South Carolina’s Kate Furman designs nature-based jewelry that is both rustic and elegant.
The artist: Furman grew up in Greenville, where she began making jewelry in high school at the Fine Arts Center. She earned her undergraduate degree in jewelry and metalworking from the University of Georgia and a master’s degree in metalworking at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2012. Between and after school, she worked for jewelers and taught jewelry and art around the country. Currently, Furman teaches jewelry and is developing the jewelry and metalsmithing program at Greenville Center for Creative Arts.
What’s popular: Twig bangle and wrapping bracelets ($150 to $200) in two sizes and two colors (sterling silver or bronze). Also one-of-a-kind wooden “art jewelry” ($300 to $1,500).
Other favorites: Twig wrapping rings in silver ($125) or silver with a flush set of diamonds ($225).
Claim to fame: Published in many magazines, including the American Craft, and (coming this year) in Metalsmith Magazine. Also, exhibited internationally and nationally.
What’s new: Opening a new working studio and retail space in the Village of West Greenville, an emerging artist community.
Where to buy: www.katefurman.com. In Atlanta, at the ACC show (Booth 1108)
Fashion mixes with flora and fauna in Susan Carson’s colorful collection of scarves, figure-flattering clothing and decorative fabrics for your home.
The designer & founder: Carson grew up in Ohio, and graduated from the Art Institute of Atlanta. After college, she worked with David A. Saunders Interiors for 10 years in Perrysburg, Ohio, before opening her design firm in Charlotte, NC. In the mid-1990s, Carson started designing decoupage lamps and furniture. In 2010, she transitioned into designing textiles for made-to-order scarves, handbags, skirts, dresses, kimonos, and decorative fabrics.
The company: Carson & Co. started in Charlotte, but relocated to Charleston, SC, about two years ago.
What’s popular: Scarves ($320 to $350) in prints, including: Ostrich and Palm Trees; Lizzy; Mushrooms; and Woodpeckers.
Other favorites: Skirts, including the Blue Heron ($900) and Begonia Leaf ($1,300).
Fun (or unusual) request: More equestrian-themed pieces.
Claim to fame: Style Winner in Garden & Gun magazine’s “Made in the South” awards (2016).
Where to buy: carsonandco.com
Growing up in Alabama, Frances “Franny” Kansteiner dreamed of owning a farm. Now she and her husband own Virginia’s Gum Tree Far, where they raise organic sheep and create luxury wool items for you and your home.
The company: Gum Tree Farm began in 1995 in Middleburg Va., when the Kansteiners began raising ultra-fine merino sheep organically, and turning their fleece into wool blankets and garments, including capes and finger-less mittens. Over the years they’ve added knitters and weavers to the farm family and now have a line of sewn products as well.
What’s popular: Capes ($950 to $1,500) and finger-less mittens ($90) in three natural colors: cream, silver and chocolate brown (the color of the sheep).
Other materials: Besides the wool, the farm uses organic cotton as the warp in the woven fabrics. It also hand dyes yarns with natural, plant-based dyes.
Fun farm fact: “Mama Llama” (below) lives with and protects the sheep from unscheduled visitors, like dogs and coyotes.
Claim to fame: A finalist in both the GARDEN & GUN “Made in the South” Awards 2015 and the Martha Stewart “Made in America” Awards.
Where to buy: gumtreefarmdesigns.com.
Atlanta-based Bene is on a feel-good fashion mission: Buy a scarf and help educate a girl.
The company: Bené, launched in May 2013, offers a polished collection of Atlanta-made silk scarves inspired by the beauty of West African culture. The company name comes from the word benevolent.
The founders: Best friends Michelle Blue and Sasha Matthews grew up Lithonia, GA. Blue graduated from the University of Georgia with a marketing and fashion merchandising degree. Matthews earned a math degree at Florida A & M University.
Inspiration: In 2011, as a UGA student, Blue went on a summer a study-abroad program to Ghana, where she met girls eager for an education but struggling to afford one. She was motivated to help. After she graduated, Blue launched Bene with Matthews.
What’s popular: The five-scarf Akwaaba gift set ($550). Also one scarf ($150). A portion of the sales goes toward the girls’ tuition, books and uniforms.
Proud moment: The Bene founders traveled to Ghana last May to see the first group of girls graduate.
Where to buy: benescarves.com.
Natalie Davis, a graphic designer, artist and educator, uses traditional tooling and construction techniques to create her modern leather goods.
The designer/founder: Born in New York, Davis grew up in Texas. She earned degrees from UCLA (in Design/Media Arts) and Cranbrook (MFA in 2D Design) before moving back to Texas to start her studio.
The company: Canoe, based in Austin, Texas, was founded in 2009. The company makes custom leather goods, including hand-stitched cabinet handles, hand-dyed catch-all trays, poufs and mirrors.
What’s popular: Cabinet pulls ($68 to 28, shown below). Also the award-winning unisex perfume, Skive ($52), which captures the scent of the leather studio.
Big break: The company’s light switch plates were featured in a 2014 New York Times article, “Highlights of NY Now Gift Show.”
Claim to fame: The perfume, Skive, won a 2015 Art & Olfaction award and was positively reviewed by perfume expert Luca Turin on Style.com/Arabia.
What’s new: Leather poufs (shown below).
Where to buy: www.canoegoods.com
Classic yet contemporary, Rachael Riedinger leather bags are keepers — bags that never go out of style.
The designer/owner: Born in Louisiana, Riedinger grew up in Alpharetta, GA, and graduated with a degree in art history from Georgia State University. After a few unfulfilling post-college jobs, she fell in love with the character of leather and the bag-making process. The self-taught designer and leather maker took her hobby full-time in 2014.
The company: Atlanta-based Neva Opet started in 2014. The company makes leather totes, backpacks shoulder bags and small leather accessories designed to grow in character with age and wear.
The company name: It comes from her great-grandmother Neva and the ancient Egyptian Opet Festival, a nod to Riedinger’s love of art history.
Best sellers: Marina Circle Bag ($150, shown above); Nico Backpack ($265); Marlene Tote ($275); and Carolee Clutch ($85).
Other favorites: Dorothea Fringe Bag ($250) and Ana Bucket Bag ($260).
Big break: In the spring of 2014, she received a large purchase order from Urban Outfitters. Also, being awarded an Emerging Fashion Designer grant in 2016 from the City of Atlanta’s Office of Cultural Affairs.
Claim to fame: Atlanta magazine’s holiday gift guide (2016). Also highlighted as one of five makers in Garden & Gun’s “Standout Southern Handbags” (2015).
What’s next: A slimmer tote, circle backpacks, a waist pouch for summer music festivals and laptop/Ipad sleeves.
Where to buy: www.nevaopet.com
Self-taught jewelry designers Paige Booker and Alice Trahant choose materials for their hand-crafted pieces that catch their eye and have a little history behind them.
The company: Atlanta-based Empire State Finery started in 2014. It creates handcrafted necklaces and earrings, weaving various elements including bones, beads, leather, vintage finds and recycled vinyl into the pieces.
The founders & designers: Booker grew up in Rome, GA, and went to the University of Tennessee. After graduation, she spent a couple of years in Charleston, SC, before moving to Atlanta. Trahant grew up in New Orleans and graduated from Rollins College (Fla). Following college, she lived in in Austin and New Orleans before landing in Atlanta, where she and Booker met.
What’s popular: Boars tusk necklaces ($225 to $375). Also earrings ($55), often using hand-painted bone, recycled vinyl and Czech glass arrow beads.
Other favorites: The color-happy “Banded and Stranded” collection ($105 to $155), which can be worn alone or mixed and layered.
Fun request: When people ask us to work something personal into a piece.
Claim to fame: Featured in the August 2016 issue of InStyle Magazine, which the creators grew up reading.
Where to buy: www.empirestatefinery.com