A HAHeart For Restoration - Part 1

When I think about the concept of sexiness, I can’t help but immediately think of people who are confident. And that leads me to the question of confidence. What is it? Where does it come from? How does it happen? Contrary to what *most* social media and sly marketing wants me to believe, it is not looking a certain way or capturing certain moments ever so perfectly to get a slew of validation through likes and hearts on different platforms. Confidence is connection. Connection to the world around you, connection to the people you engage with on a daily basis, and most importantly, connection to and awareness of your own heart and soul. This final piece, the connection to your own heart and soul, is where the ability to connect to the world and others who inhabit it along with you stems from. Knowing your own worth, your core values, and your beliefs in what is worthy of spending time and money on is the space where you connect. Where you find truth in yourself. That truth is what you take out into the world. And that is sexy.

I wondered if my friends felt the same way about what the concept of sexiness really entailed. I talked to a friend of mine, Gracie, who is confronted with this concept in her job as a model. Her response was reflective and thought provoking. The word that she kept bringing up was essence. It is both alluring and a bit mystical, the concept of essence. Gracie went on to explain how essence, sexiness, and beauty are all things that are deeply rooted in the contents of your heart.
“I think the word essence. Essence is not something that you wear. It is something that you are. You are a woman of essence and that is what is attractive to people. But yeah I think sexiness… beauty… is really a heart condition. I think that beauty and sexy are synonymous… these words are really just ways to describe the condition of your heart.”
I told her that I loved the word essence and I hadn’t really thought about that as a term to use when trying to unpack the concept of sexiness, I loved the idea of an essence of a being. What makes the essence of a person? And how is that then translated to sexiness?
“I would say depth. People who care and are knowledgeable. I think the worst thing to be is oblivious. I think many people are walking around just oblivious.”

 

I totally agreed with Gracie, but knew I was completely oblivious at times. At the very least, as a consumer I tend to be a bit oblivious. If I see something that looks good in an ad, I go for it. That lust for a look and the instant gratification of being able to duplicate it is always satisfying in the short term – but listening to my friends, like Gracie, who are in the industry and know the long term effects both internally – with what looks good in the ad never quite measuring up when it’s on your body in real life – and externally – the damage that is done to the environment to make these goods – made me reevaluate what I had always thought was satisfying. Gracie’s viewpoint on the traditional industry is poignant and true - it points to the desire of the enlightened consumer.
Gracie said, “Being in this industry, I have seen how usually it is just smoke in mirrors. And I think this is what has helped create some of my depth. I am able to see through it. I understand that it is just there to look good so that I want to consume it – nothing else. It’s not there to make me think, it’s not there to make me study the world around me, it’s not made to make me go deeper than I have – It’s just there to distract me.”

It is common knowledge that the fashion industry is one of the most wasteful industries in the world. There is typically so much environmental damage that goes along with the high production rates of clothing. 
Brands like Hot-As-Hell refuse to perpetuate this toxic pattern. There is a new level of awareness that is coming into this industry and brands like HAH are stepping out in boldness. Instead of looking like most brands and saying buy “more more more” the brand is being conscientious of their long term environmental impact and saying “buy less and also buy things that will last” in order to create a more positive impact on the earth. This seems counterintuitive to a company that survives on consumers buying their items. But flipping an industry's age-old ideology that has been destructive in the past shows an inner confidence – and that is sexy.
I pushed Gracie more on this topic. I asked her what creates depth and difference in an industry that urges us to go with the stream they have created for us, that benefits them and not us, our self-image, or our planet in the long run. She replied with some questions of her own.

 

 

“How do we twist this back around? How do we reclaim this territory? I think it is simply not looking like what the rest of the world looks like. Personally, in my industry I think that means creating something. Creating a new thing. I think that modeling in itself is a very small small small thing because I am not creating my own thing, I am someone else’s canvas. They are telling me what to wear, how to pose, etcetera. I can be there to be a light but I think that something that goes above that is creating something completely new, and creating it in excellence. Creating something that you can’t deny that is better than what the world has offered in the past.”
Listening to Gracie say this, I knew that the standard she set for herself was within her own faith in her walk as a Christian. That was her own boldness in a very secular industry. Her standards are set and do not waiver from a core belief system that she brings into every modeling opportunity she has, and rather than shy away when she is the odd man out, she pushes in. She refuses to reveal what most twenty-somethings do and trusts that her standards and values will win her the company and career she wants in the long run even if the short term gains seem to be “less” at the time than her peers. 

Gracie went on, “If you are basing your confidence on what you look like in one moment and don’t have some core values you are believing in, you will be tossed in every wind and wave and it is just circular, it is just a cycle and it doesn’t work. There has to be more.”
Having standards is sexy. Standards created from going against the way that has been deemed acceptable in the past, and holding yourself to what you know is true. I couldn’t help but think of how the brands and local businesses I stand behind (Hot As Hell being one of them) work tirelessly to create this in one way or another.  As far as Hot as Hell goes – it is obvious they are going there with design and production. With the right intentions, what once seemed impossible to survive on is now what is more than possible to survive on, it is what companies with this kind of consciousness thrive on. They are flipping the original idea that was full of lust, or instant gratification, on its head and going the soulful route – the route that is thoughtful and full of depth – and this is what makes particular businesses and brands stand out to me. This innovative line of thought is so entirely backwards to the traditional industry. It is novel and sexy to a society that is hungry for change. Is hungry to see things that are made differently. That are made in a way that aligns with their values. Gracie has dreams of being behind the wheel in creating, not just modeling. So that the standards she has set for herself can be better shown through her as the creator, not just the canvas.

 

“Just being an example of what that should look like. As a believer, my greatest strength is exemplifying that. Creating that thing. Whatever it is. Creating something for people to look to and then being that. A woman who has value, who has strength, who has character and shows that in every facet of her life.”  
So here’s to creators who are pushing the consumer to think. Here’s to the creators who are giving the consumers the option to use what they buy for something bigger than themselves. Giving them the option to be a part of something that will leave a lasting impact far beyond just a super-cute Instagram post.
I know that since I have been trying to buy more consciously, I have been thinking more and more about the entire process of where I am spending my time and money. I have thought about spaces in Nashville that push me as a consumer and symbolize the values I stand behind.  I kept thinking about how Gracie referred to sexiness as a heart condition. And I thought about the places and spaces I connect to most in Nashville and what they symbolized to me. What made them feel soulful, sexy. The places I love the most reflect the things that I value. I value restoration – in people, relationships, and spaces.  I value redefinition – in something that was once considered “inadequate” or “outdated”.  I value revival – of hearts and minds of people who have gotten stuck and need a new way of thinking, a fresh perspective to push them onward in their own personal evolution as a being.  So, what places around Nashville resonate with these values?

 

"A HEART FOR RESTORATION"

 

Darlin | Nashville, TN
I had the pleasure of talking with the creator of this shop, Katie. She is a first time business owner and the amount detail that has gone into every area of her shop is apparent as soon as you begin asking her about the lines she sells. She has put so much thought into which brands she decided to carry. Her gentle spirit in itself is a huge draw for me as a woman looking for an intimate shopping experience, one where you literally have to bare it all and be completely vulnerable. I asked her about the inspiration behind her choices for the store and what drives her selections in what she carries as well as why she opened the shop in the first place. 

 

“I took two years off of work to think about what I wanted to do and how I wanted to open this shop”. Katie said that after a family tragedy she gained some perspective on seizing the time and opportunities given in this life and that she had to start something. She realized that it was time to step forward and do what she had wanted to do since she was a teenager. Katie said she always looked up to the owner of a lingerie shop in her hometown and had always wanted to start her own. Before Katie opened Darlin’ there was only one lingerie shop in Nashville. Katie’s shop offers many price points and offers a wide range of sizes and styles. Her heart is also apparent in the brands she carries – she has many brands that are sustainable and recyclable as well as some that give back to causes like women’s shelters. “I try to do a tampon and pad drive at least once a month so I can take them to the shelter with donated panties as well.” Katie’s shop and social media presence make it apparent that she has a heart for restoring people to health, wholeness, and comfort in their own skin and I find that incredibly sexy. Her shop feels different, therapeutic, in a way that the traditional lingerie store has never felt for me. 

 

  
    Urban Cowboy | Nashville, TN
from the moment you step into the space, you can tell the place has been thoughtfully renovated with intention. Reclaimed painted wood throughout which was designed by a local artist, antique furniture that has been recovered, vintage pieces accent the quirky property and altogether it creates an environment of innovation and reflection for anyone who looks around. Every time I walk in I see something new that initiates my own questions on how I could restore my own older home and use recycled materials to create something new. 
The perfect meal would be the tomato sandwich and ask the bartender to make their favorite mixed drink, trust me. 

By: Taylor Brophy
Photographer: Travis Meadors
Model: Gracie Penix
Darlin Store Owner: Kathryn Mcginnis