Ahoy, Sail Knoxville

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“We just want to share something we love with our city.” This was the quote from the founders of Sail Knoxville when I asked them what their vision was. They have such a simple and humble spirit. I think a lot of times, entrepreneurs get caught up in creating something successful that they lose this type of honest intention. Sure Sail Knoxville wants to be a great business, who doesn’t, but their true spirit is one of really sharing, serving, and enjoying their boat with people in their community. The founders of this local company made a HUMONGOUS impression on me and my gal pals and I am thrilled to tell you about it!

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I brought along my 5 social media friends, the 2 Emilies of New2Knox, the talented artist of Nancy Ann Music, the journalist Katie Bahr, and our new friend who runs ScruffyKnox, Elizabeth. We started in the Sail Knoxville International Headquarters where Amy and Captain Dan went over all the details and rules. Amy said, “Now, I am the Captain’s Mate and my job is to serve YOU. Whatever you need, let me fetch it for you. From drinks, to jackets, to wine-openers, I am your girl to call.” When someone has such a beautiful and gracious heart to serve, well you just let them. Watching her bee-bop around the boat all night with so much energy and joy was adorable. Also, as a guest, this service really does let you enter even more into the moment that the sunset invites you into.

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We made our way to the yacht club to find the incredible boat that Captain Dan had purchased while still a bachelor. The boat is called, wait for it, … The Knoxville Girl. She is a 26’ cat rigged sailboat and is the perfect ride for the intimate groups of 6 that they take out. The types of groups and possibilities are ENDLESS. From bachelorette parties, double-dates, anniversaries, even engagements, work celebrations, client experiences, reunions, etc. etc. My favorite feature of Sail Knoxville’s excursion options is to purchase a single ticket on a sunset or sunrise cruise. You will join other people, strangers, and get to bond over something special. If you are new to Knoxville, what a cool way to find community? You can also participate in one of their specialty cruises –  a “Wine and Dine” with a private chef on board, a “Massage Sail” with a professional 1 hr massage in the cabin, and even an upcoming “Solar Eclipse Sail.”

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Let me tell you what being on one of these sails is like from my experience. From a gorgeous yacht club on Loudoun Lake, you climb aboard, help raise the sail if you choose, and find a cozy spot to sit at the front of the boat. As the sun begins to set, you watch the glowing water and goodness enjoy such a great moment to breathe and be present. Amy described the effect you get from being out on the water as something she also experiences in her yoga practice – “It’s a type of mindfulness, where you quiet all the background noise in your head, and really enter into the present moment.” We were able to experience exactly that and I think everyone does when on the water – you stop thinking and tap into the moment, experiencing what it really means to be a human being (not doing).

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Aside from a moment for your soul to breathe while on the water, Sail Knoxville also creates a place of community and we experienced just that as we headed back to the marina after the sun finished its show. With the stars coming out and fireworks going off in the distance, us girls opened a bottle of wine, and asked Amy to tell us her story.

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Amy went through a tough battle with cancer and a divorce. Feeling lost, she was in counseling and was told to pick something up from her past that she loved doing. This fighter’s answer was yoga – so she took a class (despite many hesitations). That class turned into a remarkable journey of healing and she ended up becoming a licensed yoga instructor and massage therapist. Her new boyfriend at the time, Captain Dan, was actually the one who encouraged her to move forward into teaching, “You’ve been through so much and there are struggling people who need to hear your story.” These two eyed each other at church for a long time before they finally became the pair we know now. They say “The Day that Everything Changed” in their relationship was when he showed Amy his sailboat. He shared his dream with her for Sail Knoxville and she realized that being on the boat was the same release for him that yoga was for her. They began to make dreams together that day for their future and one year later were married at sunrise aboard The Knoxville Girl.

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Hearing her talk and watching my friends open their hearts while all cozied up together in the back of the sailboat was borderline MAGICAL, and definitely unforgettable! Imagining you, my Knoxville readers, out doing the same thing gives me chills because we all need community. We all need to connect with people. We all need to quiet the noise in our heads and enjoy the moment. So, get a ticket on one of Sail Knoxville’s excursions and find those needs sweetly met. Captain Dan and Amy are ready to share this experience with you and officially launch their business on August 14th. Check out their website at www.sailknoxville.com and make plans to join them aboard!

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AHOY, mateys!

P.s. all the photos were taken by Nancy Ann Wilson of @nancyannmusic – she is incredible. Check her and the other girls out on social media – @scruffyknox, @new2knox, @emfinke, and @katiebahr.

Hello, Breadshed

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A Knoxville gem that deserves more recognition, this place is literally like no other in the city. I will say though, if you have ever been to a hole in the wall deli or bakery in New York, then it will feel familiar to you. A little corner in North Knox, Breadshed will make you feel like you have stepped back in time, before businesses opened to be trendy or become rich by shortcuts, and into true authenticity.

I’m so excited to celebrate this special place and tell you about the menu items, the dedication to real ingredients, and the owner who has officially become my favorite acquaintance in Knoxville.

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First, let’s talk about the menu, served up Monday-Saturday 7am to 4pm. The breakfast and lunch items offered here appeal to both your healthy and naughty sides. They’ve got your gluten-free and vegan options AND your gluten-full warm honey pecan sticky buns. My favorite thing to get are the warm savory strudels which come in many creative flavors like turkey pesto or chorizo pear with fig. Some of the other tempting breakfast options include a fresh quiche every morning, omelets, egg sandwiches, brioche french toast, waffles, goodness gracious bacon and egg stuffed donuts, and the owner’s famous banana nut bread.

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For lunch, you can get a delicious homemade soup like Potato-Leek or Kickin Maple Chicken Noodle. You can also get a huge variety of sandwiches and salads. I saw the Reuben being made here with melt in your mouth corn beef, Swiss, dill sauerkraut, poppy seed and papaya dressing all toasted on Swedish limpa rye bread. Damn.

Last, but certainly not least, are the pastries – orange spice tea cakes, classic brownies, cannolis, scones, and every type of bread you could want. Creative twists are taken with traditional pastries like cardamom-cinnamon roll bread pudding with rum glaze or the jalapeno cheddar bread pictured below. The recipe for one of the most popular items originates from Basque, Spain and is filled with a special rum pastry cream that melts in your mouth. This delectable Basque tea cake even brought one Spanish customer to tears. I could keep going tell you more about the items, but I’ve already made us too hungry. I will just finish by saying that the menu at Breadshed really does offer the perfect combination of classic recipes and creative flair!

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Now, when you go and taste something from this kitchen, you will quickly notice that something is different. Something is very, very different about the way this place does food. The owner/chef does clean, honest food, so fresh, so good, and doesn’t cut any corners in the purchasing or preparing. Everything is sourced locally as the owner described to me, “I don’t do organic – there’s so few inspectors to really check that people are doing it correctly. I do local – because I have relationships with the farmers. We break bread together. We hang out together. I know each one, what they use, how they do it, the ones who are growing stuff all year round, the hard core ones who don’t and lose half their crop, and the one’s who sit there with soap and run it over all of their leaves with their kids helping. To me that’s where I can get my stuff from and be confident in the quality.” With those fresh ingredients, the owner of course wakes up at the crack of dawn to prep in her open kitchen where she is the true artisan, preparing everything by hand, straight from scratch, and in responsibly small batches. You can see why so many people who are gluten-sensitive can eat her normal bread – because things are simply done differently at Breadshed. It’s this dedication to real ingredients and honest preparation that makes all the difference and is why I am obsessed with this place.

Let me finally introduce you to the person behind these wonders, Kymberle Kaser. Oh gosh, this talented sister embodies the “You can do it” woman and instantly makes you feel at ease with her contagious laugh. The story of her and Breadshed began when her dad said should open a bakery to sell her banana bread and she laughed. Overtime, though among many other jobs and wild pursuits like being a master bungee jumper or working as a coffee roaster in Haiti for a year, a bakery of her own actually materialized. Kymberle and her dad opened Sweet Delights in Walland, TN and had a huge following – she was often on live at 5 at 4 when it really was at 5. Then, when she found out her Dad had cancer, they closed and she actually went into healthcare to help. About 5 years ago, Kymberle got back into doing the Farmer’s Market which she says is her true love. Then, she found this spot in North Knox. The risk-taker had just enough money to get everything started, with just $200 to her name after. “Well, it had to happen. It wasn’t an option. I am literally what mom and pops are. So many people want to have their own business, but think they have to investors or partners or a husband or man to help, but this was my way of showing that if you have a really good product, you can do it. Yeah it was scary as shit, but what’s the worse that can happen – you fail? Well, you failed by not doing it.” Her boldness and audacity paid off because here she is 2 years later, going strong!

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I wish I could package Kymberle up in words and make you feel like you know her because honestly she could run a comedy show or an advice stand like in Charlie Brown. I guarantee, you would still give her your money. Just saying, my favorite quote from our chat should be put on a t-shirt, “I don’t sugar-coat shit, just my pastries!” She is real, unfiltered goodness and by golly refreshing. A place like Breadshed is special and unique because of the high quality food and the honest ingredients, but also because of the person behind it. Without her probably noticing, this hilarious lady makes you feel like you are getting breakfast from someone who is your friend. Aaaaand she is a friend who is crazy enough for you to be up at 4 in the morning making fresh bread so that you can remember how good, real flour, fresh eggs, and the right ratio, can make you feel.

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Simple as that, go to Breadshed and partake in just that, a real home-cooked, straight from scratch meal that will remind you how good food really can be. If you aren’t a Knoxville local, go find a mom and pop shop like her’s in your city and support the people like Kymberle who dedicate themselves to real ingredients and honest cooking.

Thanks for listening, friends!

Hello, Game Day Darling

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When someone asks me what is one of Knoxville’s greatest prides, I say hands-down the UT Vols. Now, I am not even that big of a sports gal, but I LOVE this team and all of the orange shenanigans that go with it. If you have ever been to Neyland Stadium on a game day, then you know what I mean when I say it is simply an experience. The pride, spirit, and love of football in our city is infectious (I even caught the bug, lol). These special game days for guys are all about friends, tailgating, beer, stats, hoo-rahs, and chest bumps. For the ladies … well, it’s all about that too. We want a beer too and we go crazy over touchdowns or bad calls, but there is one extra factor that we have to contemplate every game morning – the inevitable clothing decision.

What the heck should I wear? I could dress up and be adorable, yet totally uncomfortable. I could wear the famous orange and white checkered overalls (that thought has never been followed by an action). I could wear an old ratty Tennessee t-shirt which might look cute at first but when my hair falls flat and ends up in a top-bun with sweat …. I start to feel like a wet dog. I could wear a white shirt and orange scarf, eh. That’s where I end up every game day, having to make this decision with no good answers.

UNTIL NOW.

I am beyond excited to feature a local business dedicated to the UT Vols and to overcoming this difficult dilemma for ladies in Knoxville. There are two special moms whose orange fever runs even deeper than mine and have started an adorable clothing line called Game Day Darling, decked out in orange and white and clever sayings. The clothing line provides the perfect solution – soft, feminine, and loose t-shirts and tanks. In a variety of colors and styles, they all feature catchy sayings that make you feel like you are wearing something special. My favorite shirt is one that says “Bringin’ back the ’98 vibes,” a tribute to when we won the National Championship. My other favorite is a white maternity top that says, “Teeny tiny tailgater,” right where a momma’s bump would be. How cute is that? One of the owners, Meredith said a favorite product of her’s is a gray top that says, “Beer yourself. I’m watching the game.” She loved writing that line because it is breaking stereotype molds and is how she feels every time the Vols are on the field. “I want a beer and I want to watch the game too!” I love her spunk, which brings me to my next point. 🙂

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The bold and fresh clothing line has two amazing owners behind it. Their hearts are full of orange fever, all kinds of spunk, and a passion to help girls feel amazing about themselves. Meredith and Kylie started the company this year from an interesting spot. They had been best friends for years and were both stepping into motherhood as stay-at-home moms. Out of the desire to still earn some money, they birthed this idea pretty effortlessly and just went for it (I admire them so much because it takes me about 10 years to try an idea). I got to sit down with the lovely Meredith for coffee (shown below) to learn more about why they started and she explained, “It was a problem we were having and thought maybe other moms and girls are having the same issue. Maybe we could come up with the answer.” A business plan, designs, lots of learning, and now not even a year later they have their shirts being sold online through etsy and in boutiques like Chasing Willows! Their momentum and confidence to follow their idea even with babies at home and crazy-busy lives is so inspiring and a reason why I really wanted to celebrate them here (I hope that if I get to be a stay-at-home-mom one day, that I have half the amount of audacity they do!).

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Their vision for their shirts is to look and feel fabulous, restoring comfort and confidence. Meredith shared, “We want you to feel comfortable because game days can be long and when you look in the mirror, we want you to feel confident in yourself, to not even need to ask a friend how do I look?” I think that vision is so powerful and one that can be interpreted in so many ways. Maybe for one, it is: break the mold – you can be a girl who loves football. Maybe for another, it is: you can find something cute for your body after a baby because you are beautiful. Maybe for another, it is: you can stand out in a crowd. For me, as I wore this fun tank around Neyland Stadium for the Ohio State game, it was: you can be you – comfortable, yet still adorable in your own way.

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So, I’m so glad I got to celebrate this new Knoxville business here and as you can tell I just love Game Day Darling  – their vision and their awesome clothes – and how these ladies are letting the creativity and passion that’s inside of them come out and be shared with us fellow female Volunteers. When I put on my game day shirt, it makes me smile and I love to think of how it made Meredith, my friend, smile first when she thought of it.

Friends, thanks for listening and I hope if you are a Volunteer that you head over to their shop to buy yourself something. And everyone, I hope ya’ll have a lovely start to your fall season and find a way to share the joy and creativity inside of you with someone else.

Go Vols!

*Etsy Shop: https://www.etsy.com/people/gamedaydarling

Hello, Bula Boutique

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When I think of Knoxville businesses, I imagine the heart, tenacity, and passion behind every entrepreneur’s entrance onto the scene. My favorite representation of this type of bold move is a unique and charming fashion venture called Bula Boutique. I really believe in the power and passion behind this store and that nowhere else will you sense a rhythmic expression of individuality. So, it was easy to pick this gem as my first Knoxville business to feature.

Bula, Bula, Bula! The small boutique is a force to be reckoned with that you feel as you enter the tapestry-filled entrance and sense your heart flip at the sight of lace, shimmer, fur, and bold patterns. With a small collection of affordable unique garments, you know that each piece can have your attention. The word that came quickly to the owners’ minds to describe their boutique is eclectic. And wonderfully eclectic, it is! 🙂 There are ALL kinds of styles and various types of awesomeness that you can walk away with.

Every experience for me here has included finding 3 types of pieces. I always find one piece that I think my wardrobe could really use (like a tan maxi skirt that hugs my booty oh so perfectly). Then, I find one piece that I think is SO not me, accompanied with some giggles, BUT the fact that someone else will have the confidence to wear it inspires me to push my limits (like a shiny, tight, and teal pencil skirt). Finally, I find one special piece that I can’t move past and somehow my heart becomes invested in the buying decision. Yeeep, it’s this one that I feel as though I have to buy it because it speaks to me personally (like an adorable jean overall cutoff dress). I know that you could come in and find your own 3 pieces that do the same for you!

Bula Boutique’s owners are two young friends who were inspired to open the place when working at a salon together. Both had experience in retail and both were obsessed with fashion. Their spot on the 100 block was the perfect find and they have been open for a year and 8 months. I so regret not having a picture of Julia and Brandon because I think they are really special people. Just imagine two epic people with style oozing out of them and fun personalities that quickly charm you. They are pretty impressive to me, how young yet courageous they have been to open their own business with only a little help from friends. I loved what Brandon told me about owning a business when he said, “It’s like a relationship with all the ups and downs – butterflies when everything feels new, times of heartbreak, things you have to learn with growing pains, but at the end of the day I love it and I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

There are a lot of epic things that the charming duo get to do as they navigate the process of owning a business. They are constantly buying a limited collection for the store, one where they follow the fun rule of – would they personally wear it? Another important task is to trend-watch like crazy, keeping up with ahead of the curve trends and watching them trickle down into affordable pieces for their inventory. They do so much – styling people in their store, photo and video shoots, marketing boosts, traveling, runway shows, collaborating, and engage with random people like me. 🙂 

Also, Brandon and Jules create one of the coolest and personable customer experiences on a daily basis. Literally, they told me, “We definitely want our customers to feel like they can come here and we’re friends. Talk about anything. Come hang out on our couch. Take everything off the rack, try it on, and just have fun playing dress up. We want everybody to feel good about what they are wearing. There is no pressure.”  I have felt that type of welcome every time as a customer and who doesn’t love the opportunity to play dress up?

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The last thing I want to celebrate about Bula is the heart behind their collection. Pieces are picked so intentionally. A flowing floral maxi-dress, a pair of teal matte sunglasses, a lacey light blue bralette, a floral crown, or an open-back jumpsuit – there is one prerequisite to Bula’s eclectic garments, confidence. “A lot of our pieces are ones you wear to set a scene in,” Brandon said. And ya know, let’s just say you have a day when you aren’t ready to kick butt, I think putting on one of Bula’s bold pieces will give you renewed strength to be your beautiful self. That is what is so cool about fashion – it has the power to affect how you feel about yourself and your day. Brandon and Jules said it perfectly, “We want you to be inspired here, to be a rock-star, to take chances, be open to new things, and to really live your life in our clothes.” This heart for people to do life confidently in their clothes is beautiful and unmatched. So, whatever your life looks like, whether its studying as a student, kicking butt as a mom, celebrating life with friends, you can venture into Bula Boutique and leave not only with a new piece of trend-setting clothing, but also an empowered sense of self!

There you have it, friends. I really love Bula’s contribution to Knoxville. Thank you for taking a moment with me to celebrate this special spot and unique expression of our city. I hope you find yourself in there soon!

Until next time 🙂