WARDROBE STYLIST, FASHION TRUCK OWNER
Written and Photographed By Kelley Mullarkey | Video Produced By Sean Stillmaker
A pivotal point of the 1980s rests in the era’s traversing ideology of counterculture travel. A booming shift from the 70s vibes of Kerouac inspired hippie adventures to industry fueled jet setting began taking place.
By way of the trickle down effect filtrated through living room TVs everywhere, this introduced residents in even the smallest of towns across America of an international phenomenon — a world that stretched further than their neighbor’s door that they too could be a part of.
Raised a half mile down a gravel road in Clinton, Louisiana, a place with under 2,000 people, Abby, a stylist and owner of The Trunk, Nashville’s first fashion truck, credits her parent’s life saving satellite dish and watching too much MTV as her crash course into the fashion and music world.
“MTV was everything back in the day. You know, when they showcased musicians. It introduced me to music and style and the relationship between the two. Everything for me is rooted in music,” explained Abby in a pair of sky-high Jeffery Campbell wedges, situated inside of her East Nashville home, which she shares with her husband Dustin and their adorable dog Sasha.
Abby is an ultimate badass woman with a wardrobe, mindset and career that equally highlight her love for an always evolving expressive culture. Sharp-witted, laid back and unspeakably hard working are just a few of the traits that make Abby the quintessential Gypset artesian with a rock n’ roll infused aesthetic. Kicking mediocrity to the sidelines, Abby is making the world a hipper place through her insight and unconventional lifestyle, which just so happens to include having toured the globe with Prince and worked for Michael Jackson.
With parents who were both heavily into the sounds of Johnny Cash and Carole King, Abby was bred in a bubble of music attending the Urban Cowboy tour at the ripe age of 6 with backstage access.
“Despite being in such a small school growing up I was lucky enough to find two New Wave friends who loved different kinds of music and shared a passion for Duran Duran. I’ve always had a rocker girl mentality. I’ve been wearing black since I was in high school back in the 80s. We were the only one’s in school who looked like that but we didn’t care,” explained Abby.
After high school Abby went to Louisiana State University where she spent a semester in Florida working an internship with the Disney Work Program before graduating with a degree in speech and communication.
With a fresh diploma in hand Abby moved to Florida experimenting with working in TV as an audience recruiter for the MTV show Sandblast. But her calling came when she worked as a production assistant for a sleeping aid commercial.
“I was supposed to be helping out with production but the wardrobe stylist didn’t show up and someone on set looked over at me and said, 'hey, you look like you like to shop,' and proceeded to hand me money and told me what to purchase for the shoot. I didn’t even realize that this could be an actual job position.”
From there Abby transitioned to working backstage at the House of Blues until a local band at the time, Creed, came through and hit it off with Abby and promised if they ever made it big they’d take her on the road with them, Abby remembered.
“I went on tour with Creed in 2000 as their wardrobe stylist. They had never had a stylist before but their tour manager decided to give me a chance. That’s really when I found the niche that worked for me, but I was constantly thinking to myself, how can I sustain this? This wasn’t a time when it was wildly known that you could do wardrobe for bands and travel the world as a legitimate career.”
One twist of fate led to another and soon enough Abby received a call to work with Prince on his Mixology tour really igniting her career. For the next several years Abby toured with everyone from Bon Jovi to the Smashing Pumpkins to Lenny Kravitz and Madonna. With her days jam-packed Abby took in as much as she could balancing wardrobe creations and roaming cities front to back, just in case she never had the opportunity to return to them.
“Styling is such an intimate creative role. I work with the artists and enhance who they are. You have to be able to make something out of nothing. If you’re in a pinch you need to make it work. I went into this industry knowing nothing. It’s all about perseverance and genuine innovation.”
In 2010 when Abby met her husband Dustin while on tour in Hawaii with Bon Jovi she realized she wanted to settle down and chose Nashville, a city filled with creative minds. Taking her experiences of traveling on tour around the globe Abby fueled them into a new project – The Trunk.
Originally wanting to open a men’s clothing store but unable to find any affordable space Abby recalls a sighting in a Fedex parking lot that sparked her newfound interest.
“I went to Fedex and saw a food truck and thought. I remembered reading about a woman selling shoes out of a car. I went home and googled fashion trucks and noticed that people had done it as a promo but never a full fledged business.”
Putting her business plan into action Abby purchased a 1986 Snap-On tools truck and began renovation and branding. Pressing on with diligence The Trunk has overcome mishapes and tribulations and now serves as a collaborative staple in Nashville’s creative scene thanks to Abby’s ability to curate a selection that brings awareness to local designers and the amazing talent of Trunk Manager Amanda Boyle who introduced us.
The Trunk, much like Abby symbolizes dedication, inspiration and undeniable passion.
From her nomadic tendencies showcased through her personality and wardrobe, an endless sea of motorcycle boots, whimsical prints from AllSaints and covetable gemstones, Abby pumps a surplus of creative energy into the world. Abby reminds us that no project is too big to conquer and creativity is a powerful vehicle for it all.
Music By David J. Smith