Sisters Olivia Carswell and Liz Samuels love experiencing all the local shops, eateries and landmarks that Franklin has to offer.
They wanted to share their mutual appreciation of Franklin with others, so in June 2017 the sisters launched an Instagram page called @LivingFranklin. It quickly surpassed 1,000 followers.
The name “Living Franklin” is derived from a phrase they’d frequently say while experiencing Franklin together.
“We’d be sipping our Frothy Monkey coffees downtown and we’d say, ‘We’re really living Franklin today,' ” Samuels said.
In addition to sharing photographs and stories on Instagram about what makes Franklin so special, the sisters are now launching Living Franklin as a lifestyle brand.
“Living Franklin offers a young and fresh take on Franklin. We want to showcase the history of Franklin but with a young flair,” Carswell said. “We will have products ranging from hand-picked home decor to an in-house brand highlighting the classic elegance of downtown Franklin.”
“We have Living Franklin apparel (t-shirts, hats, sweatshirts), mugs and we’ve created a signature Living Franklin scented candle,” Samuels said.
Originally the sisters thought the brand would solely launch online, but what started as a casual conversation with Graeme Asch, owner of Franklin Mercantile Deli, quickly developed into the girls’ dream opportunity to open a storefront in the space behind the deli, which previously debuted retail businesses including The Cocoa Tree and Ivey Cake bakery.
“Each Saturday we will have a Living Franklin flower cart outside with bouquets of flowers for sale. We will also have a gallery wall featuring a local artist each month,” Samuels said.
“We want to use our store as an opportunity to bring the community together,” Carswell added.
Carswell and her husband Stephen relocated to Franklin from the Atlanta area in 2012. She fell in love with Franklin immediately but she missed her family and friends.
An interior designer by trade, Carswell busied herself with home renovation projects and worked at Redo Home and Design (then located on the square, it has since relocated to Sidco Drive in Nashville).
“I was the ‘shop girl’ at Redo, which was a great opportunity for me to use my designing skills while meeting new people,” Carswell said.
Carswell successfully recruited her sister to move to Franklin in 2014.
Within a month of moving, Liz met the man who would become her husband. She married Steven Samuels in 2015.
“We both married men named Steven but one spells it with a ‘ph’ and one with a ‘v’,” Samuels said. “My Steven has a beard so we just call him, ‘Beard.’”
The sisters said this coincidence is one of many similarities and concurrences that seem to fill their lives.
In late 2016 they discovered another happy little coincidence — both of them were pregnant, and their due dates were just three weeks apart.
On July 26, 2017, Stephen and Olivia Carswell welcomed their daughter, Ivy Love, into the world. Three days later, Steven and Liz Samuels’ son, Reed William, arrived two weeks before his due date.
“I think witnessing Ivy’s birth sent me into early labor,” Samuels said.
Olivia Carswell and her daughter Ivy and Liz Samuels and her son Reed pose for a photo in the space that will become Living Franklin Home & Life. (Photo: Angela Folds / For The Tennessean)
For the next six months their Instagram venture took a backseat during a season the sisters call their “baby fog,” yet the page still continued to gain followers even when they weren’t posting new material.
The past six months have been a flurry of activity for the young moms as they curate their brand and renovate their retail space.
In addition to their cash-and-carry inventory, every item in the store will be available for special order, from the light fixtures to the wallpaper and furniture, rugs, etc.
After the grand opening, Living Franklin Home & Life will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday with extended hours offered during special events such as the monthly art crawl and seasonal festivals on downtown Franklin.