters, which allows us to test in-store pickup."

    Bellhops does not currently make any money with the new bags and bins other than a marginal amount it receives through its Amazon Associates Account when bags are purchased online.

    "From its inception, this has been about developing a program that encourages use of more eco-friendly options when moving, enhancing our goal of making moving smarter and easier," Miller said. "We try to be innovative and creative in our approach and we believe we are one of the first to try to use reusable bags and bins with our moves."

    Bellhops' business has more than tripled since inception, booking over 100,000 moves in the process. The company has more than 70 employees at its Chattanooga headquarters and employs about 1,200 on-demand Bellhops for short-term moving help across the country.

    This article originally appeared on on June 21st, 2017.

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    Warehouse Row Welcomes Hemline Boutique

    Warehouse Row will welcome a new women's clothing shop, Hemline Boutique, to the South Building on Thursday, March 4th. 

    Visit the Hemline Website

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    Welcoming Goodman Coffee

    It is with great pleasure that we announce Goodman Coffee Roasters from St. Elmo will be moving into the North Building across from Cosmetic Market. Ian Goodman and Aric Annear will bring coffee and pastries back to Warehouse Row. They roast beans sourced from around the world in their St. Elmo space near the foot of Lookout Mountain. With combined experience of 35 years between the two, we couldn't be more excited to have them expanding into Warehouse Row.

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    Warehouse Row breathes new life into Chattanooga

    View the full article on page 29 of Beck Partners' Insight Magazine here.

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    3 Chattanooga Restaurants make list of Places to Eat in Tennessee Before You Die

    A website called Only in Your State has listed 11 restaurants you have to visit in Tennessee before you die, and three from Chattanooga made the list. 

    "We turned to the voice of Tennessee—yep, that’s you guys—and found a list of places that many of you couldn’t dream about leaving this earth without trying at least once," according to the article.

    The Chattanooga restaurants on the list are Public House, St. John's Restaurant and Aretha Frankenstein's.

    "Each restaurant on the list offers 'something different, something eclectic or beautiful or strange that will keep you dreaming long beyond their wonderful cheeseburgers,'" also according to the article. 

    Click here to see what the author said about each location and what other restaurants around the state made the list.

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