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Shining with country stars to boutiques

LeDere opens Old Petticoat Trading Co.

By ZOË HAGGARD - zhaggard@t-g.com
Posted 12/21/21

 “First of all, I have no fear. I’m a visionary, if I might say so,” LeDere said. “Don’t be afraid to be passionate because fear kills creativity.” 

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Shining with country stars to boutiques

LeDere opens Old Petticoat Trading Co.


 Shelia LeDere was born in Nashville to musically and artistically inclined parents. 

 Growing up, she spent Saturday nights at the Grand Ole Opry where her aunt and uncle square danced on stage. While her dad was a praise and worship leader at their church, her mom worked at Werthan Bags Co. in Nashville where she would bring home 80 cent doll clothing patterns for her young daughter. So, at five years old, LeDere began to sew  

 It was the first spark of her life-long creativity. 

 “I was passionate about it. I remember thinking at a really young age, this would look so pretty with fur. I mean, my brain was already working like,” she recalled.  

 California dreaming 

 As a young adult, LeDere started work for Channel 5 in Nashville, working in national sales. It’s where she got in the loop with Nashville entertainers that would later pave the way for a later career. 

 “First of all, I have no fear. I’m a visionary, if I might say so,” LeDere said. “Don’t be afraid to be passionate because fear kills creativity.” 

 Taking that passion and a spark of vision, she moved to California where she studied at College of the Sequoias, taking every art class she could. 

 After graduating, LeDere worked for Eugene McAvoy who was art director for The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour in the mid-70s.  

 “I didn’t design for Cher, but I was there on set,” LeDere said. Being surrounded in that creative atmosphere, LeDere said she was influenced, leading her to work in wardrobe departments while living in California. 

 Rhinestone cowboys and girls 

 In 1985, LeDere made the move back to Nashville and opened a studio and storefront in Hillsboro Village where she designed stage wear.  

 “I just hit it at the right time.” The 80s and 90s were the neotraditional country music era, which produced such stars like Reba McEntire, The Judds, Toby Keith, Tanya Tucker, Brooks and Dunn—all of whom LeDere worked with as an “image consultant.”  

 “I worked with the record labels. They would send their artists to me to create an image,” LeDere said. With a crew of about five ladies she would design, and they would sew.  

 “Also in the store, I had a bootmaker, I had silversmith. We did everything from guitar straps to custom boots to the whole ‘Nashville scene,’” she recalled.   

 It wasn’t overnight though, right? 

 “It really kind of was,” LeDere said with a laugh. “And what’s funny is really the only experience I had was Barbie Dolls, sewing and creating that.” 

 “I was just really blessed. I can't describe it in any other way.” 

 She had the studio until the mid-90s. During that time, LeDere said she also worked backstage of the CMA awards and eventually got to working on a movie set with Ray Stevens.  

 While recently going through some old boxes in the process of moving, LeDere said she came across some leather costumes. She recalled one of her proudest moments, when she with two other ladies, designed and made 30 Native American costumes for Stevens’ movie “Get Serious” (1995) in one night.  

 “We were supposed to do a really simple scene, and I was prepared. I had been prepared for days. But they changed it,” LeDere said. “So, we had to stay up all night making those leather clothes. But that’s an accomplishment—you do it on set and get it done. Then you get to sit back and watch it.”  

 New territory 

 Growing tired of the Nashville Scene, LeDere decided to take another—maybe less creative—direction in her career, working as a Southwest Airline hostess. But after Sept. 11, 2001, LeDere said it was time for another career change.  

 So, she opened a boutique in Lexington, KY, where she had settled after working for Southwest. With her daughter, T.J., they opened Simply Divine Boutique in Lexington and eventually in Murfreesboro. 

 But as her parents began to age, LeDere found she wanted to be closer to them. She bought a six-acre farm in Bell Buckle, which she turned into—unplanned as usual—a wedding venue called Greystone Farms.  

 “It was beautiful. I loved watching the people’s reaction when they walked into it the first time,” LeDere said.  

 Eventually, the farm became a lot to take care of—constant storm damage, an injured horse, downed fences. So, LeDere sold and closed on the farm at the end of December in 2020. 

 Back to boutiques  

 But LeDere was far from being done in the creative realm.  

 After selling Greystone Farm, LeDere decided to buy the downtown shop building that used to be Gallagher Guitars in the little country town of Wartrace.  Passionate about antiques and with her experience of owning boutiques, LeDere opened the Old Petticoat Trading Co., which sells just about anything and a little bit of everything.  

 “This has gone up really fast...I was opened by the 1st of May,” LeDere said. But it’s taken a lot of work. With the help of many local friends, LeDere is chipping away at the building's plaster and wood in a complete remodeling and preservation of the old storefront and shop.  

 Wartrace has proved to be the ideal spot for both LeDere’s home and creativity.  

 “It’s a natural, God-given talent. But I also thrive on other people’s energy, so I surround myself with creative people.” 

 “It’s just a whole different atmosphere. When I came here it just felt so right...I mean, these people have become my family.”  

For more information on the Old Petticoat Tading Co., visit the Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/www.petticoat