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go small

O OOOOO sailboat

 A fascination with miniatures inspired Alabama artist Karen Libecap to think big. But paint small.

The company: Tiny Paintings is based in Hoover, Ala. Libecap started doing tiny paintings in 2015.

The artist: Grew up in Dayton, Ohio, and was encouraged by her mother, an oil painter and sculptor, to pursue her passion for drawing and art. She attended Kent State University for graphic design and worked as an art director in Chicago, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio. In 2009, she moved to Alabama. In 2013, she entered her first art competition and was awarded the Hoover Arts Alliance Award from the Alabama Pastel Society.

The goods: Realistic with keenly observed details, the tiny paintings ($100 to $200) are no larger than 1.25 inches by 1.25 inches (about the size of a quarter or postage stamp). Random and popular subjects include animals, books, celebrities, favorite foods, places, and vintage toys.

By the book: Learn how to draw and paint the art of the miniature in Libecap’s guidebook,” The Big Book of Tiny Art: ($21.95)

Where to buy:

O OOOOO heartO OOOOO palmtreelandscape

beach inspired

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After a walk on the beach, Bryce Brock and Kelly Revels designed sculptural containers inspired by an oyster shell found on Sapelo Island, off the Georgia coast.

The designers/founders: Georgia natives Bryce Varin Brock and Kelly Revels. A self-described creative, Revels earned a degree in business administration from GSU and worked at a software company. Brock graduated from UGA in 2001with a degree in landscape architecture and joined the Sea Island Company in its landscape department. A few years later, she became the landscape director. She also assisted in the landscape design for the Cloister, the spa and beach club landscape. In 2007, the flower shop was put under her direction. Needing help, Brock called her friend Revels. Over the next few months, they came for a business was born.

The company: The Vine Garden Market on Saint Simons Island opened in 2008. The company consists of three different yet complimentary departments: Landscape design, events and a garden market, which sells plants, plus garden and home decorating items.

What’s popular: Oyster shell containers in three sizes ($75, $150 and $250).

Big breaks: Connecting with The Southern C, a resource group for Southern entrepreneurs. Also moving the store to its current location at 12 Market Street, where there is more foot traffic

What’s next: The Greenhouse, a new event space, will open this fall.

Where to buy: In Atlanta, find the oyster containers at Steve McKenzie’s, 999 Brady Ave. NW (

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haute tops



With their clean architectural lines, Texas-based Finley shirts and dresses are both classic and contemporary

The company: Finley Shirts, based in Dallas, started in 1995. The company designs and manufactures women’s shirts and shirtdresses known for their casual elegance.

The founders: Finley Moll and Heather McNeill. Moll graduated from the University of North Texas with a fashion degree and worked from the ground up in pattern making, garment production before becoming head designer of Jan Barboglio, a Dallas fashion designer. Moll met McNeill at Barboglio, where McNeill worked in marketing and sales while earning a master’s degree. When the fashion label closed in 1994, the Moll and McNeill decided to launch Finley Shirts.

Best sellers: Shirts, including the Joey ($165, below), Jenna ($215) and the Trapeze ($215).

Other favorites: Sleeveless Swing shirtdress ($240) and the button-up-the-front-and-back Shelly sleeveless shirt ($180, above).

Where to buy: and In Atlanta, at Tootsies ( and Ginger Howard Selections (




Finley shirt


style with a story



Jan Agnello’s antique coin purse necklaces make a statement. And tell a story.


The designer/founder: Agnello graduated with an advertising degree from Washington State University and worked in sales, creating advertising campaigns for radio, television, and newspapers. She later made a corporate move to Atlanta for her husband’s career.

The company: Storyology Design started in Atlanta  in 2013 as a way for Agnello to be creative and combine two of her passions: antiques and the stories that go with them.  It specializes in antique coin purse necklaces produced between 1830 and 1930.

What’s popular: Commemorative and souvenir purses highlighting historical events. Also the tam o’ shanter-style purses. Prices range from $195 to $245. Extremely rare coin purse necklaces have sold for $800 plus.

Other favorites: “Kiss Thimble Tassel Necklaces,” using antique Victorian thimbles and turning them into necklaces ($60 to $95). In creating the line, Agnello took inspiration from the book “Peter Pan,” where a thimble symbolized a kiss.

Fun request: Customers ask me to design necklaces using their own family purses and other trinkets.

Claim to fame: Selling rare, early 1930’s Mickey Mouse coin purse necklace, an early silent film novelty man in the moon coin purse necklace, and a commemorative 1889 Paris Exhibition Eiffel Tower coin purse necklace.

Where to buy: In the Atlanta area, at Scott Antique Market (North Building) in Jonesboro (May 11-14) or the second weekend of each month and the Lakewood 400 Antique Market (H Hall), in Cumming (May 19-21) or every third weekend of the month.

Three purse


Eiffel Tower Purse

equestrian elegance


Mark Lexton 

Drawing inspiration from wife’s lifelong love of horses, South Carolina’s Lex Matthews created an equestrian line of jewelry. Since then, the third-generation goldsmith has expanded his classy collections to include an oyster and sporting themes.

The designer & owner: At an early age, Matthews was exposed to the family jewelry business. His grandfather, a skilled watchmaker, owned a jewelry store in Lake City, SC. His father opened his own store in nearby Florence. To hone his skills, Matthews headed for Bowman’s Technical School in Lancaster, Penn. After graduation, Matthews returned home, married his wife Lisa and crafted his first jewelry line, inspired by her riding gear.

The company: Mark Lexton, based in Florence,  started in 2000. Matthews hand carves and casts jewelry and accessories – with outdoor themes — in sterling silver and gold. Pieces range from rings and necklaces to belt buckles and cuff links.

What’s popular: In the equestrian collection, the Stirrup bangle ($295 and up) and the Stirrup and Pearl bracelet ($325 and up). In the oyster collection, the Oyster clasp bracelets with Freshwater Pearls ($225 and up) and the Oyster shell cufflinks ($225 and up).

Other favorites: Triple Crop ring ($525); Oyster shell dangle earrings ($115 and up); the Redfish cufflinks ($250 and up) in the sporting collection.

Fun requests: To honor the memory of a beloved mare, a customer asked the company to match her blue saddle pad with a stone for the Snaffle Bit Ring. A faceted Swiss Blue Topaz matched perfectly.

Where to buy:


hot to trot art

Crase Horse

Kentucky’s Melissa Crase owns and rides horses. The self-taught artist also paints them in bright, unexpected colors.

The artist: The Pennsylvania native has no formal art training, but has enjoyed painting her entire life. Crase graduated from Syracuse and the University of Kentucky. After college, she had careers in advertising and pharmaceutical sales before starting a full-time art business. She still rides, competes in horse events and loves being in the horse barn.

The company: Melissa Crase Art, located in Winchester, started in 2016. Crase’s subject matter is largely equine, but she also paints botanicals and landscapes.

Materials: Mostly acrylics or mixed media on canvas, using palette knives, corks or her fingers (rarely a brush) to paint.

What’s popular: Equine art ($100 to $4,500). It helps to be in Kentucky, she said, where there are many horse events (besides the Derby) and horse enthusiasts.

Big break: The Lexington Gallery Hop, where she showed her work eight years ago at the urging of a friend.

Where to buy:




born to rock

classic saddle

Alicia Williams used to ride horses. Now the North Carolina artist designs and builds heirloom-quality rocking horses.

The artist: Grew up in Michigan, where she started riding horses in the fifth grade and won awards for her charcoal horse drawings. After graduating from Houghton College (NY), she worked in the outdoor adventure and education field for six years before taking a job through AmeriCorps with Habitat for Humanity in Durham, NC, as a construction site supervisor for four years. She also took a few woodworking classes, where she built her first rocking horse.

The company: Heartwood Rocking Horses, based in Asheville, started in 2013. The rocking horses, with their expressive eyes and faces, are carved from native woods and reclaimed lumber and sealed with food-safe, non-petroleum oil and a wax finish. Horses often feature adjustable foot pegs, hand holds and a saddle.

What’s popular: Toddler rocking horse ($400) and the classic rocking horse ($1,600 to $1,800).

Other favorites: Stick horses ($45).

Claim to fame: Exhibiting member of the Piedmont Craftsmen since 2015.

 Where to buy:

PicMonkey Collage