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Sweet Home Atlanta

JEZEBEL chats with Hollywood darling and Draper James founder Reese Witherspoon about her new Buckhead boutique, filming in ATL and more.

The A-list actress and producer arrived for opening night festivities wearing a limited-edition Draper James dress, $325, created for the occasion. 

 

Welcome to Atlanta, Reese! Tell us: Why did you choose our city for Draper James’ fourth location?
I’ve done a lot of movies here—starting with Sweet Home Alabama in 2003. So I just fell in love with it then, and then I came back probably six or seven years later, and everything had changed. Now, it’s just an incredible foodie experience; there’s so many live events, so many sports teams, so many things you can do on the weekend... but it’s still rooted in the Southern tradition as well.

What is it about the Southern lifestyle that resonates with you?
I grew up in Nashville, Tenn., and was born originally in New Orleans, so I never knew anything but the South, where people had their doors open—no one locked their door!—everybody had a dog, but it belonged to the whole neighborhood, and people would just welcome you in. ... So I just wanted to bring a little bit of that Southern charm to a retail business so I could tell the stories of my grandparents and the way that I grew up.

When you started the business, did you ever imagine it would take off like it has?
The growth of the company has been incredible, mainly through the support of incredible customers who just keep coming back. They love the Southern sayings; they love the optimism of the brand; they love colorful, bright and happy. It’s a celebration of being a Southern woman, which is kind of something that hasn’t been talked about in retail, I think. And Southern women are very interested in fashion, and in reading Elle and Vogue and [Harper’s] Bazaar, but they are not necessarily seeing themselves in the pages. So I was trying to put them in the center of the story.

Located in the Shops Around Lenox, Draper James’ new Atlanta boutique was designed by Mark D. Sikes, who also decorated Witherspoon’s home in Nashville, Tenn. 

In cities like Nashville (and Atlanta soon enough), your warm, inviting store has become an iconic—and Insta-famous—stop for visitors and locals alike. How do you generate that kind of buzz?
I started getting on social media right before the brand launched—probably a year before the brand launched—and just started noticing how important that is for the customer experience. They want to have a memory and an experience, and enjoy the sweet tea, and hang out. … We try to have a full 360-experience for people when they come in.

As a producer, would you ever consider making a movie here in Atlanta? I mean, it is Y’allywood…
Y’allywood—someone stitch that on a pillow! Yes, of course. I’m excited because I do think there’s so much production here in Atlanta. And I’m excited for my friends who are coming from L.A. to be able to go to the store.

Draper James may become the new celebrity hot spot.
That’s right! You never know who you might run into.