Having two kids under the age of 2 would be a challenge for anybody — but throw the opening of a pop-up shop, album release and international tour into the mix and you’ve now reached Thomas Rhett’s level.
“To have two children under the age of 2 has been pretty challenging for me and [my wife] Lauren [Akins],” Thomas Rhett, 27, told PEOPLE at the launch of his Los Angeles pop-up on Friday. “But at the same time, I feel like if we can handle this, we can handle pretty much anything.”
This week, in particular, has been major for Thomas Rhett both professionally and personally — his album Life Changes became the first country album in 2017 to hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and his 22-month-old daughter Willa Gray, whom he and Akins, 27, adopted from Uganda in May, just had her first day of school.
A post shared by Lauren Akins (@laur_akins) on Sep 18, 2017 at 6:31am PDT
“It was sad for me and Lauren, but she didn’t care,” Thomas Rhett says of Willa Gray starting school, which is only one day a week. “I don’t think she even turned around and looked at us before we left.”
“I feel like I’ve known her for forever,” Thomas Rhett adds. “I feel like she’s so much older than she is, but she’s still so young and so to watch her in [the school] environment and watch her play with other kids was just really cool for me and Lauren to see.”
After welcoming daughter Ada James, 5 weeks, in August, Akins told PEOPLE at the time that having a little sister was “world-changing” and “emotional” for Willa Gray, but since then, Thomas Rhett says she has fully adjusted to having the newborn around.
“For two weeks, [Willa] was like, ‘Who is this person who came in and took some of the attention away from me?’ ” Thomas Rhett says. “But now she’s super protective of Ada and is just turning into an amazing big sister.”
Thomas Rhett’s two daughters and wife were on hand to help him celebrate his lesser-known love for fashion with the launch of his pop-up shop, which features a collection of streetwear-inspired styles for men and women from the new collection Daniel Patrick X Thomas Rhett, four varieties of New Era baseball caps featuring Thomas Rhett’s Home Team logo, t-shirts custom designed and handmade by MadeWorn as well as a limited supply of custom crafted denim jackets by stylist Kemal Harris.
Also available for purchase at the shop is tour merchandise and the shirt his wife designed for 147 Million Orphans, the charity the couple has worked closely with and through which they first met Willa Gray.
“If you ask someone who doesn’t know anything about country music, they’re going to think all we wear is belt buckles and cowboy boots,” Thomas Rhett says, though he admits he wore cowboy boots for the first two years of his career. “I started to dance around on stage and realized I was going to break my ankle if I didn’t switch shoes.”
He continues: “There’s so many people in country that are hip and have great taste in what they wear on stage, so for me to be able to be loud about it is something that has never really been done in this genre. They do it in the pop and hip-hop world all the time, so why can’t we do it?”
Thomas Rhett, a self-proclaimed sneakerhead, has always loved streetwear and distressed items so he wanted to make sure he incorporated things that he actually wears into the collection. But as to whether his style has changed since becoming a dad?
“I tuck my shirt in more now,” Thomas Rhett says with a laugh. “I’m definitely rocking some dad vibes. I think my style is ever-changing, especially with the things that can change it even more — like having kids.”
As his daughters get older, though, Thomas Rhett thinks they’ll definitely be the ones “giving all the advice” when it comes to style.