Long Live Handmade: The Power of Paisley Hamilton

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story and photos by Lindsay Pace

Paisley Hamilton is fluent in gratitude. She celebrates the power in it – power from claiming worth and intention over one’s life. Power made vivid by color and earth. At her conscious-goods shop, the Serendipity Hippie, she welcomes the community into her benevolent magic.

She realized Starkville needed something “a little bit spirited, and a little bit soulful,” but the shop really began when she was little. A friend sent her a box of freshly-mined crystals, and their iridescence enchanted her.

“It was the best thing that ever happened. [The crystals] have always been in my life, but it wasn’t until I started to find myself in college that I got into the spirituality that comes along with the elements,” she said. “I feel most like Paisley, most like myself, when I’m surrounded with different kinds of Earth.”

Hamilton’s early travels laid the groundwork for her shop. In her 20s, she identified with the free-spiritedness found in the Appalachians and the determination of native Peruvian women. She realized, though, that the qualities she loves about herself – the things she carries with her still – were made in Mississippi.

“Our community is awesome. They’re really warm and welcoming, and I realized that’s not something you get everywhere,” she said. “So if that’s something that you value, then you don’t have to bring sand down to the beach. You’re already at it.”

A journeyman in textile, Hamilton often spends late nights at the shop dyeing fabric or grading patterns, “loving on” pieces that feel resistant or difficult. Especially then, she makes use of her gratitude and grit.

“I’m like a tech designer. It’s very detailed, very involved. It’s like architecture, like building something from the ground up,” she said.  “You’re using a 2-D [pattern] to fit a body that’s 3-D. So you’ve got to be really, really inclined to make it work.”

Because Hamilton’s work is handmade from start to finish, her pieces are truly one-of-a-kind. They range from wire-wrapped crystal jewelry to handmade “Magic Carpet” bell bottoms, and are largely inspired by India and Indonesia. Fabric dyes with names like “Supernova,” imbue Mother Earth’s essence into her artistry.

“I try to create and offer things that you want to take with you, no matter what walk of life you’re in. Things that aren’t necessarily seasonal, they’re not necessarily trendy,” she said. “They’re timeless.”

Hamilton also instills a spirit of connectedness into her work. While designing, she remembers the person it will adorn. She prioritizes their comfort. She hopes to empower them. Her joy for customers is preconceived, personal.

“Long live handmade,” she said. “Handmade holds power.”


Hamilton enjoys collaborating with local artists. She lovingly calls the screenprinters at Copy Cow her “best friends,” and her shop is filled with ornaments like beeswax candles from a craftsman in West Point. 

She didn’t always see herself in league with them, though. Advertising her grand opening in 2017 meant showcasing her work publicly and addressing her self-image as an artist. That seemed terrifying. 

“It was like this voice said, ‘If you don’t believe in yourself, you can’t expect somebody else to,’” she recalls. “And I try to relay that message, because if you believe in what you’re doing, and you’re passionate in who you are and what you’ve got going on, then people will be interested. You can’t deny love and good passion.”

Customers, especially new ones, anticipate Hamilton’s wealth of spiritual knowledge. “Start with what you’re drawn to,” she’ll say. Perhaps that’s green tea incense or a rose quartz crystal, but to her, it only matters that their intrigue is sparked. What resonates will be a conduit for peace.

 Some are jolted by this sort of witchiness, but she thinks everybody could use a good wake-up now and then. After all, she believes magic is inherent in everyone. It simply has to be embraced. 

And when magic is made, it might be audible.

“Every now and then, somebody will let out a little holler in the parking lot [after their experience at Serendipity Hippie], and that melts me,” she said. “That is the most beautiful, those two: the entrance and the exit.”

Hamilton welcomes the offbeat, the underdog, the unusual – those who are bright in color and unafraid of it. To her, allowing one’s truth to “light the way” means recognizing that believing in oneself can be hard. But when one does, they stop denying their power. They step into abundance. And she’ll be there to join them.

“Whatever pathway leads you to the light, I’ll meet you there,” she said. 

 

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