Teresa Ofman has one of those warm ways of speaking that makes you feel like you’ve known her your whole life. With a knack for style and an ease for small talk, it’s no wonder that her store LuLu on Main Street in Franklin evolved into a landmark for locals and visitors alike. In May of 2015, Teresa got news that a car had crashed through her storefront. Forced with the heart-wrenching decision to rebuild or close shop, she was presented with a stroke of good fortune, an opportunity to work with the design team at Peacock Alley. Teresa’s story of hardship, perseverance and success is testament to the abundance of beauty in life, if only we are patient and willing to see it to fruition.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Nashville and attended college at Tennessee Tech in Cookville, TN. I now live in Franklin with my family and couldn’t have picked a better place.
How did you come to be involved with retail and when did you realize you had a passion for home decor?
I began collecting and selling antiques when I was younger. I’ve always loved Tennessee antiques — they have a beautiful quality to them. I would go to auctions in the countryside in search of unusual items and then sell them from booths at antique markets in Franklin. I had a passion for decor so I decided to team up with my friend Teresa Powers (the owner of the fantastic Shop Around the Corner in Franklin). We opened a shop within the Franklin Marketplace that was devoted to helping girls decorate their dorm rooms with stylish bedding and accessories. It was definitely a girlish store!
When did you open LuLu?
The shop at Franklin Marketplace was certainly successful and fun, but Teresa and I each longed to create something that illustrated our individual styles. That was when I decided to open LuLu in 2009. I had discovered a building on Main Street in Franklin with a sign on its door saying that it was closing after 25 years. I couldn’t stand the idea of such a beautiful, historic building not being in use. So I decided it would serve has the perfect home for LuLu.
Can you tell us a bit about LuLu and why it was such a popular destination?
We specialized in home decor and luxury bedding. We had a really tasteful collection of things, but more importantly I think the store became a sort of meeting place for people — ladies out to lunch, bridal parties and locals who loved to pop-in on a regular basis.
In May of last year you received terrible news that a car had crashed through your storefront. Can you tell us about the accident and how you responded?
I had gotten a call at 1:30 a.m. in the morning from the Franklin Police that a car had crashed through the front window of the store. Fortunately, no one was seriously hurt, but the store looked like it had undergone a bombing. By the time the building would have been able to be restored and I could reopen, my lease would only have two months left. Rather than rebuild my business from the ground-up, I decided I would perhaps embark on something else.
How did you recover from that?
It was difficult to lose that place but life always presents new opportunities just when you think all is lost. Right after the incident, as I was phoning all my old acquaintances to inform them about what had happened, I got a call from Mary Ella Bitzer, the owner of Peacock Alley. I had been selling Peacock Alley luxury bedding at LuLu for a few years and had always loved the quality of their products. She told me that Peacock Alley was opening a store in Nashville and after learning what had happened, one thing led to another and I was invited to be a part of their design team.
What has the transition from owning your own store to working with an established brand been like?
There are certainly great things about owning your own business, but honestly, at times, especially when life throws you a curve ball, it’s really nice to have a whole company behind you. It’s a great environment to collaborate, and more importantly, it’s family-owned and operated, which means it feels a lot like the family of merchants I came to love on Main Street.
What advice do you have to impart to our readers?
I read a quote recently and I can’t recite it verbatim, but the gist of it was that often the worst of times turn into the best. I think that’s applicable to my situation. Just when you think you’ve lost it all, you find something new to get excited about.
So what excites you about where you are now?
Nashville has such great things going on, so many great shops and restaurants popping up, and I’m happy to be a part of a company that keeps those standards high. I think Peacock Alley has some of the finest luxury bedding around and not only that, it’s also a really innovative and energetic place to work. We are scheming up ways to make the Berry Hill area a “design district.” Much like the Fifth Avenue of the Arts, it would be an area of town devoted to the curation of design, music and art. My hope would be to make the Nashville Design District a lot like Franklin, where visitors can walk around and explore great artisanal venues.
What are your favorite things to do in Nashville on a sunny weekend?
I love to shop in Green Hills, and I enjoy exploring new restaurants. Josephine and 5th & Taylor are some of my favorites lately, but I am excited to try Le Sel! If I stay in Franklin, I love to entertain friends. I’m a bit of a homebody, so if I can get all my friends to come over, eat and relax on the porch, it’s a great evening in my book!
How do you relax and unwind?
Sitting on my porch with a cup of coffee in the morning is how I love to get my day started. It totally rejuvenates me. I also love spending time with friends and family.
Name three things you can’t live without excluding faith, family and friends.
- My home … my sanctuary
- A warm cup of coffee with my hubby to start my day
- A really great glass of red wine to end the day