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We didn’t have to spend too much time in Nashville to notice the tight-knit community of artisans and creatives. While in town, we spent time with a handful of Nashville characters in their local businesses—Barista Parlor, Third Man Records, Sideshow Sign Co., Parlour and Juke, and Imogene + Willie—to get to know the people behind the burgeoning Nashville brands.
We won’t deny that we strategically planned one of our first meetings of the day at Barista Parlor. We love a good cup of coffee, and we had heard nothing but good things about Andy Mumma’s shop in East Nashville. We first stumbled upon the shop through a New York Times feature, and Imogene + Willie’s Erin McAnnaly confirmed that it would be well worth the visit.
The huge industrial space was nearly empty when we first arrived, so Andy got right to setting us up with a couple of biscuit breakfast sandwiches and waffles, accompanied by lattes and coffee.
We sampled a handful of different biscuits since arriving in Nashville but these moved right to the top of our list.
Andy jumped back and forth between taking drink orders and chatting with us at our table—he was on the move the entire time we were there, as the line at the front remained steady and more and more people filled the seats. Luckily, there’s plenty of room to move about in his shop, which was once George’s Transmission Shop. Coincidentally, Imogene + Willie was a George’s in a former life, too!
It took about 10 months from the time that Andy broke ground until the shop was fully built out. As Andy talked us through the numerous aspects of the shop, from the tables to the lighting and art on the walls, we realized that nearly everything was sourced locally, aside from the coffee. He worked with HollerDesign to build the rustic wooden tables and perfectly slanted stools, and with Southern Electric Lighting to craft the industrial suspended bulbs. Each person that he worked with was a friend from over the years.
We absolutely loved the giant work on the back wall of the shop, designed by another friend of Andy’s, Bryce McCloud of Isle of Printing. The work is composed of four thousand individually pressed letterpress squares.
Speaking of friends, another tall gentleman walked into the shop and Andy said, “you’ll probably be meeting this guy tomorrow,” and he was right. We had only exchanged emails with Emil Congdon up until that point, and would be visiting his workspace the following morning. We had correctly identified Andy’s apron as an Emil Erwin design when we arrived.
We then got to chatting about the other meetings we had lined up for the rest of the weekend, and it turned out that Andy is also friends with Luke of Sideshow Sign Co., who is in the process of building a huge outdoor marquee for Barista Parlor. He nodded in familiarity as we rattled off a few more people and places on our list—Third Man Records, Parlour and Juke and Otis James.
We knew going into our meeting that Andy is part of an interesting network people, but we wanted to know how he ended up establishing his position within the community.
He had grown up in Virginia working on a dairy farm and moved to Nashville at eighteen, drawn by the music scene. He arrived at his sister’s apartment with one duffle bag in hand, and crashed on her couch until he could get his footing. He split his time between playing in a punk rock band and working at a variety of coffee shops, saving every penny along the way, with the ultimate goal of owning his own business.
We left feeling inspired by Andy’s hard work, admiring what he had established and his humble attitude.
The bus has left Nashville, but if you’re in town, you can check out our frames in our showroom at imogene + willie!
Photos by Collin Hughes