Ally Smith & Dynamite Athens: #ThankGodForInstagram
Originally published at www.exploreathens.online on April 11, 2016.
It’s three years ago. I’m a UGA freshman holed up in my dorm room, mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. Caught in a black hole of Insta-stalking (we’ve all been there), I emerge roughly 45 minutes later to have discovered the vintage shop of my dreams (and it’s within walking distance!!!). The name is Dynamite and 70 posts in I’ve convinced myself to venture downtown with a friend to find this to-die-for store.
Things have never been the same since.
Around a year before that, Ally Smith, then-freshman at UGA, did a similar thing. She went in to Dynamite to check out the new arrivals, ended up buying “an awesome rubix cube necklace”, and asked owner Lori for the store’s Instagram handle. Lori replied with, “What’s Instagram?”
(I know, I couldn’t believe it either.)
Naturally, Ally did what any sensible millennial would do and immediately gave Lori the low down on the up-and-coming social media platform of choice for those wishing to hone their visual ~aesthetic~.
Ally walked out of the store feeling like she had Lori convinced, but she still didn’t feel satisfied. She marched right back in to Dynamite and said, “I would love to be your intern. You don’t have to pay me. I love your store. I would love to get your Instagram started.”
That’s how Ally Smith became part of the Dynamite Athens crew. Her life hasn’t really been the same since. “I didn’t really do fashion stuff before I started working there,” Ally says, and makes sure to qualify with another statement of affection for the little vintage store that brought her unbeatable friends, life-affirming work, and excellent exposure to the Athens fashion scene.
But now, Ally definitely DOES fashion. She’s coordinated fashion shows for My Athens, worked with Athens Fashion Collective, and now designs her own pieces. She collaborates with friends and fellow creatives on blogs, photoshoots, and events. Ally isn’t merely a part of the Athens fashion scene, she helps shape it every day.
Since joining Dynamite’s team, Ally’s personal style has taken off in previously unimaginable directions. When I interviewed her for this piece, she had a bit of trouble pinning down exactly how she makes her style her own, but that’s the awesome part about Ally’s style. She’s not afraid to box herself into a corner. She likes ice blue and baby pink, baggy jeans with leotards, any animal print you throw at her. She likes all these things, all at the same time, and she wears them all — and always kills it.
Ally is modest about her own style but raves about her friends in an adoring, fangirl-esque way I can definitely appreciate. It’s not hard to rave like that when your best friends are fellow #DynaGal/store manager Rachel Barnes and #DynaGuy Trevor Blake. Two of the most stylized dressers in Athens, Ally describes Rachel as having “insane style” and Trev as the “flyest guy I know”. When the three of them get together, I’m sure they’re unstoppable. (Actually I KNOW they are… #ThankGodForInstagram)
It’s Dynamite’s 15th anniversary this year, so I asked Ally where she sees Dynamite in 15 years and where she sees herself in 15 years. Though she may not be too sure about her own plans, she’s fully confident in the power of Athens, its people, and its fashion scene for a thriving future for Dynamite. She ponders the idea of a Dynamite sister store or expansion, but confidently expresses the original Dynamite will never leave its beloved spot on Jackson St.
Within the next 15 years, Ally sees herself leaving her own little plot of Athens land for the chance to travel and live in new places, possibly even abroad. But she knows she’ll be back in Georgia eventually. The draw of Dynamite, of the friends and family who made her into the stylish, bold, ambitious woman she is today, that’s what will bring Ally back to Athens.