You don't have to be from the South to know that High Cotton Living loosely translated means "life is good'' or "it's your lucky day.''
For some, it also carries the connotation of made in the USA, as with America's favorite fabric.
Both definitions are a good fit for the opening in early August of a boutique shop on Snow Avenue in Hyde Park Village that will feature lots of "Southern'' things, including cotton clothing, hand-woven baskets, "redneck'' wine glasses and wood furniture carved right here in Tampa Bay.
Co-owner Andrew Smith, his sister Victoria "Tori,'' and their parents, David and Arden, are realizing a decade-long dream in opening the shop less than a year after they committed to the space.
Andrew, a graduate of the University of Tampa and former chair of Emerge Tampa, didn't start out to be in retail but soon came to the realization that it was one of the few ways to truly be his own boss and set his own hours.
The Chamberlain High graduate started college life studying engineering at USF, but soon found it wasn't what he wanted to do.
"I think building stuff is cool but I don't want to sit in front of a computer all day,'' he says.
So he took time off from studying to work for a family friend's business and then went to work at Walgreens, where he rose to the position of assistant manager. His parents, both teachers in south Tampa (David at Coleman Middle School and Arden at Mitchell Elementary), encouraged him to re-enroll in college at UT to study business management.
After getting his bachelor's degree, he knew he was ready to strike out on his own and open his own shop.
"My dad and I had talked about it for about a decade and finally decided to go for it,'' Smith says.
PIcking A Place
Why Hyde Park Village
"The Village has some pretty solid anchor tenants in Pottery Barn
, Restoration Hardware
, plus West Elm
is about to open,'' says Smith. "Also we liked the cool mix of boutiques and we like the design of Hyde Park as an open air, walkable mall.''
They plan to invest about $500,000 over the next two years in renovations, leasing commitments and store inventory to get High Cotton Living
up and running. "That includes $200,000 in inventory alone,'' says Smith.
Inventory includes clothing from bow ties to sundresses and T-shirts, unique pieces of jewelry, cute stationery, wine stoppers made from upcycled materials, sunglasses with wood frames, plus an assortment of geegaws and doodads.
U.S. designers showcased include Collared Greens
, Volunteer Traditions
, Isabel Thomas
, Judith March
and Savannah Rae
Among locally produced goods representing finer living are cutting boards and furniture by KR Woodworking
, Baskets by Regan and artwork by Rick Reeves
In Good Company
High Cotton Living
joins a couple of other new stores on Snow Avenue in Hyde Park Village, including:
Diane Egner, a longtime journalist in the Tampa Bay region, is managing editor and publisher of 83 Degrees Media. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.
- The White Magnolia Bridal Collection -- Designers include Modern Trousseau, Tara Keely, Mikaella Bridal, Hayley Paige, Blush by Jim Hjelm, Sara Gabriel Veiling and Headpieces and Haute Bride Accessories.
- Navy Hyde Park -- Featuring women's shoes, jewelry and accessories. Owned by Lawyer Victoria Bowa, a graduate of Stetson University College of Law.
- Don Me Now: Styling and Clothing Lounge -- For those who love all things fashion.
- Dixieland Monogram -- Specializes in monogramming and personalized gifts. Anything from cups to engraved jewelry and Boatman Geller to Lilly Pulitzer and Jonathan Adler.