Trying to keep up with Amanda Valentine is a lot like trying to catch a hummingbird.
It's no wonder the 32 year old made the cut for the grueling demands required of Project Runway Season 11 contestants. When she's not working on her couture collections, creating her own T-shirts, or designing iPhone cases, she's styling some of Nashville's finest for print and video.
"It can be a struggle," Valentine admits, "juggling 60 hours of styling and 30 hours of designing a week. I come from a family of Type A overachievers but my parents did an amazing job of encouraging all of us [Amanda is the youngest of five with two brothers and two sisters] in whatever we wanted to do. They took our youthful hobbies very seriously."
Her brother James had a big part to play in Valentine's destiny as well. " I followed my brother to Los Angeles when his band won The Battle of the Bands. I actually dated one of the guys, then broke up with him, and that broke up the band. It was hilarious." James Valentine went on to be Maroon 5's lead guitarist, and Amanda got an opportunity to style the band in one of their videos. "This was all pre Rachael Zoe, before anybody really knew what a stylist was. I got the opportunity to shadow their stylist and I thought, 'I can do this'.
Valentine then learned the ropes from some of the best stylists in Los Angeles, "There wasn't a course, you know, that you could take. But I learned so much from them and I figured out it's a great career."
A former boyfriend convinced her to move to Nashville after two years of coaxing. "I had never really heard about Nashville. I didn't really know anything about it. I visited several times and then something clicked. It just felt right. I feel like Nashville splits the difference between Los Angeles and Nebraska."
Valentine thinks the fashion scene in Nashville is evolving "I think a lot of people think that Nashville is only about a certain style, because that's what's been really successful. But it's important to show people that we're not just rhinestones and denim. I think that Nashville's men are some of the best dressed men in the country. That whole aesthetic [Americana Hipster movement] left a lot to be desired for women, but I think it's really done a lot for men. The suspenders, the belts, the hats have really elevated men's style. So now I think it's the ladies' turn for a movement! The more time goes by the more diverse the style is getting. "
Amanda tries to push the envelope with her styling clients as often as she can. "It's still tough, because I'm working with record labels or people who are afraid to take risks if they have a certain look that is a proven success. So it's hard to get people to work outside their comfort zones. But every job I have I try to push at least one little thing. Maybe it's a different kind of jacket or a different kind of a jean. I kind of baby step."
With a philosophy like this Nashville style will only improve with every look Amanda has her hand in styling.
Next time I'll introduce you to some of Amanda's previous couture collections. Don't forget there's still time for you to enter to win an exclusive Double Pyramid Evil Eye T-shirt here.
Photos courtesy of Amanda Valentine.