Dixon Rye Founder Bradley Odom reinvented himself and his career at 40
Bradley Odom achieved by age 40 what many would consider peak career success. He held the coveted position of director of design education for West Elm and had previously served as director of sales and service for J.Crew.
But he had an itch to own his own niche design service and boutique that began in his 20s and wouldn’t quite go away. So between the demands of his West Elm job, which included lots of travel, he attended four years of graduate school at Savannah College of Art and Design, where he earned a degree in interior design.
“I would finish a class then go straight to the airport and fly to New York, where West Elm is based. It was a crazy four years. I didn’t watch TV or see any friends during that time,” says Odom, who is originally from Mississippi.
He adds, “It was important to me to be legitimate and have an actual design degree, not just a good eye [before opening Dixon Rye].”
In 2015, just a year after graduating, the Toco Hills resident’s vision became a tangible reality. Dixon Rye is a 4,700-square-foot furniture store and full-service interior design firm within Atlanta’s Westside Ironworks development, where an industrial foundry used to operate. The name Dixon Rye is a reflection of the store’s atmosphere in that it is seeped in Southern sensibility—Dixon is derived from the Mason-Dixon Line and Rye from one of Odom’s all-time favorite books, Catcher in the Rye. The design destination exudes a raw yet refined aesthetic and a distinct masculinity that is relaxed with feminine softness and textures. It carries more than 100 brands, including Cisco Brothers, Astier De Villatte and Mad et Len, as well as Odom’s private-label collection that includes luxurious sofas, chairs and a bed, all named after streets or characters in To Kill a Mockingbird.
“I love most that I get to curate an environment of not just products and things, but an experience for the customers walking through the door,” Odom explains. Upon entering, guests are offered something to drink. Typically, new age jazz or Southern rock ’n’ roll is playing, setting the mood for perusing the wares. A staff member offers to sit down on a sofa and discuss design needs. It’s a thoughtful experience.
This year, Odom introduced an online shop, dixonrye.com, showcasing a curated collection of decorative accessories, candles, French ceramics, upholstery, antiques and more. He’s also working on an expanded holiday gift assortment that will focus mostly on accessories and may debut some jewelry. “I like to approach gift assortments from the point of view of ‘one for you, one for me,’” Odom quips.
Odom has certainly learned many lessons since opening Dixon Rye’s doors. One biggie: “I don’t have all the answers. I learn so much from the people I work with and my customers.”
1085 Howell Mill Road N.W., 30318
STORY: Karina Antenucci
Photo: Sarah Dorio