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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

kass wilson: designer’s resource

collage New folder grays

Kass Wilson is a true faux artist. Wilson, the owner and creative director for WallsTreat Studio, creates subtle and sophisticated finishes for residential and commercial spaces. She’s also a valuable, go-to resource for Atlanta designers.

The artist & owner: Originally from Minnesota, Wilson moved to Atlanta in 1985. With a love of design, Wilson began working with architects and designers selling corporate interior furnishings. In 1992, she was introduced to decorative artistry and began to focus on becoming an inventor of beautiful finishes. Wilson is also the author of the how-to book, “Creative Finishes.”

Kass Wilson

The company: WallsTreat Studio, started in 1993. The decorative arts studio specializes in architectural finishes and decorative arts services, providing architects and interior designers with creative resources for commercial and residential interiors.

What is a faux finish: Faux is the French word for false or fake, but the term faux finish is often misunderstood. Many times it is used as a general term for different types of decorative artistry, including murals and for simulating natural elements (wood, marble) on a multitude of surfaces.

Unfortunately, many people still think of faux finishes as sponge painting, rag rolling and over-textured walls for the past.

Where to use finishes: On obvious surfaces, such as walls and ceilings, but also on cabinets, columns, mantels, vent hoods and floors.

What finishes do for a space: Provide balance, disguise imperfections, enhance architecture, unify a color, and add an element of drama.

People would be surprised to learn:

  • Today’s finishes can incorporate glass beads, sheets of mica, glitter and reflective materials, foils, and interesting patterns.
  • There are finishes for contemporary, transitional and eclectic styles as well traditional.
  • Natural elements, such as marble, granite, wood grains, leather skins, concrete and metals (galvanized steel, aged copper, pewter, and gold leaf) can be simulated.

“True ‘faux artists’ are masters of disguise in their ability to mimic these natural elements,” said Wilson. “In the end, you must see it, feel it and touch it to believe it is not real.”

Biggest mistake I have made: In my first project (almost 20 years ago), I painted columns to resemble marble. I stood back and realized that the angle of the veining made the columns look like barber poles.

  and mistakes homeowners make: Watching a 20-minute demonstration and believing that applying a finish is an easy, do-it-yourself project.

Also, thinking that a finish should be the first design element they should select. Instead, a finish should be the last element specified, inspired by the colors, patterns, styles and features in the space, such as area rugs, flooring and window treatments.

Design pet peeve: Being called in to fix a project done by someone else. This is most common with cabinet finishes that are failing.

New or re-emerging design looks I like: Patterns and reflective products.

… and looks I want to see go: The heavy, Old World Tuscan look with tones of yellow and thick textures. Also, perfect stripes on a wall.

What’s next: Refinishing cabinets, using the preferred method of a sprayed catalyzed lacquered finish (like a factory finish).

Find Kass Wilson and WallsTreat Studio at:




fork art




Matt Wilson’s goal as an artist is to make metal artwork unlike anything you have seen, while at the same time using everyday materials that are instantly recognizable.

The artist: Born and raised in Greenville, SC, Wilson attended the Fine Arts Center of Greenville, a special art school in his senior year of high school and later studied drawing and painting at Winthrop University. In 2006, he left college and moved to Charleston, ready to try a new medium. Wilson, who wanted to learn how to weld, interviewed at Detyens Shipyards and became its resident artist. As a “thank you for your business,” he makes metal models of the ships that come to be serviced.

The company: Airtight Artwork, based in Charleston, started in 2013. Wilson uses organic and recycled materials, such as utensils, scrap metal and reclaimed wood to create his upcycled sculptures.

The company name: Airtight was Wilson’s nickname in college. He was shy, quiet and a man of few words.

The materials: Scrap metal, utensils, driftwood and reclaimed wood. He finds cutlery at thrift stores and yard sales.

What’s popular: Birds ($150 and up). The more detailed the piece, the higher the price.


Other favorites: Shrimp ($450); fish (around $400); and owls ($300 and up).

Fun (or unusual) requests: Space guns and harmonica holders. Also commissions, such as an Apache helicopter, a pole vaulter made of old dental tools and an octopus (using an old camera lens for an eye.)

Claim to fame/awards: “Best in Sculpture” at the 2016 Piccolo Spoleto juried art exhibition. Also nominated for “Best Local Visual Artist” in the Charleston City Paper for 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Where to buy: For information, check