Story by Anna Debald
Photos by Michael Attila
The Southern Women’s Show, an event adored by mothers, sisters, daughters, aunts and friends. The event tours ten southern states bringing fashion, beauty and food to consumers in the area.
The show made its way to our very own Richmond just over a week ago, setting up vendors at the International Raceway. When I arrived at the event, the blue sky, lacking clouds, presented an ideal day to shop! Although Richmond is indeed southern, it often renders an urban lifestyle. The Richmond Raceway was a great location to host the event, as it added a southern, rustic charm and a strong contrast between the neatly prepared boutiques and shops that awaited inside.
The interior formed a maze of vendors who came to help women fashion all facets of their lives. Each one obtained its own decorated space to allure customers. The event was overflowing with smiling entrepreneurs, happy to share their life’s work with shoppers. A wide range of and goods services were presented, attending to all of consumers’ needs. There were custom fit toe rings, free spinal screenings, makeup artists penciling in eyebrows and snap on jewelry, to name a few. However, there were five vendors that stood out as unique and eye catching. The following products offered by retailers at The Southern Women’s Show have a personal touch that makes them hand-made, playful and appealing to customers.
The first is a store called WEST47th. Their merchandise was so beautifully crafted I couldn’t help but purchase a pair of earrings. The base of the earring is made of a type of pink artificial palm, resembling phormium tenax. On top of this grassy material are purple jewels that form the shape of a star or a flower shape.
Both WEST47th’s jewelry and apparel are color and detail oriented. Most of their jewelry consists of interesting materials, like fringe and metal tassels. They are created with bright colors and act as great statement pieces to add depth to an outfit. Their apparel is glamorous with beading, embroidered pearls, glitter and toile. Floral print two-pieces were stand-out pieces that filled their racks at the show last weekend. WEST47th is comprised of fashion forward garments and accessories made for the modern cool girl.
The second is Milk Reclamation Barn, who compile candles on a small farm in North Baltimore County. The two women mending their booth at the show were friends, who began the company by “surrounding themselves with a group of girlfriends to sip wine and create about hundred candles in one sitting.” Now, the company produces their candles in a refurbished barn. Milk Reclamation Barn sells milk bottle candles, milk barn soy melts and barn metal candles.
The milk bottle candle sits in a repurposed milk bottle, contains 100% American grown soy wax and is topped off with a silicon lid. The soy melts are 3 ounce squares created for burning up to eight hours. Their barn metal candles are made with cotton wicks and set into a rustic can. The Milk Reclamation Barn offers sixteen different scents, with names like “early to rise” and “wild honeysuckle.” Their products displayed at The Southern Women’s Show were nothing short of endearing.
Handcrafted in small amounts and carefully placed in individual bags, Natasha’s Just Brittle offered a delicious experience at the event with free samples of the savory brittle. A mixture of sea salt, brown and white sugar, agave and butter forms the base of Natasha’s brittle. She also bakes 37 flavors, banana split and pretzel brittle being some of the best sellers. Natasha grew up cooking in her grandma’s kitchen. At this three day event, audiences were delighted to hear her story and taste her delicacies. It was definitely the perfect treat to keep in my purse and carry round while viewing displays.
The table next to Natasha’s sweet treats was a company called Monat. This is a family owned company, began by Louis Urdanata. He came from humble beginnings and strive to begin something of his own. Laura Breneman, market builder for the company, attended the weekend event. She shared that the hair products Monat sells are not tested on animals. They use a rejuvenating oil intensive comprised of eleven molecular ingredients that revives dull hair.
They also have a list of “Monat No’s” which includes harmful ingredient most drug store brands use. Their display consisted of shampoos, conditioners, and products for styling or treatment. Reshape Root Lifter, Blow Out Cream and Intense Repair Conditioner were products that stood out. The family run company recognizes damaged hair, frizzy hair and even time honored hair.
Let’s Talk Towels is the fifth vendor that received a lot of attention. Their 100% cotton towels are imported directly from Turkey. Let’s Talk Towels sells towels you can wear as a wrap or scarf. You can also use it as a blanket, as well as after a beach day or bathing. What was so appealing to those attending the event was the authenticity, quality, high luster and softness of the towels. They are also extremely versatile. This is an important selling point to us consumers, because we need products that can accompany us while doing all the experiences life has to offer.
These five vendors were only a small portion of the merchandise displayed. However, these five provide women fashion-forward garments, beauty products and lifestyle services. The innovative characteristic of retail is what makes it so alluring. There is always a new trend or design produced to better past trends or create a new one! Merchandisers are truly innovative and often times, the most innovative product is quirky and hand-made. The Southern Women’s Show reminds us that authentic, detail-oriented and unconventional products are the best kinds of products!