Leigh Ann grew up in Birmingham and wanted to be an interior designer since first grade, because her best friend’s relative was a designer, who Leigh Ann thought was just “fabulous”. She also sold friendship bracelets throughout elementary school, unknowingly beginning her love of jewelry design. She became an interior designer, but began Sweet Auburn Studio when she was between interior design jobs as a creative outlet, allowing her “to express creativity in ways not involving paint and fabric!” Her mom helps her out quite a bit in her home studio, in particular, heading up Sweet Auburn Studio Kid, a line of “classic and sweet designs for littles.”
We met Leigh Ann Harris of Sweet Auburn Studio at Cottontails Village in Birmingham, Alabama, and were so excited to have her as our neighbor there. We just fell in love with her beautiful jewelry, especially the way she incorporates unique vintage pieces in her designs!
Although Leigh Ann says she can’t choose one single favorite piece of jewelry, she especially enjoys creating the vintage collage bracelets and necklaces. One of her hobbies is looking for vintage pieces in antique shops and flea markets to use in her designs. She has even created pieces for friends using their grandmothers’ costume jewelry!
We’re so excited to carry some of our favorite pieces from Sweet Auburn Studio here at The Southern Mercantile! We love the way Leigh Ann combines so many elements in these vintage collage bracelets to make such beautiful statement pieces.
And, we just adore the look of these necklaces made with vintage pocket knives! Who knew a pocket knife would look so cute on a chain?
Leigh Ann says that, to her, “being southern means being gracious in all circumstances,” and we couldn’t agree more! She fits that definition to a “T,” and we are grateful to add her to our list of Southern Mercantile Maker friends! Be sure to check out her Etsy store to see more from Sweet Auburn Studio! And, if you’re in the Birmingham area, you can look into Burrow Interior Design, which Leigh Ann also owns.
Shop any of the pieces pictured above in our own store! We are excited to begin this journey with Leigh Ann and we can't wait to bring you more of her work!
In 2002, Chris Paulk came home to start a new venture on his family’s farm and muscadine vineyard: creating products made from muscadines that would highlight their flavor and health benefits.
Today, Paulk’s Pride is a line of dietary supplements, juices, and jellies, and Chris employs 8-10 people year-round at his manufacturing facility located in the middle of Paulk Vineyards.
People are always amazed to see what’s hidden away in our rural county. Driving through 600 acres of muscadine vines makes folks feel as if they’ve been transported to a southern version of Napa Valley!
Processing such unique fruit requires some impressive equipment, beginning with presses which separate the juice from the seeds and skins, to a state-of-the-art bottling line to fill bottles with that juice, to many other machines which turn the seeds and skins into dietary supplements.
Making the jellies has become a joint effort, as The Southern Mercantile actually produces Paulk’s Pride Muscadine Jelly, Sauce, and Preserves, and they’re available in our store!
If you’re interested in Paulk’s Pride Muscadine Juices or supplements, visit paulkspride.com. You can learn more about the Paulk Family and Paulk Vineyards by going to paulkvineyards.com.
And, yes, Chris is Jorjanne’s husband! You can read more about their story in Jorjanne’s blogs "Muscadines, Grandma, & a Husband" or "Faithful in the Little Things".
Roxie met Sharon, the creator and owner of Wallin & Buerkle, many years ago at the Americas Mart show in Atlanta. Instantly, she knew she had found someone who understood her aesthetic and who created meaningful pieces of jewelry that any woman would love to wear.
Over the years, Roxie has sold many of Sharon’s creations in our brick and mortar store, The Shoppes at Fourth and Cherry, in Ocilla, Georgia. Sometimes women purchase the jewelry for themselves, but many times, it makes the perfect gift for someone special or to commemorate a special occasion.
What I love about Wallin and Buerkle jewelry is how Sharon combines natural gemstones from all over the world with sweet charms into such simple, beautiful, wearable art. Although Sharon sources precious gems and metals from all over, she creates each piece by hand and with love in her studio located in Oregon.
I (Jorjanne) have a silver necklace with my two boys’ birthstones, a “J” initial pendant, and a tree of life charm given to me by my husband on Mother’s Day to remind me of how important (and how long) the job of raising my boys truly is. I also have a gold necklace a with a “J” script initial pendant, a smoky topaz pendant, and a small pearl charm, honestly, because I wanted a gold necklace that would go with anything, and every Southern woman knows that pearls go with everything!
Speaking of that truth, you’ll be glad to know that you can purchase a Wallin and Buerkle charm necklace in your choice of silver or gold with an initial charm and a freshwater pearl accent charm at The Southern Mercantile! What Southern woman wouldn’t love to have one of those?!
Melissa Hunter Dark returned home a couple of years ago with her husband, David, and adorable little boy, Ford. They have worked diligently to restore a lovely old farmhouse, while also raising cattle on their farm, Otter Creek Farm. I love following her on Instagram (@greenergrass_handmade) just to see her adorable cow videos!
When she’s not busy raising calves and her own child, Melissa’s creative talents are evident in her many and varied sewing projects, from baby blankets to children’s bow ties and hair bows to handmade teepees. I mean, what kid wouldn’t love having their own teepee?
Melissa also teaches the dwindling art of sewing in small classes and workshops throughout the year, as well as hosts craft parties for your own event!
I have participated in a couple of Melissa’s craft parties, and I can tell you, she makes small projects like handmade cards and hair bows simple and truly encourages her participants to be creative. I just love being around someone like that!
If you check out Melissa’s website (greeenergrasshandmade.com) you’ll also find tutorials for lots of crafts you can accomplish on your own time. I think my favorite is the book page wreath, which we featured here a while back!
And, of course, you can purchase her bow ties and hair bows from the “Littles” page of The Southern Mercantile Store, or all of her products are available on her website.
While in college, I had the opportunity to meet tons of people--all unique and incredibly gifted. I met a girl during my time with a student ministry that stood out. She was bold, she was fun, she had style and most importantly--she had a heart for others. (We're pictured below at a staff event in which we were Power Rangers :) We crossed paths throughout those few years and I always kept my eye on her, because I knew she would do something great.
In 2011, Kristen and a friend of hers began to find a purpose for old things, making them new and selling them as a fund raiser for a local ministry. As time passed, they continued this venture by selling their items at local craft shows--still donating a portion of their profits to local ministries. They took time learning the craft of woodworking as their business grew, selling items under the name "Recalimed: Crafts & Antiques".
In 2013, Kristen became the sole owner and operator of what is now called Reclaimed Atlanta. She has dedicated herself to thoroughly learning the craft of making custom pieces that serve as functional art. Kristen remains true to the initial purpose of this endeavor by continuing to donate a portion of her profits to local ministries.
“I want to be a small part of something big; I want that to resonate through my life, business, and relationships.” -Kristen Consuegra
Last week, Tara and I were blessed to have the time to meet up with our friend, Chase Lott of JCL Woodworking, at his wood working studio. We were anxious to check out his process and snap some pictures. To get to Chase’s house and shop you drive back off the road, down a dirt drive, through old pine trees, past a very old barn… You get the picture, very old south. We pulled up at his shop and were immediately greeted by his cocker spaniel, Luci.
Chase’s workspace is so personal and inviting. He has trays of stacked wood, just calling out to become something new.
His hunting supplies are neatly stored and his tools are very well organized. (I am used to a much messier work space myself!) He showed us his different tools and explained all the different types of wood he works with. We even got to see a 100 year old Black Walnut stump that was from a tree that was on his family’s farm for, well, forever ago. Most of Chase’s products are made from woods that are native to the south that he procures from his family’s land.
Chase chose a block of wood, sat at the laithe and began showing us how he turns the bottle stoppers. His skill was apparent immediately as the stopper began to take form. It was amazing how quickly he formed the shape!
We enjoyed asking him all kinds of questions about his process and his interests. Chase also shared with us what he’s been working on recently, a collection of wood turned duck calls. We hope those will be landing in The Southern Mercantile Makers Market soon!
It is always a treat to get to spend time with fellow creative folks and soak up a little of their creative spirit and the love they have for their craft. Take the time to check out our Makers page to see our collection of Chase’s beautiful bottle stoppers! We think they would be perfect for hostess gifts, groomsmen gifts and stocking stuffers!
We’ll be sharing more of our favorite makers over the next couple of weeks. We hope you fall in love with their talents as much as we have!