In March 2006 sisters Holly and Hilary Williams, granddaughters of Hank Williams — one of country music’s most influential singer-songwriters — were in a serious car accident that left Holly uncertain as to whether she would ever play the guitar or tour again. “I couldn’t leave Nashville and had to resort to a backup plan,” the now-33-year-old musician says.
The life-changing event led Williams to open the boutique H. Audrey (named for her first initial and middle name) where clients like Martina McBride, Sheryl Crow, Gwyneth Paltrow, Connie Britton and Faith Hill shop for contemporary American and international labels including Iro, Malene Birger and Zoe Karssen.
“People have a reputation of [only wearing] fringed cowboy boots in Nashville,” says Williams. “I wanted to create a store where people could find things like cool rock’n’roll T-shirts and leather jackets.”
Williams’ aesthetic resonates. “It’s the most cutting edge of the Nashville shops,” says Paltrow, who stops by when she’s in town. “Holly has exquisite taste.”
There’s also an appreciation for Williams’ personal touch. “If there’s something I think would look fabulous on Sheryl Crow, I’ll text her a photo,” she says. “We wouldn’t normally carry a $700 Rohit Gandhi sequined vest, but if I thought it’d be perfect for Taylor Swift, I’d hold it for her stylist.” Says Crow, “[Holly] carries everything I love. Who better to create a store of rockin’ pieces than a rock star?”
In addition to reigniting her music career and becoming a mom (she and husband Chris Coleman, touring guitarist for Kings of Leon, just welcomed daughter Stella June on Sept. 30), Williams is launching a website for her lifestyle boutique, White’s Mercantile, on Nov. 15 that will allow people to shop a selection of H. Audrey items online. “It’s the biggest project I’ve ever taken on. I think I’ve maxed out on what comes next,” she says before pausing. “Well, I’d love to have my own clothing line one day, too.”
-Cheryl Brody Franklin