Published 5:57 pm, Friday, February 16, 2018
EDWARDSVILLE — Kenneathia Williams wants to bring a little bit of Nashville to town with her new store Sour Mash Boutique.
The store, at 116 N. Main St. in historic Downtown Edwardsville, opened on Valentine’s Day, appropriate since Sour Mash Boutique sells merchandise from Williams’ reLoved Leather accessory line. Williams will hold the store’s grand opening sometime in April.
“reLoved Leather is the reason for Sour Mash,” said Williams, who started reLoved Leather six years ago when she moved to Edwardsville. “I started making jewelry after I moved. I made an old belt into a bracelet.”
After she made the bracelet, several people asked where she bought it, and then asked if she could make one for them. She uses old belts and vintage jewelry for her reLoved Leather pieces. “About 75 percent of reLoved Leather is custom. People want me to use Dad or Grandpa’s belt and make some bracelets.”
Williams decided on the name Sour Mash after a friend suggested it.
“Sour mash is a mix of old and new,” she explained. “I put new and old together, to make stuff no one else has.”
Sour Mash Boutique also sells its own apparel brand and others, such as Double D Ranchwear, boots and merchandise from regional artisans. Williams also built a spot for musicians to perform, such as Lexy Schlemer, who took the new stage Feb. 14 during the store’s opening. Currently, Williams is booking artists for the April grand-opening event.
Working with Williams is Emily Whitaker and Cindy McCalla. McCalla oversees the beauty bar, which offers make-up and hair styling.
“We want women to look good and feel good,” Williams said. “She’s not cutting hair, just styling. She can do hair and make-up for special occasions.”
Williams formerly worked as a graphic designer in marketing and public relations before she moved to Edwardsville.
“I’ve been collecting vintage jewelry for a long time, since I was nine years old,” she said. “My dad was an antique collector. We were ‘pickers’ before people talked about pickers.”
Her father had a fifth-grade education, she said, but he knew how to work and make money.
“He would buy an old, broken tractor, tear it apart, fix it, put it back together, and sell it for five times what he paid,” she said. “His work ethic was instilled in me.”
Now, reLoved Leather is sold in more than 25 boutiques across the United States.
“It was time to have my own store and space,” Williams said. “I had been designing apparel and shirts in the corporate world, so I decided to do them here.”
Sour Mash Boutique’s apparel designs are created and printed in Edwardsville.
“We also have Double D Ranchwear out of Texas, and we’re the first Illinois store to sell it. We’ll have everything from T-shirts to $500 boots. We’ll also have items from artists local to me.”
Williams explained that since she grew up in the Little Rock, Arkansas, area and was there before moving to Edwardsville, local to her means both Illinois and her former home state.
“We’ll have clothes from head to toe,” she said. “I’ll get new things weekly. I don’t want everyone in Edwardsville to dress the same.”
ReLoved Leather really took off since Williams started it, especially after several celebrities and country singers discovered the hand-crafted jewelry and accessory line. Television actor William Shockley, who appeared in “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” and now is a producer, was one of the first people to wear reLoved Leather. Singer Drake White’s agent, who is from St. Louis, bought reLoved Leather for White.
“Erica Sunshine Lee reached out to me three years ago, on Instagram, and asked for a statement piece for a video she was shooting,” Williams recalled. “It’s now in 17 music videos of all genres.”
Williams also designed jewelry to go with some gowns worn to the Country Music Association (CMA) awards.
“I have ‘everyday’ wear to more elegant and classy things,” she said.
She also matched several custom cuffs with boots for customers.
“I was in the Golden Globes gifting lounge and swag bag,” Williams noted. “It was an honor because there were only 14 designers there.”
She still is using old belts and jewelry.
“One of my favorite things to do is treasure hunt,” she said.
Visit www.sourmashboutique.com, follow on Twitter @sourmashboutique and Facebook or call 6I8-975-7997 for more information. Visit @relovedleather for a peak at Williams’ designs.