Caitlin Horton is making the business of art more comfortable, as comfortable as sipping tea on your front porch. She is the co-founder and creative director of Front Porch Art, LLC, an innovative business that supports Southern artists. Just as Southerners are known for gathering on their front porches to relax and tell stories, Caitlin tells the stories and builds a dialogue about the artists she represents. But today, StyleBlueprint is interested in hearing Caitlin’s story. Welcome one of this city’s newest entrepreneurs and our StyleBlueprint Face of Memphis, Caitlin Horton!
Have you always called Memphis home?
I was born and raised in Greenville, Mississippi. Then it was off to college and graduate school at Ole Miss, where I met my husband. We moved here a couple years ago for his job at FedEx and we are really, really enjoying calling Memphis home.
Describe the turning points on your path towards starting Front Porch Art.
While at Ole Miss I worked as a sports marketing intern with Ole Miss Athletics and loved it, not realizing it would affect my career choices! When we came to Memphis I started out in B2B marketing and then handled marketing and advertising for a gift shop. Now I get to use my passion and skills to promote artists and make art accessible to everyone.
What sparked the idea for Front Porch Art?
While working with a local artist on a bio card handout I realized how difficult the marketing side of everything can be for many artists. My husband Kennedy and I created Front Porch Art to meet artists’ needs for an effective online presence and a hassle-free way to get their artwork into fans’ homes. We also wanted to serve laid-back art enthusiasts like us. We enjoy art and collect pieces when we travel. Each piece has a story for us, and a couple of times we’ve even had the opportunity to hang out with the artist in their studio. We wanted to create that kind of amazing one-on-one experience for everyone.
How do you balance your work, outside interests and family?
Thankfully, a lot of what I’m interested in is entrepreneurship, so whenever I sit down to read (I love reading!) or watch TV (shows like Shark Tank), it serves two purposes. [Shark Tank is ABC’s business-themed reality show featuring investors who seek the best businesses and products that America has to offer.] The fact that Kennedy and I run Front Porch Art as a team really helps with balance, because whenever we do an event or anything like that, we’re still hanging out together.
Tell us about the event series you recently launched downtown, “Art for Squares.”
We debuted the Art for Squares line during the July Trolley Night at Klein Fitness on South Main. It’s one-size, one-price and one-theme art by multiple artists. For this first series, five artists created 5” x 5” pieces that sold for $50 and 10” x 10” pieces that sold for $100, with a “Summer in the South” theme. This line makes buying art for your home super easy and fun. You can mix and match between artists and easily create cool groupings because of the simple sizing and pricing.
What do you enjoy most about living in Memphis?
I love living in Memphis. For one, there are so many great places to eat and free activities like the Levitt Shell concert series. I think the culture here of supporting small business and the arts inspired us to launch Front Porch Art. Memphis is the perfect city to grow our business.
What are your favorite places to eat out in Memphis?
We have a few places we love so much that it’s really hard to try new restaurants! Our favorite place, hands down, is Trolley Stop, followed by Las Delicias and Three Angels Diner. We recently went to a new place, Havana’s Pilon, and really enjoyed it. We like a place with quality food and a laid-back atmosphere. Suggestions always welcome!
What new wardrobe item are you most excited about for fall 2013?
I finally got a pair of Nisolo shoes (which she is wearing in today’s photos!) for summer and hope to get another pair for the fall! They’re a Nashville company started by a fellow graduate of the Croft Institute for International Studies at Ole Miss. They work to empower these amazing shoemakers in Peru who have passed their craft down through generations to support their families. The products are unique, extremely well made and support a really meaningful cause—addressing poverty in a sustainable way by providing tools and opportunity for job creation.
Do you have one beauty product you can’t imagine not using?
Yes, lotion from Maggie’s Pharm on Overton Square that I love! You can mix your own custom scent there or go with unscented, both great option that are hard to find.
How do you unwind or recharge your battery after keeping the long hours of an entrepreneur?
I hang out with my husband Kennedy mostly. Sometimes we’ll just sit out on the deck and read! I also like going to the zoo or taking a bike ride through Midtown neighborhoods.
What books are you reading, or have you most enjoyed reading lately? Do you prefer a Kindle or e-book, or just good old-fashioned paper?
I picked a career based on what I love learning about in my free time—marketing and entrepreneurship. So I mostly read business books. I have a Kindle for conveniently holding many titles at once, but I still love the feel of a good, old-fashioned book. The Memphis library system is excellent because they have a lot e-books to check out. I’ve never actually bought a book for my Kindle.
Do you have a favorite escape or guilty pleasure?
I eat a lot of Muddy’s cupcakes (Grasshopper and Capote, to be exact). I love the atmosphere, and it always makes me happy to go there. Not only are the cupcakes amazing, but I’m also really inspired by the business.
Tell us about your most memorable vacation.
Our most recent vacation was to Haiti. Our favorite part was exploring the culture and the arts in Jacmel, a city down south. Riding buses and walking around town we met a lot of great people—we got a small glimpse into how hard-working and optimistic the people are. Art is really valued there and you see artistic influence everywhere. We’re hoping to go back soon.
Do you have a playlist of favorite music for a dinner party or a workout that you can recommend?
I should make a workout playlist, then maybe I’d work out more! Lately when people are over we’ve been playing Red Baraat CDs we got when they came to the Levitt Shell recently. Kennedy’s been a fan of their dhol player/leader, Sunny Jain, for years. It’s fun to share a different kind of music with people. I love when people introduce me to new bands.
What three lighthearted things could you not live without?
1. Cumin—it’s the best spice and necessary for almost everything I cook
2. Pandora radio
3. Hot coffee every morning from one of our large handmade mugs; it’s the little things.
Are there any special events or happenings you’re especially looking forward to in the next few months?
We’ve partnered with Advance Memphis to support their Art for Jobs fundraiser on September 19. This will be a great opportunity to find awesome art and support a really effective organization doing great work in Memphis. It’s really an honor for us to be a part of their event!
Thank you Caitlin!
Learn more about the many Southern artists represented by Front Porch Art here: www.frontporchart.com
Also, read more about this new business in StyleBlueprint’s recent article: Front Porch Art: Kickstarting a New Business.
A big thank you to Whitney McNeill for her wonderful photos AND bravery while taking pictures in the middle of a busy Memphis intersection at the S. McLean overpass!