Susannah Scott Barnes, owner of AshBlue on Bandywood Drive, is a whirling dervish of style. She exudes a certain je ne sais quoi that is also evident in the store’s collections–every corner is filled with something extraordinary. A compilation of what’s best about boutiques in Europe and New York, mixed with a touch of tribal Africa and, oh, a subtle smidgen of Southern charm, the vibe of AshBlue isn’t by accident. Susannah and her husband Zulu spend countless hours searching for objects of beauty to fill their store. And as the mother of young children, we’ve always admired the way Susannah pulls it together so seamlessly. It is with great pleasure that StyleBlueprint introduces you to Susannah Scott-Barnes.
Where were you born?
More often than not, I find that I am the only born-and-raised Nashvillian in a gathering of people. I love it. Nashville has the most welcoming vibe. Back in the 60’s when my parents moved here from Louisville, it was a lot smaller. My childhood impression was that Nashville was not as cool as other cities, and I never thought that I would end up living here. But I am very proud to say I am from Nashville.
You have a wonderful sense of personal style. Any advice you can give our readers?
I am not sure what my personal style is. Some kind of crazy combination, that is for sure. Both of my grandmothers probably influenced me and my personal style. They were close friends, and yet they had very different personalities. One was very feminine who liked to wear the latest floral pattern. The other was classic and slightly disheveled. If it’s comfortable and makes me feel good, then it’s right.
Do you have any advice for our readers on how to simplify their lives since everyone is so busy?
As far as getting help in my closet, the best experience I have ever had was working with Kathleen Goff from Tina Adams Wardrobe Consulting. What could have been intimidating was so much fun. She weeded out my outdated pieces (and gave me the liberty to put them back after she had left). Then we tried on about 150 outfits that she had pre-shopped.
AshBlue is such a fabulous store. How did you come up with the concept for AshBlue?
The concept for AshBlue started with seeing an empty retail space in our front yard when my husband and I lived at the Wellington Arms. We wanted to import high-end home accessories from Africa where he grew up. It quickly evolved into more than that and continues to evolve. Neither of us had retail experience, so we had a lot to learn. I am so grateful to all the people who supported us in those early days.
Is there an item that you have your eye on for spring, either for your home or something for you, like jewelry or clothing?
This spring I cannot stop thinking about the emerald green Pantone color of the year. This season I found a ton of great jewelry with it, in all different price ranges.
As a working mom with young children, how do you maintain balance in your life?
How do I maintain balance in my life as a working mom? I don’t need much sleep which helps. My best working hours are in the middle of the night. Accepting that I cannot be the perfect mom and work, too, helps. I do my best in all areas of my life and am happy with that.
What books are on your bedside table?
Books on my bedside table… I could lie and list a whole stack of cool and interesting books. But to be honest, I don’t read. That will be another lifetime. A friend just gave me Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods, which I am dying to read because I also thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. One of these days I will get to it. Too bad it’s not a picture book.
When it comes to eating out in Nashville, what is your favorite restaurant?
You can’t beat Bricktop’s for its service and consistency. They have the best veggie burger in town!
Do you have a special place to vacation?
My husband and I are both big travelers, but at this stage in life, we love to stay at home. We created an outdoor room in our backyard by pitching a party tent made of Indian fabric. (Randomly, AshBlue rents these out). We filled it with sofas, lamps and hang out there all summer. It feels like we are in another world.
Do you have any irrational fears?
Name 3 things you can’t live without (excluding God, friends and family).
Butter, mayonnaise, chocolate, and the list could go on.
Thanks, Susannah! And thanks to Ashley Hylbert for these beautiful photographs!
To learn more about AshBlue, just visit their site at www.ashblue.com
To see more of Ashley’s photography, visit her website: www.ashleyhylbert.com.