The Scoop – Winter 2021
Hooked on Honey
As a specialty honey and bee-themed shop, Bear Hug Honey Company stocks the tastiest artisan honey, candles, skin care, pottery and apparel, perfect for holiday gift giving or personal enjoyment.
Sam Johnson, a graduate of UGA in 2006, discovered his love for honey and the beautiful bees that create it while volunteering at local farmers markets. After digging around in the honey pot, Johnson opened Bear Hug Honey Company’s doors in April 2017. The store, complete with a honey tasting bar, showcases the bees and their keepers with products that instill great pride.
Get hooked on the sweet life and experience Johnson’s love for the bees and honey at Bear Hug Honey Company.
Photo courtesy of Bear Hug Honey Company
Started by Janet Geddis in 2011, Avid Bookshop on Lumpkin Street in Athens’ Five Points neighborhood has been a local favorite since its beginning. While the bookstore focuses on supporting the local community economically and culturally, it is equally important that they support readers’ and writers’ voices.
With incredibly knowledgeable staff and a wide variety of engaging reads, Avid has found itself on the Bulldog 100 list three years in a row. It’s clear they make an important impact on the community with fast-growing business and an ever-growing passion for reading. Geddis is even a UGA alumna — the cherry on top of a tasteful Avid Bookshop sundae.
Since they are heavily focused on community engagement you can find a plethora of book club events centralized on reads they carry in shop. There is no membership fee but the only way to take part is by buying — or borrowing — the book. The store also hosts many book launches, celebrating new titles by local and non-local authors. Ticket and pre-order options vary, so be sure to check out the event information if you’re interested!
Peruse Avid’s book selection at www.avidbookshop.com.
Red Garden Basket
Melanie Davis has a passion for flowers and gardening. Her special appreciation for color and smell allowed her to turn that passion into a business.
Working formerly in sales and marketing in Atlanta, then for Johnson & Johnson and eventually owning her own consulting business, stress became a near constant in her life.
Davis began her gardening venture shortly after having her two sons; she realized that connecting with nature would be an incredible outlet and teaching tool. “I wanted to get my boys outside and connect them to nature more,” Davis said.
“We started growing vegetables,” she recalled. “I just became obsessed with gardening and growing.” Davis started online education in growing flowers using sustainable methods. Being knowledgeable in these practices allowed her to see the environmental impact behind mass flower production — especially out of season.
Sensitive to sustainability and conservation growing practices, Davis and her husband turned their backyard into a micro-cut flower farm with raised plant beds to grow seasonal blooms throughout the year. “My creative side came out in growing color and flowers,” said Davis. Growing her own flowers, complete with naturally-fed chickens, ensures organic growth that is completely sustainable.
Now Davis offers beautiful seasonal flower arrangements that capture joy and express sentiment. “When I consult with a person and they give me the sentiment, I really get into it,” she mentioned. For Davis, being able to customize and personalize the arrangement is incredibly meaningful. “The best thing about any arrangement is seeing somebody’s expression,” said Davis. “People don’t really understand how much it gives back to me as well. I get to be reminded every day that there’s a lot of good.”
It is to no surprise that a lot of what we do and create as humans produces a lot of waste, whether visible or invisible. Much of this is true of the textile industry, but we don’t often think about the extensive processes behind creating a piece of clothing, throw pillow or blanket.
Textiles from decades ago were created differently than the ones we currently see and use, but Aloka is committed to creating new, by using old. At the heart of the business is a team that has a passion for restyling old quilts made of saris into something fresh and unique that fits into everyday life. Aloka creates pillows and placemats that bring a unique, but cohesive style that is one of a kind.
The creation process is meticulously detailed, starting with the selection of the quilt. “The softness is very much unique to Aloka quilts. You know them when you feel them,” mentions Amy Flurry. Each quilt, created 60-80 years ago, is made up of eight to ten layers of saris, with some classified as vintage, others, antique. Carefully sourced in India for their integrity and design, the textile is then shampooed and overdyed with a custom color to freshen it up — if necessary. These revitalized quilts are then cut and stitched together in their Atlanta studio to create pillows that showcase the breathtaking style and design.
In particular, Aloka seeks the work of the Young Designers Sewing Program (YDSP) in Athens to hand-sew the blanket stitch around their placemats — which are created using fabric remnants. YDSP is a non-profit organization that focuses specifically on teaching the art of sewing and other social skills to those who live at or below the poverty level. The program’s goal is to enrich kids’ learning experiences — whether it be academic, life or social skills — as a way to help prepare them for a future workplace.
Not only is Aloka creating beautiful home staples with rejuvenated sari fabric but they’re giving back to the local young community by providing them with opportunities for learning and growth.
You can find Aloka’s beautiful textile pillows, quilts and placemats on www.alokahome.com. For more information on the Young Designers Sewing Program visit www.youngdesignerssewing.org.
Little Light Co.
By Griffin Nelson
Less than a century ago, candles were a requirement in most homes. Certainly, there might be a fire in the hearth or stove but a portable light was necessary to get around a home. With the invention of electric lighting one might have thought that the popularity of candles would fade. Not so! It turns out there is more to a candle than just giving light. Though the glow of a candle certainly sets a cozy mood, there are also scents that lend a certain atmosphere or feeling — and often say something about the person who has chosen it. Sourcing candles locally means that not only is there a higher chance of finding scents reflective of the community, but it is also a way to support the local economy in the process.
Little Light Co. is Athens’ very own, woman-owned, small candle shop. Founded by Beth Hughes, the company has grown leaps and bounds since its inception eight years ago. Like many businesses, it started off as a creative outlet while working in the corporate world. “I just wanted a creative path and an excuse to play in the kitchen,” she says. It wasn’t long before she realized she had a knack for layering fragrances to give off a certain comfort without being overpowering. “I want them well-balanced and well-blended.” She caps the number of scents at three per candle, not wanting any to be too complicated or busy, preferring clean, natural, apothecary aromas.
The first candle she ever made was called Lavender & Lace. Purely lavender, the scent was inspired by people that were important to her. She had inherited a lot of lace from her grandmothers who also had lavender gardens and at the time her friend, Marti (of Marti’s at Midday), had been going to France a lot, bringing back lavender from her trips. Whether it’s that single original scent or any of the combinations she has created since the early days, the goal is to create a candle that can be burned for hours in a bedroom, kitchen or bathroom without being too intense. As Hughes puts it, “I want a candle that anyone can burn for six hours and it’ll be uplifting and not overwhelming.”
So far her most popular scent has been Porch Swing, one of her “Seven Scents of the South.” Other popular scents include Ginkgo — inspired by Athens, and Heywood — a more masculine blend of scents than some of her other candles, named after her son. “I come up with an emotion and the candle follows. I love my grandmothers. I love my son. I love Athens.” As the years have come and gone, she has collaborated with artists and other local companies that have allowed her to get creative and continue blending candles that inspire her. “I’m the main ingredient in every single one of these candles. I won’t do it unless it comes from me,” she says, staying true to her brand while still being able to work with other companies. Little Light Co. is entirely authentic — both to Athens and to the woman who founded it.
Her newly renovated studio provides space for work and inspiration, located just behind her home under huge trees that ground the property to Athens and make it feel as though Little Light Co. has been part of the community for generations. Hughes’ candles can be purchased online but, in an effort to shop small and local this holiday season, consider buying her southern inspired scents at any of the area locations listed at www.littlelightco.com. Though perhaps not necessary to light a home in the 21st century, there’s no beating the feel of home that a handcrafted candle can give, inspired by Athens, created and poured by one of its own.