In a store in West Knoxville, you will find boho chic dresses and trendy tops. Altar'd State is all fabulous, all about faith, all about giving back.
Altar'd State's corporate office in Knoxville is where fashion happens, where creative minds come together, where founders Aaron Walters and Brian Mason try to figure out what women want every day.
"The honest to God truth is women move faster than men. There's a lot more excitement in the apparel business when it comes to women. The trends are always changing, colors are always changing," says Walters.
And Brian and Aaron are guy's guys by nature.
"It is comical. I grew up in a five boy family. I'm the smallest of the five boys. We all played college athletics and they give me a hard time from time to time," says Walters.
"We come from very similar backgrounds upbringing with mainstream American values, you learned the value of hard work early," says Mason.
Brian and Aaron both got into the retail world at a young age.
"I was broke as a joke and got a job at Walgreens, fell in love with the retail business," says Walters.
Brian started at a department store. After working in retail for several years in several states, they both found themselves in East Tennessee working in men's apparel for Goody's.
"The financial meltdown came into place and Goody's ended up being challenged through that process," says Walters. "That was pretty traumatic dealing with that and watching people's lives and wondering what was going to be their next step in life."
And that's when Brian and Aaron teamed up to open Altar'd State.
"We opened a store that was half books and we had a coffee shop in there, a coffee and espresso bar," says Mason.
But that didn't stick. "I think that's the secret to life and the secret to business, you have to embrace change," says Walters.
They decided to focus on the ladies. And boy, has this business grown, 23 stores from Knoxville to Washington D.C. to Midland, Texas. The company as a whole is based here and it focuses on faith.
"What really matters is the core of who we are and the core of what our company stands for and we are founded on Christian principles and it's how we deal with each other, how we treat our people, how we run our business," says Mason.
They sell beautiful clothes that also give back.
"Altar'd State brand, which is our own private label brand, a portion of the proceeds go to feed, educate and shelter children around the globe," says Walters. "We also carry TOMS shoes, which for every pair we sell a pair goes to a child in need. I think we are probably at 160,000 to 170,000 pairs of shoes we've given away."
And they pay their employees to give their time too. "We believe as a human being you have to take care of your mind body and soul," says Walters. "Any time I give back, I honestly get more out of it than I gave."
Altar'd State, a company that focuses more on helping others than it does on making a profit and is proud to call East Tennessee home.
"Fell in love with Knoxville, Tennessee. Even though I am a Texas boy, I do call Tennessee home and look forward to raising a family here," says Walters.
"It is a wonderful place to live. The people here are fantastic. You know you've got the mountains and the water and all the natural beauty. We fell in love with it, my wife and I, and decided this is where we wanted to start our family." says Mason.
One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.