They’re both Nashville natives, they both went to the University of Tennessee and they have a passion for helping women and girls.
Brooke Tometich and Mattie Selecman formed the social enterprise company called “Nasheville.” Yes, that extra ‘e’ is supposed to be there.
Nasheville is at first glance, an apparel company for women. But the clothing is simply a vehicle to their mission, which is helping victims of sex-trafficking, widows and orphans.
“So we launched at the end of October, and one door after another opening for us. We really believe this is a divine mission, and all we want to do is give back to those people, those three groups that at some stage in their life can’t help themselves. We obviously do that financially, so we have 3 partners we work with, ministries for orphans, widows and trafficked women. And so portions of profits go back there. So when you buy any of our Nasheville swag or attire, it goes there,” said co-founder, Mattie Selecman.
But the founders themselves have truly compelling, heartbreaking and inspirational stories that lead them not only to each other, but to Nasheville.
After attending the University of Tennessee, Brooke knew what she wanted to do with her life: She wanted to be a hairstylist. But that career quickly took on a life of it’s own. “I just started having all these clients, they became my best friends, I’d come home and my husband would say, you’ve been gone for 14 hours and you’ve lost money. And I’m like, but ‘Becky’s husband left her and Debra’s son is in trouble…’ So, it really wasn’t a business for me, it was more like a ministry. You know when you sit down with your hairstylist, you’re telling them everything,” says Brooke. So, she decided to get her degree in counseling.
Her personal life was changing as well, when she and her husband decided to adopt.
“That absolutely wrecked our lives in the most beautiful way possible. We didn’t know a lot about adoption, we knew we always just wanted to complete our family that way. So we got really close with our birth mom, it was a really hard adoption,” she says. From then on, Brooke knew helping orphans would be a cause close to her heart.
“Through being close with our birth mom, who is only 17, I just knew that that’s when girls decide what kind of woman they want to be, is when they are 16. I just fell in love with that age range. So I started working with 16 and 17-year-olds, at our church. Just hearing their stories and just doing life with them, it started to become a ministry to their moms as well.”
Yet Brooke found herself at another crossroads in life, being pulled in different directions and wanting more.
“So every day I was waking up I was living my life in these quadrants. I had beauty and hair which was so much fun, then I had the marketing world, then I had my teens and then I had adoption. So I just kept thinking, if I had a way to just combine all of those, life would be perfect. It would be complete, I wouldn’t feel like I was giving 1/4th of myself to each of these. So I started just racking my brain for what could make all of these things collide. and the word that just kept getting put on my heart was ‘she.’ I didn’t know what that meant I didn’t know what to do with it, but everyone that meets me from all over the country, they say you are so Nashville. I’m like you know what, that’s a compliment! I love Nashville! So the word Nasheville was born in my brain. But what do you do with a word like that? I didn’t know what it meant,” says Brooke.
Brooke met with a consultant who told her a blog was the next logical step, but since writing was the one thing Brooke wasn’t crazy about, she reached out to an old friend. That friend was Mattie Selecman, who at the time, didn’t know just how much she needed to be connected to Brooke.
Mattie has worked as a food and wine writer and a restaurant owner in Nashville, until she decided to close her restaurant without knowing what would come next.
“I just felt this climate building of, I really need to work and write to encourage and empower women. I didn’t know what that looked like, that really broke and tested my faith,” says Mattie.
Mattie and Brooke met up and that’s when Nasheville was formed.
“I’ve never seen clearer neon lights from the Lord, like drop everything, this is your step. This is your place. So I said I don’t know why, I’ve never adopted a child, I don’t yet have children, but I’m here and I want to be a voice for these children. We sort of started flushing out some things about our mission. We went back to scripture, we are both really strong in our faith, and it was just everywhere you see orphans, which obviously was on Brooke’s heart, you see take care of orphans and widows. I said, OK, well God says, it, so that’s good enough for me. That will be our mission,” says Mattie.
Brooke and Mattie wanted to expand their mission, to a cause Mattie and her husband were passionate about: human trafficking. “We ended up also integrating human trafficking and trafficked women as our sort of part of our ministry. It’s a tremendous problem in Nashville, it’s heartbreaking because a lot of people don’t know about it,” she says.
Little did Mattie know, starting up a new company and taking on this challenge would be bootcamp for the greatest tragedy in her life.
“So this is July and we’ve lined up all these core groups to educate on and give back financially and we are ready to go, then my husband dies of a traumatic brain injury in September. It’s a story you don’t want to write but it doesn’t seem real. All of a sudden I was this voice for these people, and now I am that person to speak truth and walk this walk just as Brooke walked her adoption walk. And say, this is happening to more and more young people,” says Mattie.
Since the launch of Nasheville in October, Brooke and Mattie have seen door after door open. “We really believe this is a divine mission, and all we want to do is give back to those people, those three groups that at some stage in their life can’t help themselves. We obviously do that financially, so we have three partners we work with, ministries for orphans, widows and trafficked women. And so portions of profits go back there,” says Mattie.
Mattie and Brooke want Nasheville to be inclusive to all women, whether they’ve been victims of their three core causes or not. “I have such a passion for women who are starting businesses. Whatever they are starting, I really love to help them get that off the ground. We want to be able to have that platform for Sally who is starting a flower shop, that we can say, this is why she started it, this is what she overcame to start it,” says Brooke. “Really, we just want to be a voice for women, no matter what your age is.”
Nasheville is not political and Mattie and Brooke say it’s also not anti-men. “We don’t think you have to step on men to make women rise. We love our men, and they are very important to us. We are honoring her (Mattie’s) husband, Ben through this. We just wanted to have a great time with girls and hear their stories,” says Brooke.
“People said, why an apparel brand, and we said what’s more of a conversation starter or a walking billboard than cute clothes,” says Brooke.
“It’s not hard to give back through this business, it’s not hard to give back through Nasheville. All you do is support us and wear our stuff. There’s kind of this old antiquated assumption that to give back or to serve you have to give something up, or it’s very laboring, or time intensive or it’s just not fun. And this is just easy and fun. It’s just cute stuff. And athleisure is in,” says Mattie.
This is just the beginning for Nasheville. They have plans to launch a podcast to share stories of women overcoming obstacles and turning beauty into ashes. Future ‘she’ cities are also in the works.