Dooney & Bourke, Michael Kors, Calvin Klein-- you likely know these names. You might even carry one of their handbags. But there's an up and coming name in the same league as these big-time brands, Patricia Nash. And she calls East Tennessee home.
In a cozy, chic store on the 100 block of Gay Street, gorgeous leather bags grace the shelves, each with intricate detail.
"I've always taken this old world craftsmanship and wanted to put it on a today bag with rope in the handles or the edges burned," said Nash.
Patricia Nash is the brand and the woman behind the handbags. Patricia grew up for the most part in Houston. She was an adventurous child and came by it honestly.
"My dad used to be quite the adventurer. He had a plane when I was little and I loved to fly with him. He'd let me hold the wheel and pull it back and pull it in. Gosh, I was only six or seven years old," she said.
And she was creative. That came out even more later when she got married and had kids of her own.
"I loved to cut and paste and color. I remember coloring forever even when my children were little I would color with them and when they stopped I'd still be coloring watching TV," said Nash.
She mixed that passion with her good business sense.
"I opened up a little shop called The Basket Case and I had basketry, wicker furniture and I used to do silk floral arrangements," she recalled.
That store expanded to three stores, but there was a massive fire while she was pregnant with her second child, so she decided to take some time off. That didn't last long. Soon Patricia started Innovo inc.
"It was household items. It was aprons with sayings on them and little kitchen trivets and it kind of evolved into children's items, craft paint sets, craft aprons, little mugs," she described. "I got different licenses with MLB or Nickelodeon or the Muppets, or Ninja Turtles."
She eventually took that company public and moved on to another venture in Nashville that didn't go as planned. She moved to Knoxville and was considering retirement.
"That's when I was asked to consult with some different companies in New York," she said.
She ended up with a design team working on handbag designs for dozens of brands like Banana Republic, Express and American Eagle to name a few.
"Someone said to me, 'Why are you doing everyone else's brands and why are you consulting? Why don't you do your own brand?'"
Patricia's wheels started and Patricia Nash the brand was born.
"It's always inspired by some old works, something vintage I found," she said. "I saw an old horse feed bag, that they would put over the neck of the horse and the horse would feed on and I made a bucket bag out of it."
She also plays with prints like turning the pattern on a vintage dress into a handbag design.
In just four short years, Patricia Nash has grown into a brand that gives big labels big competition.
"We're in Dillard's. We're in Macy's. We're in Nordstrom, Lord and Taylor," said Nash. "We're probably one of the most promising new designer brands that are in department stores right now."
All of this success, travels all over the world and Patricia wouldn't live anywhere else.
"I love it and you know what's even more ironic is my husband loves it. He's a born and bred London man and lived there for 50 years and now he's here in Knoxville and loves it," she said.
Patricia Nash, gorgeous rich leather bags, yes, but also a really savvy business woman with a deep love for East Tennessee.
One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.
Patricia Nash's whole family has a passion for downtown Knoxville. Patricia's daughter works for her handbag company. Her husband invested in the Crown and Goose and her son is head chef and operator of the popular restaurant.