We get personal with the Nashville-based singer-songwriter, bestselling author, fashion designer, and entrepreneur.
Jessie James Decker is all over the news these days. Her second album, 2017’s Southern Girl City Lights, made it to the top of the Billboard country charts. Her recent New York Times bestselling lifestyle book, Just Jessie: My Guide to Love, Life, Family, and Food, became an instant must-read. She and her husband — retired NFL wide receiver Eric Decker — run the Eric and Jessie Decker Foundation, which works with service members, veterans, and rescue animals. The couple’s life together with their growing family in Nashville was candidly documented on an E! reality show for three seasons. And in February, Decker opened her first brick-and-mortar store carrying her popular fashion line, Kittenish.
But for her 3 million Instagram followers, she’s just the girl next door.
Decker opened up to C&I about some things the cameras and press coverage might not have caught.
Cowboys & Indians: You’ve lived in Italy, Georgia, Idaho, Florida, Kentucky, Texas, Louisiana, and now Tennessee. Which place feels most like home?
Jessie James Decker: Tennessee. And Nashville, because it’s always been the most consistent place since I did move around so much growing up. My husband grew up in Minnesota, but he fell madly in love with Nashville, too. This is where we want to stay.
C&I: What’s the countriest thing about your life there?
Decker: All the wildlife and deer and turkeys running across our yard all the time. And we’re in the middle of nature. I really am just a Southern girl. It’s just in me. It makes my husband laugh to hear our kids talking with Southern accents.
C&I: What’s behind the name of your apparel line and your new flagship style store in Nashville?
Decker: When I was 15, a woman in the music industry told me that I was very “kittenish,” and I’ve held on to that forever.
C&I: What are some of the most popular items at Kittenish?
Decker: Fan favorites are the jumpsuits and Kittenish logo sweatshirts because they are the softest sweatshirts of all time! Summer favorites are going to be the rompers and more fun, comfy T-shirts, and we have a really cute pair of leopard-print overalls coming.
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C&I: Now that your reality show, Eric & Jessie, is over, what’s the best part of not living with cameras everywhere?
Decker: There is no more stress of coordinating everything, and trying to figure out when the cameras can come because it couldn’t be during naptime, or I wouldn’t want the kids around it all the time. It was exhausting, and it was just a lot. It’s nice to not have that. I’m grateful for the show, but now I feel like that chapter is closed.
C&I: You grew up with a younger sister and brother. Is your daughter, Viv, the same kind of big sister you were? Does she take care of her little brothers, Bub and Forrest?
Decker: She definitely reminds me of me. I was so in love with big-sistering. And she’s the same way. Forrest just started walking, and she is over the moon about it. It’s so great to have the kids have that much love for each other. That’s how we know we’re doing something right.
C&I: You’ve got tons of fans and lots of media coverage. Do you ever Google yourself?
Decker: I used to, but I don’t anymore. I deleted my Twitter app on my phone so I wouldn’t be able to see what people were saying. I’ve really gotten good at that. Now I’m unaware of all that negative energy, and I’m in my own little world and so happy here. I do my best as a person every day and try to spread positive energy.
C&I: Time for some lightning-round questions. First music you bought with your own money:
Decker: Britney Spears’ “... Baby One More Time.”
C&I: Last TV show you binge-watched:
Decker: Insatiable on Netflix.
C&I: Your go-to dinner that everyone loves:
Decker: Seafood gumbo, for sure. I make it weekly. It’s my kids’ favorite and my husband’s favorite. I make it with crab, shrimp, and crawfish if they have some at the store.
When I’m not touring, Eric and I both think it’s way more fun to just be at home with the kids.
C&I: First time you felt like a bona fide businesswoman:
Decker: The day Kittenish opened.
C&I: First date with Eric:
Decker: Kalamatas, a Greek restaurant in Green Hills.
C&I: Last time you had a good cry:
Decker: I can’t even remember — so that’s good. It’s been a really long time, and I am happy to say that.
C&I: Last country concert you loved:
Decker: It’s been so long since we’ve done that. I can’t even remember. When I’m not touring, Eric and I both think it’s way more fun to just be at home with the kids.
C&I: If you could set up a playdate for your kids with anyone, who would you call?
Decker: My sister Sydney and her baby girl, Brooklyn.
C&I: When do you feel most beautiful on the inside?
Decker: When I do good things for other people. But the way I feel beautiful on the outside? I get a good spray tan.
You won’t find Jessie James Decker’s new Kittenish store in the heart of Honky Tonk Row. She chose instead to hang out her shingle in Nashville’s Gulch neighborhood about a mile west and a world away from Lower Broadway. Kittenish is nestled across the street from the Station Inn, a tiny but legendary bluegrass listening room, a few doors down from the former food truck turned breakfast hot spot Biscuit Love, and around the corner from a store full of high-end handmade Lucchese cowboy boots. Inside the contemporary storefront you’ll find Decker’s designs in dresses, jackets, jumpsuits, tops, bottoms, swimwear, accessories, and more.
She started her Kittenish brand with about six pieces four years ago, and it’s just continued to grow. “My dream was always to be a country singer, to be onstage, to have fans,” Decker says. “I’d envision myself in the pieces I was drawing. It started out as, What would I want to wear when I’m onstage? And I knew I could design what I wanted for myself. I’m a very creative person.”
Find Kittenish at 304 11th Ave. South in Nashville. For more information, including tour dates and Kittenish fashion, visit jessiejamesdecker.com. Get some of Decker’s recipes here.
Photography: Nicole Gerulat/Courtesy Kittenish
From the July 2019 issue.