After graduating from the University of Iowa Center of the Book I moved away from my temporary home in Iowa City to my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. Upon arrival I began to set up shop and get my business up and running. After a few months of painting, building shelves and binding inventory, I challenged myself to finally get out of the studio and begin to rediscover this warm, welcoming city.
In many ways I felt like a tourist in my own hometown as I visited my old haunts. Restaurants and businesses had either moved or closed with others newly open. High-rise condos had sprung up from the ruins of the abandoned industrial districts like daisies after a wildfire. Within the short span of three years I found that certain parts of the city, especially downtown, had changed drastically. Despite all of these developments in new infrastructure and the massive influx of people from other states and countries I was comforted to find that the people and the atmosphere hadn't changed at all.
Nashville has a national and global reputation for being one of the friendliest cities. As a life-long native, I can attest that this friendliness isn’t for show— it’s a very natural way of life for us. Nashvillians are known for being kind, generous, outgoing, and polite. We make eye contact and smile at each other when we pass on sidewalks. We hold open doors for everyone. We're connectors, helpers, selfless, and genuine. Nashville is a city of neighbors.
For that reason Nashville is a wonderful place for creatives and entrepreneurs like myself to make a living by starting new businesses. Local communities support their small businesses and the arts community is devoid of the competitive, cutthroat, divisive nature that other cities experience. Instead, artists collaborate across genres and media and businesses cross-pollinate and promote one another. "Competitors" and complete strangers become each other's supportive networks.
One such stranger, now friend and collaborator, Corey Webb of The Nashville Experience Podcast and nashvilleexperience.com stumbled across my business earlier this year during a Twitter campaign. After discovering that hand-bookbinding was still in practice and then learning that I was a Nashville native with a privately owned bindery, he asked to interview me for his podcast. The rest, as they say, is history.
Check out the podcast episode we recorded earlier this year and be sure to subscribe to his podcast (The Nashville Experience) on iTunes and visit his website for recommendations on where to eat and what to see if you're in town for a few days or if you're like me and would love to learn more about your hometown. Listen to the other episodes on the podcast and discover some of the other wonderful artists, business owners, and personalities that epitomize the people, the culture, and way of life that make Nashville a truly unique experience.