ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT - Mattie Jackson Selecman '08
The lanes of life have led me in many directions in the 11 years since I walked across the FRA stage, stood with the 13-Year Club, and offered my short-sighted 17-year old wisdom in our class of 2008 commencement speech. From kindergarten to 12th grade, FRA was my home, my life, and in hindsight, the lens through which I would see much of the early years of my adult life. After receiving an undergraduate degree in creative writing from the University of Tennessee, I decided to spread my wings, move across the country, and find out who I was outside of Nashville private school and UT Knoxville. I spent just shy of three years in Austin, Texas, and Napa, California, falling in love with the world of wine and food.
In my heart I knew Nashville would always be home, so at the close of 2014, I moved back with little experience and too big of a dream. I opened and ran my own wine bar restaurant, Salt & Vine, for two years, fairly unprepared for the grueling work that industry demands. It was an exciting, exhausting, and perfectly preparatory season: one in which the Lord was building muscles I didn’t yet know I needed. He put me in a place so unlike where I’d come from – cynical, indulgent, worldy, and so far from the sheltered walls of 4700 Franklin Road – to be a light in places that didn’t ordinarily shine. I learned to be a real leader, a servant leader, not just the leader of FCA or Student Council or a basketball team. I found heart-changing encouragement from walking with young women on our staff through everyday darkness my eyes had never seen. I fell in love with shepherding women in whatever daily ways I knew how, until the Lord called me in a totally unforeseen direction.
In spring of 2018, less than a year after I’d gotten married, I was clearly led to close the restaurant and pursue a road toward leading, encouraging, and ministering to women. I had zero understanding of how to get to that road, much less where it was headed, but the Lord made it resoundingly clear that was my next exit. Three weeks after shutting it down, I got a call from a friend of a friend.
“I know I haven’t seen you in forever, but I heard you closed the restaurant, and you’re wanting to go into ministering to women. Can we have coffee?” Less than one month after closing the doors, the Lord blew an unforeseen one open. In the wake of a messy, debilitating adoption, Brooke, my co-founder, gave up a successful marketing job to launch a women’s apparel brand, her heart bursting at the seams to advocate for women and children like her adopted daughter and her teenage birth mom. In July of 2018, we built the NaSHEville, branding, products, financials, blog and podcast content, everything. We found non-profit partners for our three core missions: orphans, widows, and trafficked women —which are and will remain groups for which we advocate and to whom our profits go.
Both having grown up in local private schools, the powerful union of compassion and resources was something we had seen yield real change since childhood. We decided against a non-profit structure for NaSHEville, confident in the fact that we could make more, give more, and reach exponentially more women with a successful company than a 501c3. Having never worked in fashion or merchandising, my learning curve was steep, but with our mission to encourage, empower, and embrace women of all walks and all ages, the biblical call to “put on love” proved perfectly suited to our product line, which we often refer to as a “walking billboard” for our deeper mission.
NaSHEville goes beyond a brand. We are calling all SHE’S to wear not just a shirt or hat, but to wear a movement—A movement that kindles compassion and brings light to our city. A company that puts service above success. A brand that makes you proud to be a woman living out her true purpose, whatever that purpose is, and proud to lock arms with women from all walks to make a difference. A community that loves on and lends a hand to those who Jesus loved and helped: orphans, widows, and prostitutes. Each of the three groups that make up our core ministries has an intimate place in our own stories, particularly mine having lost my young husband suddenly just eight weeks after starting NaSHEville.
Women and children in dire physical, emotional, or spiritual need are the eternal heartbeat of our narrative, both who we are as individuals and who we serve as a company. Our primary partners for ministering and giving back are: Love One International, End Slavery Middle Tennessee, and Modern Widows Club.
We are one size fits all – built for all women in all seasons. With our blog and podcast, we get the chance to share the stories of and collaborate with strong, successful women across all industries in Nashville. Through sale of our products, we have the privilege to serve many in need financially, emotionally, and spiritually. We call the SHE’S of our city to step out in courage, step up in support, and join in to give back to hurting women and children. We work to equip the broken, encourage the weary, and empower the weak. We’re tired of accepting others’ struggle and suffering from a removed place of safety and success. We are here to wear NaSHEville on our hearts, and to wear our hearts on our sleeves, for the greater good of women everywhere.