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The Story of The Lodge at Sweetwater Studios

My parents purchased the land that is now home to Sweetwater Studios in 1977. Twenty-six acres in rural Mississippi seemed like a strange place to start a life, yet for these two newlyweds, the opportunities felt endless.  


And they were. Sweetwater Studios began as a way for two young entrepreneurs to survive after Hurricane Fredrick destroyed their plant and greenhouse business in 1979. They seized the opportunity to create a new career where they could do something they loved – create.


My father, John, learned the art of stained glass after reading an article in Mother Earth News, and my mother, Kim, fell in love with weaving after her father-in-law built her a 24” floor loom. Their creative energy finally had a home, Sweetwater Studios.


In the summer of 1980, they rented out the house they’d bought, renovated a small travel trailer and moved to Gatlinburg, Tennessee where they opened a studio and gallery on the Craftsman’s Loop. They sold their stained glass and weaving and called it Sweetwater Studios, after the small creek that runs behind their Mississippi home.


This situation allowed them to attend Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, a 100-year-old complex of education in fine craftsmanship and artistry centered around fiber, clay, wood, glass, and metal to name a few. Here they immersed themselves in their art forms, taking classes, learning their craft, and running the gallery where they would create and practice their art while chatting to tourists. 


Their intention was to return home, pack up, and move back to Gatlinburg. But the Universe had other plans.


A newspaper article featured their art and story and as my dad likes to say, “The phone started ringing for stained glass orders and it's been ringing ever since”. So they stayed, moved back into their small Mississippi home and began to build another business and their forever home. Since then their art has been featured in museums around the country, shown in some of Mississippi's premier galleries and craft shows, and they've both had several guest appearances of the HGTV show, Home Town with Ben and Erin Napier. 


Seizing opportunity out of the unexpected, making the best of a situation, and doing what you love have carried them for almost 50 years, and what has now brought me back home to open The Lodge at Sweetwater Studios. 

I found what I love in the travel and tourism industry. Working in hotels and restaurants for over 15 years in places like Hawaii, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Malaysia allowed me to discover my dream of owning my own hotel someday. 

When COVID-19 hit in the Spring of 2020, it forced me back home and allowed me to take the lessons my parents learned after Hurricane Frederick and apply them to this unexpected situation. 

And so, The Lodge at Sweetwater Studios was born out of my love for travel, yoga, art, and sharing the magic of my home with all who desire to visit. 


We look forward to sharing not only our story with you but our home. 

With Love & Wellness,

Airon Whitt

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