Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James collection has Southern charm
The rugged Danner hiking boots with red laces that Reese Witherspoon donned in the film “Wild,” displayed in a Lucite box in one corner of her Beverly Hills office, would never make the cut for the actress’ latest endeavor: a genteel line of Southern-inspired women’s apparel, accessories and home accents.
The line, called Draper James, was introduced in May at Draperjames.com, selling out many dress styles almost immediately. In early October, the company announced it had raised $10 million in venture capital for expansion, and later this month, a flagship bricks-and-mortar store is to open in Nashville, where Witherspoon grew up and owns a home.
No wonder Witherspoon is all smiles as she rushes into the office on teetering blue suede Manolo Blahnik pumps, a few minutes late for an interview and unaware that one leg is streaked with dirt from the car door. She carries Saint Laurent’s navy Sac De Jour handbag in one arm and in the other a Draper James carryall emblazoned with the phrase “Totes Y’all” that has sold out three times. Also in tow is the 39-year-old’s lookalike 16-year-old daughter Ava, who helps with the company’s social media postings and schleps another tote and garment bag, filled with new Draper James designs.
Items printed with cheeky Southern expressions are among the top sellers.
“People really enjoy humor, that we don’t take ourselves too seriously,” says Witherspoon. “Southern people are literally always joking around and teasing each other. It’s part of our culture.”
The actress-entrepreneur oohs and aahs as she unpacks a stack of jewel-toned sweaters, some embellished with pearls. Flipping through a rack of feminine dresses and Chanel-like tweed skirts and jackets, she remarks that her favorite floral fit-and-flare dress is missing, because she gave it to Taylor Swift when she attended the singer’s L.A. concert a couple days earlier.
Reese Witherspoon Talks About Her Southern Lifestyle Site Draper James
Reese Witherspoon may dazzle the general populace–People Magazine recently named her the Best Dressed Person of 2015–but venture investors weren’t star-struck when the actress first pitched them on her idea for Southern-lifestyle startup Draper James.
In fact, Forerunner Ventures founder Kirsten Green–an investor in Bonobos Inc., Birchbox Inc. and Dollar Shave Club Inc.–said she initially put Ms. Witherspoon’s celebrity status in the “con category.”
“Founding a company is the hardest thing you can possibly do. It takes an enormous amount of sheer will, and with celebrities who have so many things they could spend their time doing, you question whether you can count on them being there,” Ms. Green said.
After a series of meetings with the star of “Walk the Line” and the “Legally Blonde” movies and questioning a handful of Hollywood executives who knew her well, Ms. Green said she was convinced Ms. Witherspoon would be deeply involved for the duration. Ms. Green quickly decided to lead a $10 million round to bankroll the startup’s expansion.
The infusion comes a few months after Draper James launched its e-commerce site and marks the latest in a series of celebrity led consumer Internet startups to capture venture cash and confidence.
The Wall Street Journal spoke with the actress-turned-startup founder about her responsibilities as creative director and what it means to dress Southern. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What prompted you to launch Draper James?
About three years ago when I was traveling between Atlanta and Nashville, I started noticing how much was happening culturally in the South with museums, music venues and restaurants. At that same time I was approached by two Northeast brands to represent them. I don’t know the Hamptons, but I do know the South and I realized there was a white space to tell that story.
October 9, 2015 • Category: Charity, Draper James •
Comments Off on Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James partnering with local nonprofit
Reese Witherspoon’s Draper James partnering with local nonprofit
Reese Witherspoon’s new lifestyle company, Draper James, is partnering with YWCA of Nashville & Middle Tennessee’s Girls Inc. program to bring economic literacy to at-risk Nashville girls, according to a news release.
The partnership will kick off Oct. 27 with a free conference — Girls Just Wanna Have Funds — for teenage girls and their mothers/mentors. Witherspoon will appear at the event, as well as Mayor Megan Barry and recording artist CeCe Winans.
As part of the partnership, Draper James will offer an internship program at its Nashville store on 12th Avenue South.
“As the largest provider of domestic violence services in Tennessee, we see too often how financial dependence and insecurity can trap women, preventing them from being safe and reaching their full potential,” YWCA CEO Patricia Glaser Shea said in the news release. “Teaching and reaching girls at an early age that they are responsible for their own finances is the best form of prevention. Financial independence will allow our girls to follow their dreams and become the best she can be.”
Space for the conference is limited, and priority is given for girls enrolled in the Girls Inc. program. More information can be found here.
September 10, 2015 • Category: Draper James •
Comments Off on Reese Witherspoon to open 12South store
Reese Witherspoon to open 12South store
It’s official: Actress turned entrepreneur Reese Witherspoon is opening the first brick-and-mortar store for her new lifestyle brand Draper James in Nashville’s 12South neighborhood.
The store will be located on the first floor of the under construction Becker’s Corner development on 12th Avenue South between Summer Classics and 12 South Dental Studio, the building’s developers confirmed Thursday.
The Nashville location will be the first Draper James store in the country, which launched online in May.
Witherspoon’s brand is meant to honor her grandparents, Dorothea Draper and William James Witherspoon, and also to put the spotlight on Southern style. It pays homage to her Music City upbringing with products such as the “Vanderbilt tote,” the “Nashville shirt” and the “Belle Meade dress.”
“I created Draper James to honor my past and allow others to embrace the beauty, style and excitement that embodies what is happening in the South today,” Witherspoon said in a statement in May.
According to the Draper James website, the Nashville store is aiming for a fall opening.
The Becker’s Corner development includes 4,500 square feet of retail space and four apartments. The developer is The Shop Trust, a partnership between Andy Howell of C.A. Howell and Company and his brothers.
Just last month, Reese and the Draper James team took a field trip down to Blue Ridge to meet the talented craftspeople who make each and every pair of our jeans. We watched the workers cut, stitch, and sew (42 steps in all!) and left incredibly impressed by their artistry and dedication. We are proud that these workers are continuing the rich history of Southern denim making and even prouder to say that they are making jeans for Draper James!
Scans from Reese’s recent cover for In Style US have now been added to our Gallery. In the magazine she discusses her Southern roots, fame, female influences and role models, Draper James, and her recent film roles.
Luckiest Girl Alive
Tiny Beautiful Things
Barbie origins project
In A Dark, Dark Wood
Untitled Rob Long Project
The Thing About Jellyfish
All Is Not Forgotten
Three Little Words
Pale Blue Dot
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