Southern Made: Ramp up your look

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Southern Made: Ramp up your look

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For the AJC
Atlanta-made Bene Scarves are simple, elegant, and part of a worthy cause. Contributed by benescarves.com

NATURE + COLOR

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, N.C.

The colorful, made-to-order Victoria Paisley kimono ($1,300) with the butterfly sleeves is designed by Susan Carson of Carson & Co., now based in South Carolina. Contributed by carsonandco.com For the AJC

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, S.C., 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 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

LOOK GOOD + DO GOOD

Atlanta-based Bené is on a feel-good fashion mission: Buy a scarf and help educate a girl.

Atlanta-made Bene Scarves are simple and elegant. A purchase of a silk scarf will help you look good — and do some good. Contributed by benescarves.com For the AJC

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 in Lithonia.

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 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 Bené 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 Bené founders traveled to Ghana last May to see the first group of girls graduate.

What’s next: Extending the program to other countries, including Jamaica.

Where to buy:benescarves.com.

AGRICULTURALLY CHIC

Growing up in Alabama, Frances “Franny” Kansteiner dreamed of owning a farm.

Virginia’s Gum Tree Farm raises sheep organically and then processes the wool into hand-woven, knitted or sewn pieces, such as this cape with hand-knitted fringe. Contributed by gumtreefarmdesigns.com For the AJC

Now she and her husband own Virginia’s Gum Tree Farm, 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 fingerless 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 fingerless mittens ($90) in three natural colors: cream, silver and chocolate brown (the color of the sheep).

Other materials: Besides 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” lives with and protects the sheep from unscheduled visitors, such as dogs and coyotes.

Claim to fame: A finalist in both the Garden & Gun magazine’s “Made in the South” awards in 2015 and the Martha Stewart “Made in America” Awards.

Where to buy:gumtreefarmdesigns.com. Also Feb. 24-26 at the Thomasville Antiques Show & Sale in Thomasville, Ga. (thomasvilleantiquesshow.com.)

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