I had no clue there was a "quad cities" in Alabama. Or that my destination Florence was 1/4 of it (the other 3 being Muscle Shoals, Sheffield and Tuscumbia.) I was flying into Muscle Shoals to visit designer Natalie Chanin. Natalie is the lovely and amazing woman behind the brand Alabama Chanin based in Florence. She brought me there as a visiting artist and to lead a small seminar in the Alabama Chanin studio focusing on expanding one's small business network and brand.
Upon landing at the tiny airport where the baggage claim was mere garage door (random side fact) I was met by June, one of many awesome Alabama Chanin employees. As we drove into Florence I was immediately drawn into the surrounding's. On the outskirts of Florence there are strip malls galore but as you move around there is a very charming downtown area and some pockets of cool old buildings. Aaron and I were talking after I got back and there IS something different about the South. I realized it's almost as foreign going there as a northerner as it is visiting Ireland as an American.
My time at the Alabama Chanin studio was fantastic. They did such a lovely post about the Thursday night open house and Friday's seminar. At my talk I shared a slideshow of current projects and people I've been working with. I has also made a handout with current inspiration. The handout included some of my favorite websites I follow, magazines I read and links to helpful business articles like Rena Tom's recent posts on Poppytalk.com & the Miss Modish Pitch Kit.
Over the weekend I was invited to stay for a Alabama Chanin workshop which was a massive treat for me. I rarely have time to sit and sew these days and it was great to connect with some of the other workshop attendee's who traveled really far to participate. I got a good start on a poncho, but still have some ways to go until I think it's complete. I should mention here if your not familiar with Natalie's company I suggest you take some time to learn more about what she is doing. Her framework for her business is really really inspiring.
Aside from spending some quality time with the Alabama Chanin
team I was
able to do some extensive exploring both on my own and with some locals. For starters I think I
found almost every thrift store in the quad cities.We had dinner and beers at the Rattlesnake Saloon, a bar built into the side of a cave. Visited "the Wall" and the highlight was the Coon Dog Cemetery where I spent hours photographing the grave markers [blogged here]. I also has the pleasure of meeting some really lovely people including artist Butch Anthony who was in town over the weekend as well.
Back alley's of downtown Florence
In Florence make sure to get a malt at Trowbridges.
This is Charlotte Ingram, owner of "The Hi-Fi House". Her father was a sign painter & lettered this wall. We met and I learned her story when I pulled over to take photos of the building.
Tom Hendrix has spent the past 30 years building a stone wall for the memory of his great-great grandmother.
Offerings on the Wall.
Butch Anthony on his porch
A very heartfelt thank you to everyone I met in Florence, you know who you are if your reading this + love to Merrliee & Andrea who drove up from Birmingham to hang out.
Full photo set of my very RANDOM photos from my quad cities exploration here.
PS: I went to Alabama almost 2 years ago and blogged about my trip here. There are some good travel tips for you good spot finders out there.