After years of making her signature Green Tomato Chutney for friends and family, Alabama’s Rebecca Williamson started Birmingham-based Holmsted Fines.
Besides her original chutney, the Auburn and Le Cordon Bleu (London) grad offers other popular chutneys, including Peach and Balsamic Red Onion ($9.99 per jar).
Use chutneys to enhance the flavors of meats and vegetables or serve them with holiday appetizers.
Where to buy: Shop and find recipes at www.holmstedfines.com
The mother-son team behind Columbus-based Southern Straws uses a cherished family recipe to create its old-fashioned cheese straws in three flavors: the best-selling original cheddar, mild and spicy.
A three-ounce bag of the crispy, bite-size wafers is $6. A one-pound bag is $25.
Where to buy: www.southernstraws.com.
As a college football fan and fashionista, Atlanta’s Shena Simmons had a game plan: create a line of game-day wear for women. She kicked off her collection earlier this year.
The company: Atlanta-based Stewart Simmons designs and manufactures collegiate clothing for women. The collection includes dresses, T-shirts and skirts in the colors and symbols of colleges in six states in the Southeast.
The founder & designer: Simmons grew up in Pace, Fla., an area affectionately known as LA (Lower Alabama). She graduated from Florida State University and earned an MBA from Emory. Simmons spent nearly 10 years working in private wealth management and technology before launching Stewart Simmons.
Inspiration: Fall traditions in the South, especially football and food.
What’s popular: The Madison dress ($99) in orange and white (Tennessee’s colors) and the Ava dress ($99) in garnet and gold (Florida State colors).
Other favorites: Scalloped seersucker skirts ($40).
What’s new: Little white college branded tees ($38). Also Collegiate Holiday Boxes ($75), which include a square scarf, white t-shirt and jewelry.
Where to buy: www.stewartsimmons.com
For years, Denise Zannu made soaps in her kitchen. For herself. Then she wrapped them up as holiday gifts. When friends and co-workers asked to buy her colorful, hand-crafted soaps, Zannu decided to raise the bar.
The company: Black Mermaid’s Bath & Body, founded in 2012 in Snellville, GA, offers four major product lines: face, bath, body and a men’s collection are for all skin types.
What’s popular: Neem Oil Facial Bar Soap ($14.99). Popular with teens, it reduces oily skin and bumps caused by severe acne. Also the Shea-blended Body Whip (a four-ounce jar is $25.99). The head-to-toe moisturizer is available in four popular scents: Vanilla Spice, Patchouli & Jasmine, Citrus, Lavender Rose.
Other favorites: Poseidon Men’s Shaving Soap ($8.99), available in Clove, Lemongrass and Herbal Bay. It gives a smooth shave that reduces razor rash, razor bumps, and prevents ingrown hairs. Also the Luxury Soap ($ 7.99) in Gardenia, Honey Spice (using locally sourced honey and herbs) and Clove.
Fun request: Make bath bombs in shapes of lips, mustaches and high heels.
What’s new: All-Natural Beard Balm in the Poseidon Men’s Collection. Also a spa line of natural and organic liquid soap, hair conditioner, shampoo and lotion.
Where to buy: www.blackmermaidsoaps.com.
South Carolina’s Tom Mauldin is an artist and avid outdoorsman. His passion for fishing and the South’s coastal beauty inspired him to design a clever and functional piece of wearable art: a belt buckle that functions as a bottle opener.
The company: Based in Charleston, Hook N Hide started in 2008 on Sullivan’s Island.
The artist/founder: Mauldin was born in New Orleans and grew up in South Carolina. He earned a degree in fine arts from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. After college, he moved to the Florida Keys, where he worked for nine years before moving back to the Charleston area.
The goods: Fish belt buckles/bottle openers ($90 to $105) and leather belt straps ($48). Made of a mixture of metals, each buckle is branded with the HNH signature and numbered.
What’s popular: Redfish belt buckle/bottle opener ($100). The Redfish (also known as Red Drum or Spot Tail Bass) is the prize of “tailing tides.”
Other favorites: Tarpon and Rainbow Trout ($105).
Big break: At the Southeastern Wildlife Expo two years ago, Perk Perkins, the CEO of Orvis, stopped by Hook N Hide’s booth. Orvis now sells the Rainbow Trout buckle.
What’s new & next: The Bonefish belt buckle. By spring, the collection will expand to include wildlife designs.
Where to buy: www.hooknhide.com. In the Atlanta area, at Webb Limited, 4300 Paces Ferry Road, in the Vinings Jubilee (www.webbltd.com), and the London Trading Company, 30 E. Andrews Drive NW (http://londontradingcompany.com).
New Orleans metal artist Thomas Man is best known for his techno-romantic line of jewelry, which mixes materials and often tells a story.
The artist/designer: Born, in Allentown, PA., Mann was introduced to metalsmithing in a high school jewelry making class and later earned a degree in technical theater (set design and lighting) from East Stroudsburg University. Largely self-taught, the metal artist has lived and worked in New Orleans since 1988.
The main goods: Jewelry and home accessories, including sculpture, mirrors and clocks.
What’s popular: The “Heartbox” collection includes earrings ($200), necklaces ($130) and bracelets ($160). It features a red crystal heart loose in a sterling silver box, mixed with other tiny “found objects,” such as glass balls and brass dice.
Fun (or unusual) request: Asked to design a yad for a family. A yad is a Jewish ritual pointer that is used to follow the text while reading the Torah.
Where to buy: www.thomasmann.com or the Thomas Mann Gallery in New Orleans. In Atlanta, at the Atlanta Contemporary Jewelry Show Nov. 11-3 at the Carter Center.
In her Georgia studio, jewelry artist Helen Blythe-Hart creates what she calls wearable “rock gardens” from colorful gemstones.
The designer/artist: Grew up north of Chicago and spent her summers in Georgia with her family. Now living in McDonough, Blythe-Hart holds two degrees in jewelry: a BFA from Indiana University and a master’s degree from Georgia State University. A metalsmithing artist and educator for more than 40 years, she also has studied gemology through the Gemological Institute of America extensively on her own.
The goods: Works exclusively in precious metals (high karat gold and silver) and original jewels encrusted with colorful gemstones.
Inspiration: The fantastical forms of orchids (which she also grows) and ethnic adornments, which have the magical power to transform and elevate the wearer.
What’s popular: Earrings, pendants and rings (often using opal jewels) in the $300 to $900 price range.Big break: A metalsmithing museum in Germany purchased one of her sculptural pieces. The purchase allowed her to buy supplies and equipment that helped take her jewelry to the next level.
Claim to fame: Invented a revolutionary soldering method called “The Heat Zone” to help her students succeed with the torch. .