Allie Wall Mood’s Heathwood connections run deep. A 2002 alum, she’s married to 1999 alum Drew Mood, and is the mom of Poppy Mood, ’28, and two younger children, Henry and Edith. Her father, Hank Wall, started Heathwood’s wrestling team, and her husband is the nephew of former Lower School librarian Milly Hart.
Allie’s time at Heathwood was also predictive of her future career. The classmates who awarded her the “Best Dressed” senior superlative might not be surprised to learn that Allie is now a noted stylist and owns her own children’s clothing line, Poppy & Hen. Her work as a stylist has also earned her a ton of followers on Instagram—in fact, she was named a top Instagram mom to follow by Lonny Magazine, which said she “produces images that elevate mere cuteness into something more: a snapshot of the fleeting wonders of childhood.”
After graduating from Heathwood, Allie attended Auburn, USC, College of Charleston, Vanguard University and Columbia College, from which she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Social Work. We asked her what it’s like to be a social media influencer, and how she became both a stylist and a designer.
You have a very 21st-century career, the way you’ve carved out your own path, pulling different threads together, and especially the way you’ve become so prominent on social media. How did all of that come about?
My job as a children’s stylist, creative director, and media influencer really came about by chance. When Poppy was born, I struggled to find lovely, well-made, and funky clothing in stores. I began hunting for unique and inspirational brands, or vintage and hard-to-find pieces, and I was hooked. I quickly began to see that each piece of clothing tells a story. I would see a dress and instantly be taken to a location in my mind; I would imagine props, and accessories, and the perfect shoes. It was like I was dreaming in photographs. Little by little companies would notice my photos and reach out. I started small, blogging for fashion blogs and begging my friends to use their children as models. When I couldn’t take my own photos and was busy styling, I called on my cousin and Heathwood alum Mary Royall Wilgis (Class of 2016) to shoot for me. It has been a long road of working really hard to prove my vision, and I loved (and still love) every minute of it.
So how did your hunt for unique children’s clothing lead to Poppy & Hen?
My mother is an amazing seamstress and she taught all of us to sew (my sisters and I). As a new mother, if I couldn’t find that piece I was dreaming about, we would search out the pattern, pick out the fabric and get to sewing. My sisters, mother, and I ended up creating a company, Zippity Do Da, in 2010, and we sold one-of-a-kind vintage-inspired pieces via Facebook. We sewed them all by hand and found that the market and demand was huge. Our pieces would sell out within hours of a release. After I had my second child, and my sisters married and moved away (they both work in fashion too), we took a break from sewing. I guess I couldn’t fight the urge to create and design, because in 2016, I created Poppy & Hen.
Where has your work been featured?
I have worked on styling projects with various small companies like Pink Chicken, Vendue Inn Hotel, and Marysia Swim and larger companies like Gap Kids, Royal Caribbean, Toys R Us. And my work has been featured in Babiekins Magazine, Gurgle Magazine (UK), Mini Maven Magazine, and various magazines in South America.
You’ve accomplished so much across multiple platforms—has any of that been more challenging than you’ve made it look?
When it comes to my photos on Instagram and my job as an influencer, my life is definitely not as pretty or curated at the little squares you see. My job is to capture the "happy" though, so the photos people see are usually one shot I have taken out of 300 that happen to work. When collaborating with companies via social media, the pressure to get the best shot and represent the company to the best of my ability can be stressful. When the stress becomes too much, I lessen the load of collaborations and just focus on taking photographs of what I enjoy.
You were a Heathwood student and now you’re a Heathwood mom. Looking back, which Heathwood teacher would you say had the biggest influence on you?
Dr. Plowden. She was the first teacher to tell me, "You can really write." She urged me to use my writing abilities to create essays for college acceptance. Without those essays I would have never been admitted to college. I was a horrible standardized test taker, and my SAT scores were low because of it. Auburn University told me my essay was what got me into college, and that's all because of Dr. Plowden pushing me academically and creatively to use my writing. Because Dr. Plowden believed in my writing, I believed in it too. Many of the books we read in her class are still my favorites today.
What can we expect from you next?
Poppy & Hen will release a summer collection online, and while we focused on just girls' clothing before, we will be tapping into the world of little boys this time with some fun vintage-inspired pieces. I hope to continue my work as an influencer as long as I enjoy it, and as long as my children allow me to have a camera around. I look forward to collaborating with new companies and businesses. I would love to work with some local Columbia businesses, as I would love to help them grow their audience online. We have an amazing group of talented artists, makers, and shakers in Columbia and right here at Heathwood; I look forward to meeting them.