Nashville native Kayce Hughes is a woman of many titles – proud wife, mother of seven, DIY maven, and fashion designer extraordinaire. She honed her craft over six years on Ralph Lauren’s women’s design team before taking a break to start her now impressively large (and oh-so-darling!) family. What began as a handful of charming nightshirts for her daughters, made from vintage textiles, eventually spun into a booming fashion business with more than 200 designs. From the children’s line evolved a women’s line, and now accessories are in the mix. Read on for Kayce’s insights on fashion, decor, and family.
What first inspired your love for fashion?
I grew up with a mother who has a wonderful sense of style. She always looks fashionable and still uniquely herself. My aunt is Lilly Pulitzer and as a little girl I loved playing hide-and-seek in the clothing racks of her warehouse. Both women are still great examples of how fun it can be to look fabulous yet how much more to life there is!
Where do you look for inspiration?
I love looking to the past for inspiration – clothing, patterns, and fabrics from the ’40s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s – and reinventing them in a way that feels right for today. I love hunting for vintage treasures in thrift stores and online.
What are some signature Kayce Hughes details or designs?
Color! Lots of color. I love prints and details that have a hint of vintage, like a special creative touch that a mother would have done when making a dress for her daughter’s birthday. My designs are made for women like me who enjoy pretty but also appreciate versatility and effortlessness. Some people have described my look as modern vintage and I like that.
Do you have a favorite piece for spring?
I love our vintage button down blouse in crisp white with bright blue piping. I am wearing mine now with jeans but will also love it with shorts when spring truly arrives. I love the huge ginghams that we did in pink, green, and blue. As far as favorite accessories, my absolute go-to item is our wood bangle with brass trim because it seems to go with everything.
If you weren't a fashion designer what would you be?
I know that I would need to create something...I was a studio art major in college and still love to draw and paint. I would definitely be tempted to buy one of those vintage letterpresses and start a paper line.
Your husband is the man behind the lens today! Do you two collaborate often?
We collaborate constantly. Scott shoots all of the images for our website and heads up all of the marketing and business sides of Kayce Hughes .
Have any of your seven children caught the fashion bug?
Yes, many of them. They have all grown up as part of the business – all modeling as children and some now as adults, brainstorming marketing ideas, and even the youngest are often drawing their concepts for clothes. It has been really fun to watch our children grow and develop their own unique styles.
With a family of nine you must make every square foot of your home count!
We do use all of our home! I don’t think there is a room that does not get used on a daily basis. We generally congregate in our kitchen/family room or on our screened porch or patio in the summer. For years all of our kids have shared bedrooms and the youngest three girls still do, but as they have grown older, we have given up our guest bedroom so our oldest two teenage daughters can make it to adulthood.
How did you approach the decorating?
We moved to Nashville from New York City nineteen years ago so we were ecstatic to have more than 800 square feet! We made our house a home over many years. The first year was full of painting. We were DIYers before the years of blogging and Pinterest! We had many years of finding treasures at Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Habitat for Humanity. Our house changed from sparsely furnished with a one year old to overflowing with seven children.
Any favorite pieces in your home?
I treasure all of the things that were passed down from Scott’s family and mine. One of my favorite things is our huge, round pine table in our kitchen/family room. It reminds me of the priceless hours our family has spent eating meals together. I love the glitter that got stuck on it two New Year's Eves ago, and I love the marks of pen and paint that exuberantly went beyond a piece of paper.
What was the inspiration behind your new retail spaces?
One of the fun things about designing our retail spaces is being able to make them as girly as I want (I would be vetoed quickly if I tried to have that much pink at home). There are some core things that they all have – lots of pink, high gloss white, Lucite, and faux bamboo. In Atlanta I found a fabulous pair of blue-and-white porcelain lamps at a consignment shop, and because of them, most of that store is very blue and pink chinoiserie.
What do you love most about being a Nashville shop owner?
I have loved our first store in Chattanooga and am still putting the finishing touches on our Atlanta store that is less than a month old, but there is nothing like having a store in your hometown. Getting to share it with my family and friends makes it extra special for me.
What's up next for Kayce Hughes?
For now I am really enjoying working on designing our women’s and children’s collections and dreaming about adding our next store!