Creativity – In the Studio with Emmie Howard of Southern Proper

Oct 14 2015

by Whitney Long

In this series on The Southern C, readers get to “meet” many of the interesting and creative Southern entrepreneurs we know online through our social network and also in “real life” at The Southern C Summits.  These individuals are the CEO’s, founders, creative directors, artists, designers, makers and doers that are shaping our landscape with their vision and ingenuity.  Take a peek into their day to day life, find out what they are working on, discover their “a-ha” moment and gain insight into what motivates and inspires their work and lives.

The subjects and their niche may vary but many share the paradoxical traits of creative individuals – they daydream, observe, ask big questions, people watch, seek new experiences, view life as an opportunity for self-expression, take risks and bounce back all while following their true passions.  We hope you will be inspired as we spotlight the creativity that abounds in our region.  According to Einstein, “Creativity is contagious”, and this is one thing we are happy to spread.

This week, I am excited to introduce our Coterie to Emmie Howard, the brain behind the popular lifestyle brand Southern Proper. Style, tradition and authenticity are the pillars on which Southern Proper is based, and established it as the original preppy, Southern-inspired line of clothing, neckties, bow ties and accessories for men and women. Founded in 2005 with corporate roots in Atlanta, Southern Proper successfully marries an appreciation for heritage with fashion… a match made in closet Heaven!

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Emmie Howard, Southern Proper

Describe your brand/business: 

Since 2005, Southern Proper has not only been the truly authentic clothing brand for gentlemen, but has worked to spread Southern culture across the country. The South is best known for it’s charm and grace, and these are the pillars that have built a ten-year brand legacy.

As we celebrate this 10-year style milestone, we introduce an anniversary collection that honors our bow tie beginnings and pioneers new products that are deeper than our Southern accents. We are also excited to introduce our new ladies line that captures new fashioned trends with classic styling and details.


What did you want to be when you grew up and how has your background influenced your work?

In 7th grade, I asked for a personalized leather brief case for Christmas and I filled that brief case with ideas, magazine clippings, and inspiration for whatever tickled my fancy at the time. I believe I knew then, that in some form or “fashion” I would go on to run a wonderful business!

Also, my family’s farming roots in the Tennessee Delta have always influenced my business. From wearing our Sunday best to our everyday farm clothes, we certainly capture the essence of an authentic background. As a result, some of our products are named after people and places from my hometown.


Describe a typical day in the life of Emmie Howard:

As an entrepreneur, every day is different so it keeps me on my toes, but a few things remain constant… I always start with coffee and spending some time with River, our black Lab. Then, it’s off to the office to take on the day. Some days are filled with phone calls, store visits and meetings… other days I am off to photo shoots and product creation.

We also have a tradition in our office of playing the song of the day… we shuffle my iPod and see what comes on. Music can be quite the motivator and I love to get our team energized to take on the day!



Any “a-ha” moment that made you take the leap?

If my friends and family could describe me, I think you would certainly hear the word “preppy”.   I think some of my traditional style is reflected in Southern Proper and this interest encouraged me to take the plunge. I also was encouraged by my husband and family to simply “GO FOR IT” when the idea for Southern Proper was born.



Favorite biz tool, apps, artists or business books?

Apps: Delta, Uber and Jetsetter are my go to travel apps and keep me in motion.

Book: Women, Work & The Art of Savoir Faire by Mireille Guiliano


Where do you find inspiration? Any blogs, magazines or person?

My humble beginnings certainly serves as an inspiration for our business and culture. Home truly is where the heart is and it’s where I learned that style was more than just how you looked, but how you acted, too!

Our product is inspired by people, places and events from around the South which has always had its own unique sophistication.  We try to capture that in a fun and authentic way.  If it’s not Southern in its roots, it is not Southern Proper.



The rare day off – what do you do to unwind?

My husband and I are movie buffs and often enjoy a night out at the movies. I  am also a firm believer that “to eat well is to live well”  so we love trying new restaurants with friends and family.


Best business advice you ever received?

There is power in saying “Thank you” and “I’m sorry”.

“Business is in the details” is another great piece of advice.



What’s in the future for Southern Proper

 We want to be a family brand that represents quality and the spirit of the South… a brand that is poised to properly dress ladies and gentlemen from their early teens and twenties and mature with them as they go through the seasons of life. With the addition of our ladies line and adding to our young boys collection, we are transcending generations.  Also, be on the look out for a new special collection that takes SoPro style up another level… just like your grandmother’s silver.


Fast Five Favorites:

Book – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Movie – The Goonies & Steel Magnolias

Quote – “Be great, be gracious, be grateful”

Southern City – Oxford, MS

SEC Team – I’m loyal to the entire SEC… nothing else like it!

*To celebrate Southern Proper’s 10th anniversary, check out @thesouthernc Instagram on Saturday morning for a fun giveaway!*


Whitney Wise Long, co-founder of The Southern C and The Southern C Summit, loves to connect with Southern entrepreneurs and learn more about their creative endeavors.

This series – “In the Studio With” – offers her the perfect opportunity to do so! 

For more of Whitney’s Southern Creatives Q&A’s click the names below:

107 Market Street

Cathie Parmelee

Lauren Lail

Gunner and Lux

Katherine Sandoz

Deane Hebert

Katherine Frankstone

Caroline Reehl Boykin

Vaughn Dorrian

Emily Stroud

Jordan Jarvis Hughes

Heather Lancaster

Suzanne LeRoux

Sarah Schell Swinson

Julianne Taylor

Whitney Herndon

Barbara Cobb 

Andrea Gray Harper

Emily Bargeron

Katherine Mullins McDonald

Erin Gregory

Harrison Blackford

Amy Kinslow

Twine & Twig

Meredith Anne Sutton


Whitney Long View More Blog Posts from this Author

Whitney Long is co-founder of The Southern C and The Southern C Summit. Mama x 4, wife x 1. Entrepreneur, thinker, doer, writer, researcher, believer. Enjoys working alongside creative entrepreneurs to build community while supporting established and upcoming brands. Hobbies include travel, reading, bike rides and clever craft cocktails.

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