Middle Tennessee small businesswomen look to break sales records at Pilgrimage Fest

Middle Tennessee small businesswomen look to break sales records at Pilgrimage Fest

FRANKLIN, Tennessee (WKRN) – This weekend, Park at Harlinsdale in Franklin will be packed with food trucks, family fun and music as the Pilgrimage Festival Music & Cultural Festival kicks off for its eighth year.

The festival, spearheaded by Chris Stapleton and Brandi Carlile, will also feature several small businesses based in the Nashville area that will be selling their wares to festival audiences.

The Nashville Blanket Project, Tye Dye Mary and Strings for Hope, all based in Nashville, will make repeat appearances at the festival in Williamson County this weekend. All three are eager to spread the word about their business, make new contacts, make friends and enjoy music.

Marissa Barrett, co-founder of The Nashville Blanket Project, hopes sales at this year’s festival will help her and her husband, Chris, reach their goal of gifting 10,000 blankets to those in need.

The Nashville Blanket Project sells authentic, ethically made Mexican blankets and donates a blanket to a neighbor in need for each one sold. (Courtesy of The Nashville Blanket Project)

Marissa and Chris, both Nashville natives, started The Nashville Blanket Project in 2018 as a social enterprise — a company like TOMS that operates a buy-one-give-one charity model.

“The mission of the Nashville Blanket Project is to keep Nashville cozy,” Marissa told News 2. “For every blanket sold, one is given to a neighbor in need. We partner with local People Loving Nashville nonprofits and the Community Resources Center to get the blankets out.”

Since its inception, the Project has distributed over 6,000 blankets to anyone who needs them in Nashville and in 2021 opened a store in East Nashville.

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This year’s festival is the third for the Barretts.

“We were suppliers at Pilgrimage in 2019 and again in 2021,” said Marissa. “Both years Pilgrimage was our busiest and very well organized event.”

Festival sales were 10 times higher than a normal weekend for the Project, something Marissa is looking forward to and getting ready to stock up on new merchandise.

Strings for Hope creates handcrafted jewelry made from recycled strings from guitars or other stringed instruments. The company also has a reassuring mission to help those who have escaped horrible situations.

The Nashville Blanket Project also sells US-made blankets at its East Nashville store. (Courtesy of The Nashville Blanket Project)

“We will be bringing brand-new autumn blankets to the festival, as well as our trucker hats,” she said. “We look forward to another amazing event with beautiful weather and an amazing schedule.”

Marissa added that she hopes sales from this year’s festival will help the Project reach its goal of distributing 10,000 blankets by 2024.

Emily Winters, CEO of Strings for Hope, is also looking forward to sharing her business with those making the Pilgrimage this weekend.

“Our mission is to empower and employ survivors of addiction, trafficking and domestic abuse,” Winters said. “We do this through a job development program where we train survivors in the art of jewelry making.”

By using recycled musical strings, Winters said, the organization is able to keep thousands of pounds of old strings out of landfills each year.

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“With every donation of old string and every purchase of jewelry, you are employing survivors,” she said.

This year’s festival will mark the fifth appearance of Strings for Hope, and Winters said she’s also looking forward to this year’s lineup as it features an artist she liked the last time he performed in Franklin.

“The best was when Chris Stapleton and Justin Timberlake performed together in 2017,” she said. “I look forward to seeing Chris again.”

The increase in business is also a draw for Winters, who said the festival tends to bring in much more interest and traffic and allows the organization to keep growing.

“Typically, at the Pilgrimage Festival, we’re able to triple the amount we earn on a typical day of sales,” Winters told News 2. “This directly affects growth potential.”

She added that she was looking forward to seeing all the people stopping by her Maker’s Village, educating them on the mission and history of Strings for Hope and enjoying the atmosphere.

For those looking to liven up their wardrobe with fun, funky colors, Mary Deprez has what they need.

Deprez runs Tye Dye Mary and specializes in the art of dyeing clothes – for good reason: she’s been at it for over four decades.

A Tye Dye Mary customer is wearing a hand-dyed outfit much like the one that will be available at Pilgrimage this weekend. (Courtesy of Mary Deprez)

“This is my 43rd year in my profession, and that’s all I do,” she told News 2.

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Mary represents “an incredible accumulation of experience enjoyed by my thousands of fans and customers” through her hand-dyed clothing, accessories, decor and other bespoke items.

Her work has been featured in books, art shows, craft fairs, and even music videos by some of Nashville’s favorite country stars. Alan Jackson wore a shirt that she dyed in her music video for “Where Were You (When The World Stopped Turning), and Wynonna Judd wore an outfit made of velvet dyed by Mary during a recording of a 2005 concert.

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This will be her fourth appearance on Pilgrimage, which she hopes will be even better than the others — including 2021, when she broke sales records, she told News 2.

“We’ll have an excellent assortment of all sorts of varieties and sizes, as well as color and pattern combinations, from color-fast pre-shrunk garments,” she said of her booth at the festival.

Source : www.wkrn.com

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