Picture yourself working 9-to-6 at a gig you can’t live without, while your sideline passion is all you ever dream about. Now imagine the alternate reality and consider the vision it would take to make that shift.
Without such risk takers, Atlanta’s consumer culture would be driven by the market interests of chain stores, franchises, and big-box retailers. So this year we celebrate the makers, those self-made entrepreneurs and sustainable small-business owners who’ve turned crafting hobbies into full-time hustles. Many work out of home studios, supplying product to local independently owned shops, and even shipping to stockists around the world.
Rachael Riedinger began leather making to fill a void. Through trial and error, she’s built Neva Opet into a recognized handbag and accessories brand. Sheree Swann started ReeFresh by Ree, her handcrafted line of tribal-print accessories, from scratch before making it her daily devotion just six months ago. Others, like Ateaelle urban merch brand owner Kirsten Daniel, have a vision for the city that fuels dialogue through design. We decided there are so many natural bath and beauty products made locally by the batch that they deserve their own category. Not to mention the holistic health practitioners, such as Crystal Jones and Leah Tioxon, who help us realign our third-eye vision.
Sometimes divining the future of a city obsessed with phoenix-like regeneration means looking to the past. It’s hard to overlook how century-old cultural staple Sweet Auburn Curb Market has provided the perfect blueprint for such upscale millennial rehabs as Krog Street Market and Ponce City Market. And no matter how sanitized this city gets, Little Five Points remains an eccentric shopping experience nearly 40 years strong. At least, that’s how we choose to see Atlanta in 2016.
— Rodney Carmichael