As a college football fan and fashionista, Atlanta’s Shena Simmons had a game plan: create a line of game-day wear for women. She kicked off her collection earlier this year.
The company: Atlanta-based Stewart Simmons designs and manufactures collegiate clothing for women. The collection includes dresses, T-shirts and skirts in the colors and symbols of colleges in six states in the Southeast.
The founder and designer: Simmons grew up in Pace, Fla., an area affectionately known as LA (Lower Alabama). She graduated from Florida State University and earned an MBA from Emory. Simmons spent nearly 10 years working in private wealth management and technology before launching Stewart Simmons.
Inspiration: Fall traditions in the South, especially football and food.
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What’s popular: The Madison dress ($99) in orange and white (Tennessee’s colors) and the Ava dress ($99) in garnet and gold (Florida State colors).
Other favorites: Scalloped seersucker skirts ($40).
What’s new: Little white college branded tees ($38). Also Collegiate Holiday Boxes ($75), which include a square scarf, white T-shirt and jewelry.
Where to buy: www.stewartsimmons.com
For years, Denise Zannu made soaps in her kitchen. For herself. Then she wrapped them up as holiday gifts. When friends and co-workers asked to buy her colorful, handcrafted soaps, Zannu decided to raise the bar. And start a business.
The company: Black Mermaid’s Bath & Body, founded in 2012 in Snellville, offers four major product lines: Face, bath, body and a men’s collection are for all skin types.
The founder: Originally from Cincinnati, Zannu earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Cincinnati and a master’s degree in adult and continuing education from Central Michigan University. She worked as a teacher for 18 years in Virginia and in two Atlanta-area school systems. After researching and testing products, Zannu used a small tax refund to launch her company.
What’s popular: Neem Oil Facial Bar Soap ($14.99). Popular with teens, it reduces oily skin and bumps caused by severe acne. Also the Shea-blended Body Whip (a 4-ounce jar is $25.99). The head-to-toe moisturizer is available in four popular scents: Vanilla Spice, Patchouli & Jasmine, Citrus, Lavender Rose.
Other favorites: Poseidon Men’s Shaving Soap ($8.99), available in Clove, Lemongrass and Herbal Bay. It gives a smooth shave that reduces razor rash and razor bumps, and prevents ingrown hairs. Also the Luxury Soap ($ 7.99) in Gardenia, Honey Spice (using locally sourced honey and herbs) and Clove.
Fun request: Make bath bombs in shapes of lips, mustaches and high heels.
Big break: Winning the business plan pitch contest by the Gwinnett Chamber called “The Amazing Entrepreneur Contest” in 2014.
What’s new: All-Natural Beard Balm in the Poseidon Men’s Collection. Also a spa line of natural and organic liquid soap, hair conditioner, shampoo and lotion.
Where to buy: www.blackmermaidsoaps.com. In the Atlanta area, at several locations, including: Sevananda Natural Foods Market, 467 Moreland Ave. N.E., Atlanta, and Amy’s Natural Foods, 10591 Old Alabama Road Connector, Alpharetta.
A fish story
South Carolina’s Tom Mauldin is an artist and avid outdoorsman. His passion for fishing and the South’s coastal beauty inspired him to design a clever and functional piece of wearable art: a belt buckle that functions as a bottle opener.
The company: Based in Charleston, S.C., Hook N Hide started in 2008 on Sullivan’s Island.
The artist/founder: Mauldin was born in New Orleans and grew up in South Carolina. He earned a degree in fine arts from Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia. After college, he moved to the Florida Keys, where he worked for nine years before moving back to the Charleston area.
The goods: Fish belt buckles/bottle openers ($90 to $105) and leather belt straps ($48). Made of a mixture of metals, each buckle is branded with the HNH signature and numbered.
What’s popular: Redfish belt buckle/bottle opener ($100). The Redfish (also known as Red Drum or Spot Tail Bass) is the prize of “tailing tides.”
Other favorites: Tarpon and Rainbow Trout ($105).
Big break: At the Southeastern Wildlife Expo two years ago, Perk Perkins, the CEO of Orvis, stopped by Hook N Hide’s booth. Orvis now sells the Rainbow Trout buckle.
What’s new and next: The Bonefish belt buckle. By spring, the collection will expand to include wildlife designs.
Where to buy: www.hooknhide.com. In the Atlanta area, at Webb Limited, 4300 Paces Ferry Road, in the Vinings Jubilee ( www.webbltd.com ), and the London Trading Company, 30 E. Andrews Drive N.W. ( http://londontradingcompany.com ).