If you’re looking for Christmas gifts that show your Alabama state pride, look no further than at artist Sony Clemmons’s folk art. Her whimsical Alabama folk art ornaments, prints and textiles can be found in stores throughout North Alabama. [Read more…] about Sonya Clemmons tells inspiring southern stories through her artwork
Last year some of us women who regularly attend SEC (Southeastern Conference) football games were a little perplexed because of the newly implemented clear bag policy at all of stadiums. The SEC implemented the new policy as an extra security measure because of the size of the venues and crowds according to a statement released by the SEC “Football stadiums are the largest venues in the world, therefore fan safety is of the upmost priority” the statement read.
The new policy meant I could no longer carry my cute team –logoed purse into the games. The policy not only stated the bag had to be clear, but it also required that all bags had to be a certain size. I also looked for the regulated bag in team shops around Birmingham and could not find one I liked. I finally settled for and bought a bag I saw at one of the bookstores in Auburn before the first home game. While entering the stadium last year, I saw many women having to check their bags at a tractor- trailer storage unit outside of Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium because they didn’t have the regulated purse or bag to enter.
My experience was not uncommon, and in fact, a similar experience is what led North Alabama entrepreneurs and friends Brittany Trapp and Laura Beth Agee to open their store Purseption. Brittany and Laura have been friends since kindergarten. Brittany attended Auburn and Laura attended Alabama and when they couldn’t find a cute PVC compliant bag when they went shopping, the two began designing their line of bags. Purseption is a line of genuine leather and PVC clear bag policy compliant bags.
“We went out shopping for a cute PVC compliant bag and couldn’t find one,” said Brittany Trapp, Co-Owner of Pursepetion. “We talked about it and thought that there must be other women who faced the same dilemma, so that’s how our company got started.”
According to their brand promise: “PURSEption” gives every stylish girl a style they want to emulate not just on gameday, but everyday. The two get their inspiration for the designs from the people around them, while at the same time, keeping functionality in mind. “We create our designs based on what people have told us they would like to see, our family and friends are our inspiration. Our goal is to create a line women would use not only on gameday, but everyday.” Brittany added.
The two have had a wild ride in their first year of business. The bags are currently a hot commodity. As soon as a bag is designed and made, it sells out. Dillard’s throughout the U.S. also carries the bags in stores and online. You also can purchase Purseption bags through their online store and in a variety of boutiques across the U.S. as well as at several boutiques in Alabama. The bags also meet the compliance policy for NFL games.
“Every entrepreneur needs to believe in themselves and the product or service they are offering,” said Brittany. “We are thrilled with how our business has been received in this first year, and are excited about where we are going in the future. We love what we do and we hope our customers love our bags as much as we do.”
No matter which football team you cheer for, we all can celebrate the fact that we now have a stylish clear bag option we can now purchase. I, for one, love the Brittany style bag and can’t wait to place my order!
Southern Makers an event, which celebrates southern creativity, came to Birmingham for the first time last weekend. Some of the best-of-the best southern artisans, creatives and makers who participated in the event showcased what makes them so special. I am personally thrilled to see a renaissance taking place in our culture where we have events like this that celebrate what makes southerners southern. Sheree Martin of Birmingham Shines and I attended the event to find out why we love celebrating southern culture.
We found unique products at the exhibitor booths that ranged from locally produced honey, to handmade leather goods to an on site barbershop to beautifully hand blown glass.
It was good to see familiar faces like Redland Cotton from Moulton, Alabama, Zkano Organic Socks from Ft. Payne, Alabama, Billy Reid of Florence, Alabama and Alabama Sweet Tea of Montgomery, Alabama. It also was fun to be introduced to new vendors like Lucy’s Inspired, a Birmingham jewelry company selling jewelry that tells a story, George Jones (not that George Jones) the broom maker and Debra Riffe, a linoleum block and woodcut printer.
Alabama breweries also offered samplings of their beers at the show. Breweries and craft beers have offered big entrepreneurial opportunities in Alabama after the law was changed in 2011 lifting restrictions on alcohol content in beer.
Perhaps the most intriguing vendor to me however, was the “Jackalope Queen” by Bunny Lane a New Orleans Taxidermy artist who displayed mutant rabbits dyed pink with unicorn horns. Who remembers the movie Hope Floats? The mother in that movie was a taxidermist whose home had the animals she preserved on display. You have to imagine the art display in that context, but a little more colorful. Bunny’s work can be seen in her gallery on Royal Street in the French Quarter in New Orleans.
For lunch I had a mascarpone grilled cheese with bacon and blueberry jam sandwich from Odette’s a café out of Florence, Alabama. It was wonderfully tasty and I paired it with Alabama’s Sweet Tea. I have wanted to eat at Odette’s every time I am in Florence, but have not had the opportunity.
The highlight of the day was a performance by The Pine Hill Haints of Muscle Shoals, Alabama. I would classify the band as a cross between a Cajun band and a rockabilly band. However, they describe themselves as a honky-tonk country band playing Alabama Ghost Music.
It is inspiring to see such an emphasis and celebration being placed on Southern makers. We too rejoice that we were able to discover a wealth of creativity and entrepreneurial spirit in these makers living in the South.
To celebrate the upcoming total solar eclipse we bring you a Rewind of Birmingham Shines podcast episode 8, featuring David Weigel, Director of Christenberry Planetarium at Samford University, and an avid outdoors guy who loves rock climbing all around Birmingham and the South.
This episode was released as a bonus episode of Birmingham Shines on June 15, 2015. In it, David and I (Sheree) talk about recent discoveries, a bit of astrophysics, and what Birmingham has to offer those who love to spend time in outdoor recreation.
The Christenberry Planetarium recently published this short video on the upcoming solar eclipse:
Read more about David Weigel in this profile from Samford University.
Birmingham residents had an opportunity to have the Made South experience this weekend at the Hoover Met. I have been following the Made South and Southern Makers phenomena for a couple of years now on Instagram, so I jumped at a chance to go to the show when a friend told me about it coming to Birmingham. It was a perfect show to meet the entrepreneurs I have been following on social media. I also got the chance to support some of them with purchases of Southern-made goods.
There were several vendors and products that caught my eye. I loved to seeing two Alabama distillers participating in the show: Redmont Distilling and John Emerald Distilling Company. I sampled the Redmont Vodka again I had sampled it at Birmingham’s Sloss Fest last year. It didn’t disappoint. I have been following the progress of Emerald Distilling on social media and I really was looking forward to trying their products. I am not particularly fond of whiskey, but their Alabama Single Malt Whiskey is smooth! I highly recommend it!
Other vendors I found interesting at the show were:
The vendor Red Land Cotton sells sheets, pillow covers and other Alabama cotton items from cotton grown on a farm located in Moulton, Alabama near the foot of the Bankhead National Forest.
Statesboro, Georgia’s H.L. Franklin’s Healthy Honey is to die for! I’d never heard of Creamed Honey until today. It was so good and unfortunately it had sold out. I did, however, buy their Crystallized Cotton Honey, my second favorite.
I tried the tasty Delta Blues Rice grits from Mississippi. I learn something new every day, and found out that rice was grown in northern Mississippi.
Marc Nelson’s custom-made denim out of Knoxville, Tennessee had samples of hand-made jeans and denim items.
Of course, I sipped on sweet tea from the Alabama Sweet Company and Honest coffee.
One of the highlights of the show for me was meeting an Instagram friend, Here A Chick There a Chick, a company owned by Kerry Leasure. She is an artist who makes jewelry out of vintage items and with each piece also comes a story about vintage piece that makes up the jewelry.
And what southern maker show would be completed without a Forrest Gump impersonator, none of course!
When you get a chance, you should go to a Made South show.