Blake Farmer, 23, was born and raised a Tennessean.
A photographer, an entrepreneur and an online graduate student at the University of Miami, Blake balances work and play in one big adventure.
As a graduate student in a sports administration program, he wants to tie his passion for photography and sports together. Last year, Blake finished his undergraduate degree at the University of Tennessee and said one of his dreams would be to work for Vol Photos.
the BEGINNING of a CRAFT
Blake grew up in East Tennessee originally but moved to Franklin in the third grade.
“Growing up we used to have the small square digital point-and-shoots, and in middle school, I would go out in my neighborhood and wouldn’t come back for hours,” he said. “I remember always adventuring out and trying to take a picture of the next cool thing. Photography was just something I always found interesting.”
After Blake graduated from UT in May of 2015, he moved to Kansas City and worked for Sporting Kansas City, a professional soccer team.
“I worked in ticket sales and loved Kansas City,” he said. “It was a new environment for me, but it wasn’t home, and Nashville couldn’t keep me away. I enjoyed it out there, but the job wasn’t a good fit for me.”
Blake came back to Franklin in October of last year and decided he wanted to pursue his dream of working in college athletics. He said during his undergraduate experience, his internships showed him that was the “field” for him.
He started graduate school this summer and said it was something he needed to do if he wanted to pursue it further.
an EVOLUTION into a BUSINESS
Initially beginning as a hobby, photography for Blake became more serious when he started selling prints and canvases.
“I took my camera wherever I went and just started snappin’ pictures,” he said. “With Instagram and social media as a platform, I was able to get my stuff out there. Some people were interested, so I set up an Etsy account.”
Along with photography, Blake has always been interested in apparel and fashion. Just within the last few months, he has decided to fuse the two together.
His apparel and photography brand, Tristar Life, is a combination of classic Southern prep with hip Nashville vibes.
“I was in a fraternity in college, so I know a little bit of that preppy side, but living in the Nashville area there’s always been that cool, hip vibe that’s different than a lot of other places.”
A self-proclaimed hat fanatic, Blake’s hats on TriStar Life range from traditional trucker style to other materials like wool and leather.
“I’m very inspired by our city. I want to put out things that I love and that people will love.”
Blake said there’s a reason why everyone wants to move to Nashville and why the city is doing so well.
“Not only is it a place for opportunity, but there is a culture and a vibe here that is very accepting and open,” he said. “It’s the perfect place for someone like myself to start a business and succeed. There are a number of contacts I’ve made by reaching out and partnering with designers, which is awesome because everyone is already right here.”
COMMUNITY and GROWTH
“Growing up I remember when it wasn’t as crowded, and the traffic wasn’t here, but I see the growth as a great thing,” he said. “It’s great for young, new businesses and the local economy.”
Apart from his entrepreneurship, Blake also works at the Franklin YMCA. He said he regularly meets people from out of town who say they are moving to the Nashville area.
“That’s awesome because they’re bringing their culture and their families here,” he said. “I love the fact that new people are coming in. It gives our city a different look.”
Overall, Blake called Nashville a pretty safe area and said there isn’t anything he’s particularly concerned about as the city continues to grow.
“Everyone is doing a good job of handling the growth. It’s cool how East Nashville and areas like that have become vibrant parts of the city,” he said. “Ten or twenty years ago, that was a place you may have wanted to avoid.”
Blake said Franklin has a great community full of people who are there to support each other. He said there are times when he’s done work pro bono just to help a good cause.
“Community is all about helping other people.”
“People here are willing to help each other out, and everyone isn’t always asking for something in return,” he said. “I’ve reached out to a lot of people when working and it’s not ‘what can you give me’ – it’s ‘let’s collaborate and do something cool.’”
FAITH and FAMILY
At times, Blake’s life can get busy with everything he’s got going on. He said people, especially his family, have been supportive and he’s blessed to have them in his life.
“I’ve had to face a lot of things in my life, but at the end of the day, I know what I’m doing is a God-given talent,” he said. “I’m blessed to have a great support system. Faith and family are huge for me.”
Blake said when putting out new products, whether it’s photography or apparel, there’s always that thought of what if people don’t like it, or what if it fails.
“I’ve learned I can’t think about it that way because if I don’t put myself out there 100 percent then I’m not going to reach my full potential. That inspires me to go for it every day. Why not me? I’m young and in a city full of opportunity.”
He said that doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be bumps in the road, but he said he’s allowing those bumps to push him to reach further and to keep going.
Blake said next up for him is continuing to expand the brand of TriStar Life. He said he wants to find an organization to help and would be interested in giving away some of his profit for a good cause.
“I have found a little bit of success so far, and I want to continue to build my brand, but in the end, it’s all about the community and giving back,” he said. “I don’t want this to be about myself. I’m in a community where people help people. God gave me a talent in taking pictures, so I want to use it to help others.”
To keep up with Blake and TriStar Life, follow the Instagram here!
Thanks for reading Nashville!