You know pretty quickly that clever Amy Kinslow is from the South once you hear her favorite saying is "I'm fixin' to . . ." followed right close by "Lord willin' and the creek don't rise."
While mining deep into her soul a few years back, the farm-raised, country music-loving graphic designer struck gold when she hit upon the simple but true notions surrounding her heritage. Today her line of Southern Fried Design Barn paper goods may be found in more than 50 stores from Texas to Carolina as well as at POSH on the Lebanon square.
Among her bodacious creations with a purely Southern flair is her Southern Sayings collection, greeting cards that sport such lines as "Goodness Gracious," "Are You Gonna Pull Those Pistols or Whistle Dixie," "Hold Your Horses," "How's Your Momma and 'Em," "I Love You More Than Sweet Tea and Garth Brooks," and the simply delicious "Moonshine or Moonpies."
Kinslow, 26, who graduated from Middle Tennessee State University in December 2010 with a degree in graphic design, had dreamed of launching a stationery line but had no theme in mine. Then lightning struck.
"In January 2011 I spent a lot of time researching the [stationery] industry, what was popular and big at the time. One of our teachers at MTSU made us dig deep into who you are. I knew I loved the South and the land. I knew I was gonna have to go around these traits, the South and country lifestyle," says the 2006 Wilson Central High School alum.
"It hit me. I should do this Southern thing. I couldn't find cards that had any of these Southern sayings on them. No one else was doing them. I knew it had to stand out, so I decided to go that route."
Staying true to her essence, she came up with variety of paper goods such as Mason Jar bridal greeting cards, "Bless Your Heart" and "Cheers Y'all" cocktail napkins, "Heavens to Betsy" gold foil gift tags, "Slap Your Momma" notepads, and "Hello darlin'" and "Yeehaw Let's Party" all occasion cards.
"I thought it would be cool to bring these old Southern sayings back but with a modern twist and using designs that would showcase the pictures. I'm a bit particular, and I didn't want my work to be copied in an easy way," said Kinslow.
"My stuff had to look different so it wouldn't be easily copied. With my photography it couldn't be easily reproduced. I could take that and type and lay that over the photos."
The South just gets it
The graphic designer began selling her paper goods collection with an Etsy store online in 2012 before launching a website in the summer of 2013. In 2013 and 2014 she displayed her work at the National Stationary Show in New York City, mostly to retailers in the Northeast.
"In New York some people would ask, 'What does that mean?' about particular sayings," Kinslow reports, but she fared much better with her line at America's Mart in Atlanta in January.
"They just got it. There I got lot of small mom-and-pop businesses. They would look at my products and say, 'Oh, we're gonna buy it right now.' That was nice."
Assisting her with the Atlanta show were members of Wilson Central High's Future Farmers of America who constructed her booth.
More recently Kinslow has taken her talents to design a line of paper products for the famed Nashville Loveless Café, which are available at the restaurant's Hams & Jams Country Market.
She describes Southern Fried Barn Design as being "made from scratch with a dash of Southern charm and a smidgen of old-time wit."
Her mission, she writes on her web site, "is to help spread, educate and cherish the culture of the South, because there's a lot more to living below the Mason-Dixon Line than just a Southern drawl and homemade sweet tea. It's a different world down here, full of rich history and an inviting Southern hospitality that's just too hard to resist."
The daughter of Phillip and Paula Kinslow of Lebanon, she has two siblings, Paul and Jenny, and has been a graphic designer at CMT for four years. "I work on everything there that you can hold: print design, T-shirts, tickets, billboards," she says.
Even before enlisting with the country music television channel, she was hooked on country music. "I love all the greats: Dolly, Loretta," Kinslow said. "Recently I have been drawn to Brandi Clark and Ashley Monroe. They have this style: they're modern but a throwback."
As for her corral full of traditional Southern sayings, she bounced her ideas off her parents.
"They were very supportive. They liked it. Now they come home and say, 'Have you tried this?' My girlfriends send me text messages with ideas and ask, 'Do you think this will sell?'," laughed Kinslow.
During her precious free time, she enjoys hanging with her girlfriends and going on farm calls with her veterinarian father.
"We go look at cattle and horses. My dad talks a lot. I guess I got my gift of gab from him," she said.
The Southern-fried miss confesses her favorite beverage is Coca-Cola, which was concocted in Atlanta, while her favorite meal is fried chicken, mac and cheese, green beans, a sour-dough bread roll and fried okra from Sunset Restaurant.
What? No Moon Pie for dessert?
Writer Ken Beck may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.