On Tuesday (April 25), the Grand Ole Opry’s backstage area was transformed into a party space filled with twinkling lights, crawfish, wine and whiskey bars, an airstream and plenty of southern charm as Opry Entertainment celebrated its exclusive, artist-curated merchandise line with Grand Ole Opry members Little Big Town.
The collection’s title, Boondocks, is taken from the group’s first hit and is the first of four capsule collections Little Big Town and Opry Entertainment plan to release this year. Other Little Big Town songs will similarly inspire the three additional collections.
“This looks like a dream Saturday night,” said Karen Fairchild as she took in the surroundings. “I wish this was my backyard, with a wine bar and a whiskey bar, and an airstream trailer.”
The Boondocks line incorporates southern, woodsy elements into pieces such as greeting cards, wine tumblers, shirts, coffee mugs, totes, guitar straps, and clothing pieces, all emblazoned with lyrics from Little Big Town’s songs, especially “Boondocks.”
The capsule includes a red lacy jacket from Fairchild’s separate Fair Child clothing line, as well as denim and camo jackets. The capsule collection also offers fun patches emblazoned with Little Big Town song titles such as “Girl Crush” and “Happy People” to accessorize clothing.
The collection expands on the ties between Little Big Town and Opry Entertainment. Earlier this year, Little Big Town launched the Ryman Auditorium’s first residency.
“It’s like a tasting room tonight,” said Fairchild, who revealed they were quite thorough in testing products from the Boondocks line. “The wine glasses in the Boondocks collection, we practiced to see if they really will break or scratch. We bounced them off the floor several times, and the Opry knows how to make a good wine glass.”
A leather journal has the set list of the first night of the Ryman residency in the back of it and the chorus to “Boondocks” in the front.
“Hopefully it will inspire everyone to journal and maybe write some songs,” said Fairchild.
“Their vision and love of putting beautiful things together, their creativity, their passion for reaching their fans through merchandise and every form possible, has made this a beautiful collection,” said Kim O’Dell, VP of Retail for Opry Entertainment Group. “It was each of them giving me feedback for months on end to find things they want to get to fans.”
Fairchild and her fellow Little Big Town members Kimberly Schlapman, Phillip Sweet, and Jimi Westbrook each spoke of their favorite pieces from the Boondocks capsule. Sweet favored the leather journal, while Fairchild preferred a sturdy water bottle. Westbrook favored a coffee mug, while Schlapman also claimed a coffee mug emblazoned with the lyrics Old Camp Creek as her favorite.
“We live and die by coffee. I have a newborn,” said Schlapman, who recently announced she and her family had adopted a new baby girl. “I grew up on Camp Creek Road and that’s why we put that line in ‘Boondocks,’” said Schlapman.
“When we wrote [“Boondocks”], we were in a place in our musical journey, that we wanted to speak about our lives and who we were,” Sweet said. “That really was a defining moment for us. We had just been dropped from a major label, but then that was the first song we had success with. It took us to the party.”
“It was the perfect song to launch a lifestyle collection,” remarked Fairchild. “Our days start, because we have babies, with a cup of coffee— “
“Lots of coffee,” Westbrook interjected.
“And because we [also] have babies, it ends with a glass of wine,” said Fairchild. “All of that in between, from things that are fashionable to the jewelry to the journals because we are songwriters, Boondocks was the perfect correlation to show fans how we live our lives through really beautiful things.”
The evening also featured merchandise from the group’s recent retail ventures.
The backstage area at the Grand Ole Opry offered turkey sliders and Crazy Daisy bars from Schlapman’s cookbook Oh Gussie, as well as red wine and chardonnay from the group’s new line 4 Cellars, a partnership with Browne Family Vineyards in Walla Walla, Washington. Schlapman, in 2015, partnered with Cracker Barrel for a product line as well.
Previously, Karen Fairchild spun her love of fashion into the clothing line Fair Child. In addition to Schlapman’s cookbook Oh Gussie, she has a new kitchen line, dubbed Love & Daisies, in the works with the Home Shopping Network. Fairchild said those previous business experiences allowed them to come into the new project with wisdom about the retail process.
“It influences us by knowing what a cohesive collection feels like, down to the way the leather feels on the leather guitar strap. The colors of the bracelets match The Breaker album. We are kind of crazy control freaks, but if you are going to do something like this, you have to be or it’s not cohesive. When you pick up some of those items, you think, ‘Yeah, this a whiskey glass Phillip would have in his house.’ That’s how I’ve learned. And the Opry/Ryman team has been incredible to work with.”
The Boondocks collection marks the second time Opry Entertainment Group has partnered with an artist to launch a line of merchandise, following their work on the Selma Drye by Kellie Pickler line of home goods that launched with Pickler in 2015.
“We did research to find those attributes that fans most relate to,” says O’Dell. “Once we defined those attributes, we started to build lifestyle products inside our stores that gave fans who come through our doors an opportunity not just to buy a memento of their trip here, but the opportunity to incorporate themselves into a country lifestyle and take a piece of it home with them that they couldn’t find anywhere else.”
O’Dell says fans can expect Opry Entertainment collaborations on new collections from additional country artists in the near future.
“We are looking at making sure we grow this to include up and coming artists, A-list artists like Little Big Town and legacy artists. We are working on that simultaneously and every year will include a mix of that.”
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