Mississippi Monday | Erin Austen Abbott

Mississippi Monday | Erin Austen Abbott

Erin Austen Abbott is owner of Amelia and the creative mind behind many art and design projects in Mississippi including Otis & Co., The One Night Stand Motel Artshow Series, Studio Stories, #aportraitofmississippi and, if you can believe it, even more. Her aesthetic and passion for design paired with her love for our state and her drive to make things happen make her a one-of-a-kind gem in our community. We are so happy to call her our friend and to share a little of her story here...

Q & A with Erin:erin

Tell us a bit about yourself ... Hi. I'm Erin Austen Abbott, from originally from Oxford, MS where I lived until 1985 but I moved back to Mississippi, to Water Valley, just South West of Oxford, in 2005. I opened the shop Amelia in 2009 and my other business, Otis & Co. formed in 2014.
What does a typical day look like for you? My day starts really early. I get up around 4AM and begin writing, working on Otis & Co designs, answering emails, updating the Amelia online store, etc... My two year old son wakes around 6, so I get him up, fed, ready for school then we head to Oxford at 7AM. After dropping Tom Otis off, I get to work packaging up online orders, opening up the shop, mailing orders. By 2:30, when I pick Tom up, I've gotten most of my work done for the day and I can just focus on family until after dinner and Tom asleep. I usually answer a few more emails before heading to bed.
What background or foundation has lead you to where you are today? Well, it's funny the path we find ourselves on. I got my BS in Early Childhood Education and Masters in Photography. I taught for awhile in Seattle, nannied for longer, but opening up a shop and designing has always been my dream. I didn't go to school for either, but so far, that hasn't seemed to stop me from making it work. Sometimes I think drive can get you a long way.
Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetHow does Mississippi play a role in your work?

Mississippi plays a huge role in my work. Had I opened Amelia in a large city, that might have already had something similar, I don't think I would have been found. I opened with just $5000 for renovations and stock. I would have lasted 6 months, if I'd been able to open at all, somewhere else. I think it's important to know your market and I knew that no one else was bringing the type of goods to the state or the South in general, that I envisioned, at the time. But being that Mississippi is so welcoming and creative, I knew they could share and support my vision. Almost six years later, I couldn't be happier anywhere else. Mississippi also plays into the designs I create for Otis & Co., my photography, the art shows I curate. I feel so creative here, more than the six other states I've lived in.

What are some of your career goals and where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I'm currently meeting a lot of my goals, which is to open Amelia Outpost in several locations. My first one opened in Water Valley earlier this year and I'm in talks for a second later this year. I'd like to open four more in the next five years, in other regions as well. I also have plans to get Otis & Co. in full production. We are in the baby steps at the moment. I have a few more Amelia ideas that I look forward to sharing as I can, but right now, it's still mums the word.

Where do you draw inspiration from?

bookcase1I have a 25 minute commute and I think a lot on that drive- those are when I've had my best ideas, like The Motel Art Show series, Studio Stories on Instagram each week, Amelia Pop Up Parties, Otis & Co, etc... I also love finding new artists on Instagram and Pinterest.

When you aren’t working, you are…Playing with my son, out on back road drives with my husband and son, cooking, traveling.

What are some of your favorite local places to shop and dine?

I love Oxford Canteen, Honey Bee Bakery, Bottletree Bakery and Snack Bar. For shopping, Cicada, Square Books, Nella and Blue Delta Jeans.
Why do you call Mississippi home? I call Mississippi home because after moving all over the country, seven states in total and 13 cities, nothing compares. Everywhere I moved, it always came back to me as "but it's not like Mississippi." It just feels like where I'm supposed to be.
Processed with VSCOcam with f1 presetHow do you think what you are doing is helping to share the local community and the image of MS? I think through the shop and social media, I'm able to show a different side to Mississippi. I have customers from all over the world and many have told me that they didn't envision Mississippi to have certain goods or look the way it does, as they see in my #aportaitofmississippi series. I feel I can help deliver a small portion of its beauty and wonder.

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