Log in Subscribe

Southern Junction opens in Wartrace

Shop offers unique designs

By ZOË WATKINS - zwatkins@t-g.com
Posted 11/29/22

Amie Diprima was a middle school language arts teacher in Rome, Georgia with a side business, Amie J & Co, which she ran online beginning 11 years ago. 

It began when she started making …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Southern Junction opens in Wartrace

Shop offers unique designs


Amie Diprima was a middle school language arts teacher in Rome, Georgia with a side business, Amie J & Co, which she ran online beginning 11 years ago. 

It began when she started making gifts as Christmas presents for friends, who quickly encouraged her to make and sell more.  

“March of the next year I went ahead and put them on a marketplace listing at 11 o’clock at night. Woke up the next day and I had 17 orders. I thought, this is going to do well,” Diprima recalled.  

She sold ornaments and decorative lights before starting print designs. When popularity for the designs grew, she ordered a heat press that night.  

That side hustle turned into a blossoming business, which allowed Diprima to leave teaching four years ago to run it full-time.  

Today, she and her partner Mike McPherson own Southern Junction, a t-shirt print shop, in Wartrace. For Diprima and McPherson, they say Wartrace just became like home.  

“We’ve just really become involved in the community,” said Diprima. “We want this town to be a destination...We want people to come here and enjoy the town, go home, and come back next weekend.”  

Both McPherson and Diprima serve as active members of the Wartrace Chamber of Commerce.  

And the Town of Wartrace, along with its residents and visitors alike, has certainly proven to be a unique place of inspiration—even down to the name Southern Junction, which comes from the railroad that runs right in front of the store.  

“I love being able to tell people, ‘You can only find the design here,’” said Diprima.  

“I do all the prints and all the design,” she said. They have two rooms set up in the store, so everything is made in-house. And because they use commercial-grade equipment, their designs don’t fade or wash away easily.  

“I’ve always been a creative person...but doing it like this was a little bit of a learning process.”  

Diprima designs with sublimation, which is an ink that turns into a gas when heated, thus staining the threads of the cloth.  

Learning the process didn’t happen overnight. Diprima said she researched the methods for two years before purchasing the equipment.  

“It’s all just a constant learning process. It’s about finding new methods, ways, and products,” she said.  

Diprima says she keeps up with the latest designs, like leopard print wording. But you have to make sure you have enough of your own design so as not to infringe on anyone else’s design.  

“I try to keep a unique edge to it,” she said.  

That creative edge comes from catering to what her customers want versus what she likes.  

And she gets help from McPherson, who’s had his own unique career path.  

Originally from Mt. Juliet, McPherson moved to Wartrace to escape the “big city” atmosphere.  

Growing up, McPherson’s dad worked at a funeral home, which led McPherson to go into mortuary science and work at a funeral home beginning at age 19. “I did my senior term paper on caskets. I was just weird, I guess,” McPherson said with a tinge of that wry humor he’s known for.  

He worked in the death industry for almost 20 years in addition to having a crime scene cleanup business. “When I started, I wasn’t quite ready for it. I couldn’t eat lunch; I would tear up during funerals. And then I realized, it’s not for you, it’s for them. You’re supposed to be strong for them,” McPherson said.  

But, like Amie, he also had a side hustle—elevator inspector. He recalled back in 2010 how he had an acquaintance who was an elevator and escalator inspector, who got him interested in it. He said he started as a tool carrier before going back to school to become an inspector. Now, he is the State of Tennessee’s Chief Elevator Inspector.  

Differing careers aside, Diprima and McPherson work as great creative partners.  

“I’m creative, just in a different way,” McPherson said.  

“And then I’ll tweak the design,” added Diprima. “We’re able to appreciate each other’s unique attributes we bring here.”  

That’s how the “wiener muffin” came to be.  

McPherson found a recipe for cornbread muffins with hotdogs in them. They made some and brought extras to their friends over at the Iron Horse pizza parlor in Wartrace. After tweaking the recipe and giving away the muffins to neighbors around town, Diprima said, “It got to the point people would see us out and say ‘Wiener Muffin!”  

So, Diprima and McPherson designed a shirt for the muffins and had “people lined up for it,” Diprima recalled. Now they see their designs for the wiener muffin from Manchester to Gatlinburg.  

But that’s just one of their bestsellers. They also do personalization, such as printing a grandmother’s recipe on a kitchen towel or making pillows out of a loved one’s old shirts.  

“I’ve always needed a creative outlet,” said Diprima. “I love it when someone comes in with this idea and I can make it for them, and it comes to life.”  

Southern Junction is located in downtown Wartrace. For more information, visit their Facebook page, Southern Junction.