MAKER: MELODY MCCLARY
WHY DOES HIGHTAIL HANDMADE CALL AUSTIN HOME
Austin is an incredible city for all sorts of reasons but I think the one stands out the most is the friendly and creative community. That’s my favorite thing about Austin.
FAVORITE SONG/ARTIST/ALBUM FOR A SPARK OF CREATIVITY
My husband would probably say Lemonade, because I haven’t stopped playing it since it came out. I also really love Valerie June, Haim, Leon Bridges, Dr. Dog, Bahamas, Rihanna
BIGGEST DEBATE OF ALL: COFFEE or TEA, BE SPECIFIC ;)
Tea because I’m super sensitive to caffeine so even a sip of coffee gives me the sweats! I am a big fan of Zhi Tea and The Steeping Room blends.
WHO DO YOU FOLLOW FOR INSTAGRAM INSPIRATION
There are so many! My friends Jonnyka and Veronica of @theonikas are full of positive and thoughtful inspiration. @ftlonesome is an incredible reminder of how bigger isn’t better and growing your business slowly has great rewards. @mathapincoffs for a true example of prioritizing self care while standing up for your beliefs. @clairesommersbuck maker of beautiful jewelry and @flatfrances for super smart and funny reminders we ladies are all in this together!
FAVORITE LOCAL FOOD TRUCK(S)
Veracruz most definitely, I took my mom there when she was visiting and she still texts me to say “I’m thinking about those tacos this morning…” Saigon le Vendeur is a winner and Leroy and Lewis for rad BBQ.
FAVORITE LOCAL CURATED BOUTIQUE(S)
Solid Gold, Love Craft Boutique, Friends & Neighbors
FAVORITE LOCAL COFFEE SHOP(S)
GO TO MID-DAY SNACK or ROUTINE FOR CREATIVE FUEL
I really love cold leftovers to get me through a long day.
WHERE DO YOU FEEL THE MOST CREATIVE? EX: HOME, STUDIO, NATURE, SHOP, ETC.
Oh gosh all of the above I think. I am lucky enough to live out in the country and that really helps me slow down. I haven’t been doing much of it lately but time in the garden always brings great inspiration.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO CREATE HIGHTAIL HANDMADE
My background is in agriculture. Over the past decade I’ve worked in some facet of my local food community to bring more access, knowledge, and transparency around what we put in our bodies. Building a truly sustainable and clean food system isn’t something we’ve ever had figured out. It’s a giant problem and we are slowly making changes.
I think fashion has similar battles. So much of the process is invisible to the end user. I honestly don’t believe that if faced with the reality of what is happening in that system people would continue to support it. Several years ago I committed to not buying anything from China for one year. It was really tough and it was more expensive but I bought less and took better care of what I had. That experience still impacts my buying habits today. I want to know who grew my food and who made my clothes. I want to offer people an option they can feel good about, apparel with intention and a story.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EXCITING MOMENT SO FAR OF HIGHTAIL HANDMADE
I would have to say my first sale to a stranger online. I was giggling and dancing and singing and bouncing all over the place. (*honest talk* that still happens every time) Of course I want to build a productive business but more than that it’s such validation when other people like and value what you create.
HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE YOUR BRAND STANDS OUT
By staying true to what I believe in and my perspective.
WHO HAS HAD THE MOST CREATIVE INFLUENCE ON YOUR LIFE
Hands down my mom. I didn’t play sports or do traditional things like that but she always nurtured my desire to make things, or paint them, or redecorate my room, and she taught me to sew. I remember in third grade collecting puzzles that she brought up to school and we made barrettes and picture frames out of the pieces and then got to paint them. I don’t know if it was intentional but she taught me how to reuse things and recreate them into other things. She made Barbie clothes, elaborate Halloween costumes, and puppets for our church. She taught me that I could make anything and that if I was going to put the time into making something it should be done well.
HOW IMPORTANT IS SHOPPING LOCAL TO YOU
I love getting my dollar as close to the farmer/ maker/ designer as possible and shopping local is the best way to do that. It makes a huge impact and every time we buy things we have a choice of who and what we want to support.
HOW HAS THE AUSTIN COMMUNITY SUPPORTED YOU
It’s been incredible! Markers and customers alike have been so positive and generous.
SHARE ABOUT THE BOND/RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN HIGHTAIL HANDMADE + AFRICA
All the textiles used to make Hightail pieces are vintage African cloth. It takes weeks to hand weave and dye the fabric. Traditionally these textiles are worn as wraps or for ceremony. I work with a man from Africa who imports them here to the U.S.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THE LOCAL CUSTOMER/SHOP EXPERIENCE
I love being able to identify the intention behind the product. I love connecting with the source, the community that builds, and how it broadens my world by learning about others.