Savannah is known as the Hostess City—a place where you can’t hardly get your coat off before someone’s handin’ you a glass of sweet tea or bourbon depending on your preferences (and maybe the time of day).
I suppose that’s one reason why I’ve always felt so at home here. It’s in my nature to make people feel welcome. My grandmother and granddaddy made a business out of it running their motel and restaurant at River Bend, just outside of Albany, Georgia. Anyone in hospitality knows that if people don’t feel welcome, they’ll be outta there in two shakes of a lamb’s tail, and I guess that sunk in. I love to welcome people to my restaurant, my store, my home, my life…. My boys sometimes warn me not to let my mouth overload my tail—“oversharing” is what they call it—but I really enjoy openin’ my world up and letting good people in.
When Michael and I were building our new home, we knew we wanted a place where our friends and family felt comfortable with lots of space for entertaining both kids and adults. We didn’t want “showrooms” you never stepped foot in, or furniture you couldn’t sit in ‘cause you were afraid your hinny might break it. We wanted our home to wrap its arms around anyone who came by—a place that says, “Hey y’all, come on in.”
Right about that time I was approached by Universal Furniture out of High Point, N.C., to start my own line. I was so excited because I knew exactly the kind of furniture I wanted to design: comfortable, but in good taste. Together, Universal and I developed a beautiful line of good, strongly structured furniture and launched the Paula Deen Furniture Collection.
I’m real proud of what we created. Sometimes when you come out with 2nd and 3rd lines you can be disappointed because the excitement can wear off and the consumer may move on to something new. But we got a huge response from dealers and we’re getting a good track record behind. This isn’t just some flash-in-the-pan endeavor for me. I take a lot of pride in what we’re creating: a happy home.
It really put things in perspective for me when Universal arranged for two rental homes in nearby Bluffton, S.C., to be furnished entirely by the Paula Deen line. It blew me away seeing how my pieces completely transformed those homes that felt so cold and empty before I put my touch on it. The homes were so, well, so me.
Thankfully, our sales just seem to be going up and up, which I’m really grateful for. But it’s no mystery as to why this is, y’all. I just apply my Grandparents’ reasonin’: like the River Bend I was raised in and the Hostess City I now call home, my furniture makes you feel welcome—and let me tell y’all, that’s a wonderful feeling to come home to.