I can always tell when the younger half of the brain trust that is Billykirk, Kirk Bray, is coming my way. His long gait, his signature frames, and his smile, wide as Tennessee, bound towards me, always ready with a firm handshake and a story that will have me on the floor. Kirk is the type of guy who can’t help but endear himself to everyone he meets. With the lessons gleaned from his mother, he could open a charm school.
My mother, or “Momma” as I call her, is a Southern Belle, a Debutante. She came from an era and a place where women went to finishing school to prepare for cultural activities and marriage. That mentality has carried on throughout her life. Her love for clothes and personal appearance, in many ways, led me to study clothing design in college, though I didn’t realize it at the time. Growing up, there were days when my brother and I, bored out of our minds, would spend hours in the fabric store while mom would page through pattern books and touch bolt after bolt of fabric looking to make up our new clothes. But now with our company, Billykirk one of my favorite things to do is source new fabrics to design for an upcoming season.
As a toddler she would dress me in these outrageous pastel suits with shorts and saddle shoes. That won’t happen again, at least not a suit jacket with shorts, I couldn’t pull that off again. Anyway, she always wanted to make sure we looked our best. Our appearance was a reflection on her and our family and it wasn’t before long that we took pride in that too. Many of the style choices I made growing up had good intentions but came up way short. Long before I discovered the J. Crew catalog, my style was filled with bleach blond hair and sweaters that could have fit four of me…I am after all, a product of the 70’s and 80’s… I didn’t know any better, but at least I tried, and I still am trying.