To most of the outside world, Nashville is still regarded as the epicenter for all things country music. Tourists flock to the city to hear live music and brave the crowds on Broadway. To Bennett Piispanen, the mastermind behind the Born in the N.A.S.H. project, Nashville is so much more than music. It’s a hot spot for that important industry, yes, but it’s also a mecca for highly talented artisans with an unmatched passion for their crafts. Nashville is home to creators of jewelry, clothing, furniture, food and many other unique items. And while the gift shops and their plethora of memorabilia commemorate Nashville’s rich history, their goods are often made in China. Bennett did not see this as a fair representation of the city. His own passion and appreciation for craftsmanship is what fueled his desire to share the Nashville he has grown to love with the world. And that’s how Born in the N.A.S.H was conceived.

An airstream turned shop with local goods - too cool

Since debuting at the Fort Houston Art Crawl in December, Born in the N.A.S.H. has remained on the move! Bennett and his four-legged pal Zoey can be found at hot spots around Nashville including The Flea Market, The Farmers’ Market and Two Boots Pizza. With the weather getting warmer, expect to see more of the Airstream around town. The best way to find it? Follow Born in the N.A.S.H. on Twitter and Instagram.

Born in the N.A.S.H. sells all things local and all things handmade

Although Bennett, who originally hails from the Cincinnati suburbs, is not a Nashville native, this is where he feels most at home. He discovered his passions and skills in Nashville while establishing his solid foundation of friends. In a city that is being reborn, everyone can be Born in the N.A.S.H. While N.A.S.H. appears to be an acronym, it is simply just a way to call Nashville home.

The website defines Born in the N.A.S.H as a “rolling retail shoppe in a 1974 Airstream trailer renovated by Nashville’s best craftsmen, offering quality handcrafted goods made in Nashville.” While this definition hits the nail on the head, it does not share the story behind the project. So how does someone get the full experience? You have to see it for yourself. Of course, it’s hard to miss the silver Airstream; I had my first spotting at the Nashville Flea Market. The sheer beauty of the shop took me aback. Light, hardwood floors, bright paint and custom shelving all come together to create an inviting space that beautifully highlights the wares. It piqued my curiosity to know more about the company, the brand and the man behind it.

The shop has so many goodies

In June 2014, Bennett purchased the Airstream, and with the help of Nick Georgiou, construction began. Since Bennett was working a 40+ hour work week, he would meet Nick, who had been working on the Airstream, all day, and they would spend their nights continuing the transformative work. The two-man team, with a few extra hands, added the door, subflooring, flooring, paneling, shelving and a fresh coat of paint. The project was not without bumps in the road, though. Between weather issues, a broken rib for Nick, and construction and design hurdles, the finished project was not complete until December, two months behind schedule.

Handcrafted goods for sale in this unique store

Bennett and the team did not skimp on the details. Unwilling to sacrifice anything, it cost a little extra time and money, but the final result was worth the wait. Small victories along the way and the large victory of completion reassured everyone involved that it was worth it.

A few days after my first Born in the N.A.S.H. experience, I linked up with Bennett at Barista Parlor X Golden Sound, to get the skinny. I learned that Bennett is a kind, friendly and energetic guy, who has gone shark diving in South Africa, loves antiques, enjoys a warm glass of tea and, ironically, was not born in Nash, at least not in the traditional sense. He was, however, raised to appreciate creative culture, so when he saw our city’s community of craftsmen, he jumped at the opportunity to support it. With a Music Business degree and an MBA, both from Belmont, and a handful of jobs under his belt, Bennett’s desire to create a business around this idea of bringing local artisans’ work to the people was a natural fit.

Everything in the shop is for sale - the shelves, the couch, the tables

Bennett has truly made the most of the limited space. Everything is for sale. You can purchase the couch that sits at the back of the Airstream, or get custom fabric to have it match your home. You can buy the tables, the display shelves and anything else you see and touch. Don’t be afraid to ask. If you see something you love, you can take it home or get one custom-made.

 Become part of the gang of Nashvillians that proudly act as champions for local artisans.

 Born in the N.A.S.H. sets itself apart by elusively offering goods that are made in Nashville.

While stores, such as Hey Rooster General Store, Acme, Batch and Beveled Edge, showcase local talent through their inventory, Born in the N.A.S.H. sets itself apart by elusively offering goods that are made in Nashville. The shop is fostering a community. Not only a community of artisans, but of their supporters. This community is extremely inviting and they want you to be part of it. Bennett encourages people to contact him and once you have, to keep in touch. Become part of the gang of Nashvillians that proudly act as champions for local artisans.

The Trunk, Moto Moda and Sisters of Nature were up and running by the time Bennett started planning Born in the N.A.S.H., so the idea of a retail shop on wheels was not new to him. After he developed a clear vision of what he wanted—an all-encompassing representation of Nashville craft makers—things started falling into place. With help from a few friends, he found the Airstream and began to bring his idea to life. After five long, grueling months of reconstruction, the updated 40-year-old Airstream took to the road.

 there is more than enough to see in this small space!

Despite the fact that the Airstream is a small space, there is more than enough to see. Take your time; you do not want to overlook anything!

We could outfit ourselves and our home with the stunning pieces

The most impressive part of the process was the team effort it required. Each of the craftsmen and artisans that pitched in brought their personal touch to the shop. Here is a sampling of the many hands that played a part in the project:

  • Luke Duncun, of Eli Mason, helped encourage the dream.
  • Clay Kotter, a woodworker, led Bennett to the Airstream.
  • Charles Miller, of First Platoon, designed the logo.
  • Nick Georgiou, of re:wind, helped reinvent the Airstream from start to finish.
  • Daniel Heering and Matt Childress, of Wild Card Design, lent their architectural and design skills to the project
  • Meredith Edmondson, a local glass blower, handcrafted the upholstery on the couch that lives at the back of the shop.
  • Josh Hinson, owner of Hitson & Co Handcrafted Wood Floors, hooked them up with the hardwood.
  • Jonathon Malphrus, of Steric Design, helped supply some of the amazing pieces of walnut featured in the shop.
  • Jacob Greer, of 6th Man Movers, offered the use of a generator and storage containers.

Stop by Born in the N.A.S.H. and meet this pup!

Whether you recognize these names or not, this list illustrates the large community that rallied to support Born in the N.A.S.H. These artisans, many of whom Bennett met through Fort Houston, came together in support of something uniquely Nashville. With their help, a platform was created on which their friends and colleagues could showcase their talent. The surge of Nashville pride in the past few years has brought a rise in locally made inventory to stores across the city. The community of local artisans has helped catapult this movement forward, and people are rallying around it. Bennett says this “gives you faith in the city and makes you appreciate it on another level.”

As he looks back on the project, Bennett reflects, “We took the pie-in-the-sky idea that we had, and we created it … such a rewarding and humbling feeling. It would not have been possible without all the people involved. Everyone is an artisan, and I have a true appreciation for them.”

The man behind it all - Bennett

Follow Born in the N.A.S.H. on Twitter and Instagram for updates on where the Airstream is heading next, and then stop by and experience the Airstream for yourself. Bennett will help you get acquainted with works by Monkey Ink Design, Golden Apothecary, Handmade Studio, Walker Jewelry, Wildcard Design, Consider the Wldflwrs and numerous other vendors he carries. The list of goods is always changing, so visit often, and tell them StyleBlueprint sent you!

Photography by Sarah Hrudka