Oh my goodness, y’all. Did you read today that fashion designer Billy Reid won the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers/Vogue Fashion Fund award as an exceptional and exciting emerging talent? And did you notice that he was described as Southern and country and small-town? Well, he lives in MY Southern and country small-town of Florence, Alabama, and I know him! I’ve been to his house! His sister-in-law and her husband are my periodontists!! He sometimes remembers my name!!! It tickles me no end to see somebody I know — somebody I know as just a regular normal person — all dressed up and under the lights in photographs with Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld. Good for him. He really is a nice family guy with an elegantly classic yet at the same time sentimentally laidback sort of style. It’s like J. Crew meets Holly Golightly and they go have tea at Grey Gardens. See for yourself. I’ve even picked up a couple of Billy Reid pieces at his super-super-way-out-of-season discount sales, which is the only way I can afford designer duds. But the two sweaters and the skirt I did buy are some of my favorite clothes — Reid has high standards for quality and workmanship, which, of course, accounts for the high (for me, at least) prices. And he’s a great neighbor, too. His shop — with company headquarters on the second floor — is smack dab in the middle of downtown Florence, and he’s become a huge community asset. He hosts parties, supports causes and encourages local musicians and artists. He and his family came to Florence — his wife’s hometown — after post 9/11 frugality sunk his fledgling fashion business. He regrouped and started again, and now he’s hanging out in New York with the fashion elite. See where determination and hard work will get you? And talent. And creativity. And financing. But the one thing I really admire Billy Reid for is his incredibly marketing savvy. He knows how to style his brand and get that brand out there. Everything that represents him and his business is consistent and authentic — you know it’s Billy Reid as soon as you open the envelope or read the Facebook post or see the print ad. Seems to me that no matter what business you’re in, that’s a tremendous advantage.