Makers, designers, and artists are the heart and soul of every city. It is from these visionaries and creatives that a place becomes a living, breathing thing full of passion, expression, and connection. Bradley Odom, the sensation behind the beautifully curated Dixon Rye, is an admirable precedent for this — breathing life into Atlanta and setting the new standard for retail. He has reimagined his deep Southern heritage with undying support for local artists and a strong eye for the old and new. Humble, hungry, and unafraid to speak his truth. His artistic energy is something that every city could use some more of.
The New Southern was created to champion creative pioneers that have a hand in paving the way for a new generation. It’s a community of creators that are fearless in business and tap into the present moment in such a way that they are able to live their best lives. Bradley is intentional not only in curating moments for his store but also in the way in which he lives his life. He fills his space with expertly-curated pieces of art, accessories, fine antiques and interesting vintage finds while his world has been built on values of closeness, positivity, and breaking boundaries. It is this deeply personal attention to detail in out and out of his work that is a true testament to his art. One which deeply inspires me and reminds me of the richness that can be found in connecting to your craft.
Some things in the South are constant but some things in the South are new. Bradley has taken what’s beloved, inherent, and honored in Southern culture and design and given it his own fresh twist. Remembering the power of a handwritten note, a good friendship, and making everyone feel welcome — without sacrificing the desire to “do you!”. It is for this that I feel truly honored to stand with him as a part of The New Southern movement.
We caught up with Bradley for more on his business and taste in design — hoping to harness every bit of the inspiration that he has to offer.
Alyssa Rosenheck: Tell me about yourself.
Bradley Odom: I was a bit of a late bloomer, having gone back to school later in life to earn a degree from Savannah College of Art and Design. I was born in a small, rural town in Mississippi and have lived in several distinctly different Southern towns: New Orleans, Birmingham and my long-time home, Atlanta. The rich heritage of the South informs not only how I design, but how I work with clients — family first, entertaining, outdoor/indoor living, lush greenery, inviting spaces and personal stories reflected in everyday objects. Though rooted in the South, my time in retail allowed me to visit, and be inspired and informed by varied pockets of the U.S. These experiences, alongside my history of working for small startups and reimagined brands with an entrepreneurial mind-set, fed and fueled my desire to create my own brand.
AR: Dixon Rye is filled with visual inspiration from room to room...How has the shop contributed to the modernized Southern style?
BO: Dixon Rye has provided us a platform to experiment with mixing different styles, but more importantly, different materials. Our environment leans industrial as it’s a 1943 building that served as an Iron Foundry, with soaring ceilings, and the original crane and pulley systems. Because of this we are uniquely positioned to play with the juxtaposition of humble materials like blackened steel, with luxe materials and antiques — ones that could easily be reminiscent of inherited pieces found in homes all across the South.
AR: What innovative trends are you seeing with The New Southern style across the country?
BO: I’m enjoying the use of innovative, and sometimes minimal, finishes on unexpected pieces. The use of a fuming process on walnut floors is always a win for me — it lets the wood be the hero, focusing less on the finish, showing the character and history of each individual plank.
AR: Do you have any tips on how to master the growth of a store?
BO: I wouldn’t say that I’ve mastered it by any means, but we continue to learn and grow. Being able to plan and implement quickly is so important, but being able to quickly adapt to change and move on from ideas that you’re emotionally attached to when they aren’t working is perhaps even more important.
AR: What’s one piece of advice that you wish you had heard when you were first starting out?
BO: You do you! — Focus more on your vision and less on what others are doing. You’ve also got to surround yourself with others who are operationally and financially sound. Be willing to learn and gain an understanding of this side of the business because at the end of the day you own the results.
AR: What’s your life motto?
BO: Ask for forgiveness, not permission. But above all else, just be a good person.
AR: How do you continue to differentiate yourself in the marketplace?
BO: You know, sometimes I think the push for brick-and-mortar shops to innovate to keep up with e-commerce is overthought and overcomplicated. It seems like the most innovative thing that we can do is to honor the legacy of the small shop owner. We build relationships, we serve beverages, we send thank you notes, and at the end of the day, we make friends who are our biggest brand ambassadors.
AR: The one shade that changes everything? Tell us what mood it evokes and when/how you’ve used it.
BO: Farrow and Ball Hague Blue, of course. My love for that color began when I painted my bedroom, creating a warm, cocooning, and calming haven, and ultimately inspiring the branding of Dixon Rye.
AR: The place you go to get inspired?
BO: The mountains or anywhere that I can successfully disconnect. It’s so important to find places where you can be present with your quieter thoughts and ideas that are sometimes drowned out by the noise of technology and the day-to day duties of owning and operating a small business.
AR: The key to making a house a home? What does a home need more of and less of?
BO: I love this question! Less television and more shared meals. New surroundings need to be accompanied with new memories and experiences to solidify a relationship. My advice would be to start throwing the parties, having friends over for dinner, and creating new memories set in your new surroundings.
AR: Who are some of your favorite artists/makers? What do you love about their work?
BO: Paul Schneider is one of my favorite makers that we’re honored to represent at the shop. His unique lamps come in hand-thrown shapes and custom glazes, and they are perfectly scaled. We also work with artisans in Morocco to create beautiful pottery with an enigmatic quality. Each piece is made by hand and follows the ancient Moroccan tadelakt process – the result being our beautiful vase collection. I love watching artisans take something from a simple sketch, injecting it with their skill and finesse to create a beautiful end product that’s better than the raw idea.
AR: My momma always said...
BO: “Tell someone when their zipper is down or when they have something on their face. You would want them to tell you.”
AR: Design book you’ll always have on your shelf?
BO: Domestic Art.
AR: What’s your next dream or business venture?
BO: The next big focus within this year is to expand our online offerings to a full e-commerce site. A dream and long-term goal is to have a separate design office where we can design products and interiors to expand assortment and capacity for our customers and design clients.