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Vassallo: Ole Miss Alum Finds His Niche

Sid Mashburn, all pictures courtesy
Sid Mashburn, all pictures courtesy

Sid Mashburn is quite a success story who was influenced by a great a number of individuals, many from his days at Ole Miss. Sid is now soaring in business and here’s yet another example of how student life in Oxford has propelled a great career.

HottyToddy.com: Sid, before we start talking business, tell our readers about your life as an Ole Miss Rebel.

Located in Washington D.C.
Located in Washington D.C.

Sid Mashburn: I probably should have been thrown out of school every day, but somehow made it through. I was an English major, which primarily gave me a knowledge base of books I shoulda read as well as the ability to get a decent start on the Sunday NYT crossword. Frankly, I really didn’t know what I was doing or what was ahead — but I knew God had a plan.

There were some really important people in Oxford that cared for me, influenced me, taught me…without even knowing it. My frat brothers, people like Mike Seligman (the owner of The Gin who I’m sure thought I was a knucklehead,) the Morgan brothers, Doreen Fowler in the English department, Richard Howorth (Square Books opened while I was there and to me it is one of the world’s coolest shops), Margaret Gorove (the very encouraging Art Chair at the time)… They probably have no idea how influential they were to me, but they made Ole Miss and Oxford really great & really special.

Located in Dallas
Located in Dallas, Texas

HottyToddy.com: I believe you grew up in Brandon? Why did you choose Ole Miss?

Sid Mashburn: It kinda chose me. There were very few people from Brandon that went to Ole Miss, probably less than a dozen. But I hung around some guys from Jackson that were mostly Ole Miss bound. There was definitely no grand plan. Midway through I tried to leave to go to fashion school in New York but thankfully (now) my Dad wasn’t buying that…yet.

HottyToddy.com: In your opinion, the future of Ole Miss football is?

Sid Mashburn: I think it’s pretty great. From my limited vantage I love the lessons of the hiring of Hugh Freeze along with what he’s doing with the program and the players there…building men (from the inside out) and winning games. I didn’t think he was the best candidate for the job when he was originally chosen, but knew there were a lot of guys smarter than me that had helped to hire him. And as it winds up, they made a fantastic choice on so many levels.

Located in Houston
Located in Houston, Texas

HottyToddy.com: How often do you and your family get to Oxford?

Sid Mashburn: Not often enough.

HottyToddy.com: Compared to the 1990s, are more men wearing suits today or fewer?

Sid Mashburn: Strangely, probably fewer, but the men that are wearing them have a higher level of consciousness about what they’re wearing…the cut, the fit, the quality, the fabric, etc.

HottyToddy.com: What led you to the men’s clothing business?

Sid Mashburn: I was always into clothes — my sisters & my brother who were 10-plus years older than me and dressed in a late 60s, early 70s vibe. Also, my grandparents owned a dry-goods store, too, so retail was kind of in my blood, and I knew I’d want to incorporate both. When it comes to design, I moved to New York after college and started in retail sales & moved onto the wholesale business, learning how to design after hours from my boss, Robert Lighton who founded British Khaki and taught me the construction and technique to make those ideas real pieces. I became the first menswear designer at J.Crew in 1985, which, at the time, was a small catalog startup in New Jersey (reverse commute) and then was recruited by Ralph Lauren himself to design at Polo. After that — I did stints at Tommy Hilfiger and Lands’ End before starting my own thing with my wife here in Atlanta. Four stores and a website later, I’m still really into clothes.

Located in Dallas, Texas
Located in Dallas, Texas

HottyToddy.com: The state of retailing competing with the Internet is being forecast currently?

Sid Mashburn: You know, it’s about service, so we just want to reach people wherever they are — while we have a website, we see it as a complement rather than competition with our brick and mortar shops. We’ve been able to reach customers from all over the country that may not have the chance to visit our shops in person… we’re not in Oxford yet, but would love to be someday…you never know? No website will ever replace the in-store experience, but in 2016, we think we need both to grow and to be successful — they can be great in different ways.

HottyToddy.com: You have been quite successful. Can you describe your stores as of now?

Sid Mashburn: First of all, any success I have is because of my wife, my girls, my parents, my sisters, all the people I’ve crossed paths with, especially the people that chose to come work with us and of course by a gift from God – we have been extremely fortunate. All of our shops have a similar vibe, but aren’t carbon copies of each other… we see them like siblings. All have great product, great people, great music, and a great vibe (we also like to include a ping pong table – most everybody likes to play ping pong). We want it to feel like a frat where everyone gets a bid. We work really hard to make the shopping environment as pleasant and cool and engaging as possible for the customer… whether you like clothes or not. If you want to hang out and have a Coke and talk about shoes (or SEC football) all day, we can do that — but we can also kit you out with an excellent wardrobe and get you out the door and let you get on with your day, if shopping isn’t your thing.

Located in Atlanta, Georgia
Located in Atlanta, Georgia

HottyToddy.com: Being based in Atlanta, what future markets (if you can say) are you contemplating?

Sid Mashburn: We’ve had a little growth spurt recently and opened two stores within the past two months, bringing our total to four (Atlanta, Houston, Washington DC, and Dallas). We’re looking at the West Coast and the Northeast next… we’ll see.

HottyToddy.com: Shifting gears to fashion, will men be wearing ties in 2020?

Sid Mashburn: Absolutely!

HottyToddy.com: Are most men’s clothing purchases by females?

Sid Mashburn: Probably, but not in our shops. You’d be surprised how deep a lot of guys want to go when it clothes — and not necessarily about the fashion component, more the technical stuff. Guys like to pop the hood, and that includes clothes: stitches per inch, the process of benchmade shoes, the technique behind a hand-rolled tie, the canvassing on a suit….! I could go on all day. I wouldn’t be in business if guys didn’t care about their clothes.

Located in Washington D.C.
Located in Washington D.C.

HottyToddy.com: Describe one of your typical retail outlets including square footage.

Sid Mashburn: They are a very personal expression of Ann’s and my life. All are combined men’s and women’s doors (Sid Mashburn and Ann Mashburn) and about 6000 sf. All have kind, caring people, music (mostly vinyl), ping-pong, books, expert Tailors in an open air-tailor shop (we offer gratis alterations for life with all purchases), life tools, a mix of modern and antique furniture, seagrass flooring, kilim rugs, wood and brass fixtures, a few surprises… and we’ll always offer someone a refreshment or help with ANYTHING they need (our own version of concierge service). We like it to feel like we’re welcoming customers into our home, so it has to feel easy and real.

Steve Vassallo

Steve Vassallo is a HottyToddy.com contributor. Steve writes on Ole Miss athletics, Oxford business, politics and other subjects. He is an Ole Miss grad and former radio announcer for the basketball team. Currently, Steve is a highly successful leader in the real estate business who lives in Oxford with his wife Rosie. You can contact Steve at sovassallo@gmail.com or call him at 985-852-7745.

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