Kenny Gray

A film with a social conscience, Romeo will be submitted to next year’s Way Down Film Festival in October 2018. The short film is based on true events from the life of Kenny Gray, a photographer and visual artist, and touches on important themes that are relevant today.


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Many Columbus natives recognize the name Kenny Gray for his astounding commercial and fine art photography career (which was recently archived by Columbus State University), but few are familiar with his budding film career. What began with an underground film entry at last year’s Way Down Film Festival has blossomed into a new passion for Gray. Kenny sat down with us at SVM to talk art, film, and his upcoming project Romeo.

Tell us about the movie in general. Where did you get the idea? What inspired you to tell this story? Well, all of my work is autobiographical in nature, and when I say all my work I mean basically forty years of fine art photography. It comes directly from my life. Sometimes it’s really obvious, like a self-portrait, sometimes it’s not, but my best ideas are things that I know and experience. So the idea for Romeo—I don’t want to go into a lot of detail about it, because it’s kind of personal—but it came directly from something that happened within my immediate family. And that grew into Romeo over a period of a year, just the idea gestating and forming into something that started to become a story.

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Your cast and crew are pretty much all from Columbus. Was that your intention from the beginning? Why did you make that decision? Yes, it was my intention. I’m not sure when I made that conscious decision. I knew at CSU’s Riverside Theatre there were a lot of really talented people there, and I had several roles that I needed young people for. So that was in the back of my mind, that that was a resource for me, a pool of talent that I could draw on. Of course, I’ve known about the Springer—so I think it was really just knowing that we had the resources here, knowing that I had no budget whatsoever—so that was really it. I didn’t want to go out of Columbus. Just about the time I was thinking that I might want to make [Romeo], the Columbus State Magazine was in my mailbox, and I opened it up and there was an article on the Georgia Film Academy and Ginger Steele [Romeo's assistant director] was prominently featured in the article, and I read about her and what she was doing and was like, she could really help me do this, she could really be helpful. So once she said yes, things snowballed, and she had just been working on the Bo Bartlett film, and she started contacting other people that had worked on it. The core of our crew came directly from Bo Bartlett’s film.

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There was a good bit of local support in terms of location shooting and things like that. How did that feel, to have the community support you in that way? It felt great. Because I needed all the help I could get, first of all. I wrote the film knowing there were going to be two locations: we wanted to have the first few scenes at Country’s on Broad. It was so important to me, to be able to shoot at Country’s. I started asking people if they knew Jim Morpeth, and finally I just sent him a message and he said sure! The other location had to be an impressive Victorian home, and I’ve got a friend, Gloria Sampson, a very notable local artist, and she and her husband restored the Bullard-Hart-Sampson House on Third Avenue. It occurred to me that she had this incredible house—and I’d never even seen the house except just driving by—so I asked her if she would be willing to let us shoot a short film in her home and she said sure! It was just perfect for what we needed.

We got support from property owners, business owners—I needed a Classic Alpha Romeo, and Stan Murray, a local musician, got in touch with me and he ended up lending us his car for two shoots. So quite a bit of support and encouragement from the community.

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You have a very extensive and impressive career in photography and visual arts. What made you take this venture into film?  [Film] is something that’s always kind of been in the back of my mind. The reason that I ended up writing was really the Way Down Film Festival. When they announced Way Down in early 2016, I thought, “I’m gonna try this.” I had just reached an agreement with the CSU Archives: they were going to take basically all my fine art work and archive it, so that was kind of a capstone on my career. It was like, whoa, it’s going to be saved somewhere, and I’ve been doing it for a real long time, and why don’t I go ahead and try this other thing? I love narrative, I’m fascinated with narrative and stories; it’s always been a part of my work.

For my 2016 Way Down Film Festival entry, I shot video on my iPhone, I used some of my recent work, I used some of my wife Brenda’s watercolors, and just did this kind of kinetic multimedia thing. Very personal, very autobiographical, with some really evocative music. I had a lot of fun, and just kind of got the bug. It was such a great experience and I got so much encouragement that I decided that I was going to make some kind of film for this year’s Way Down. I started working on a documentary and got pretty far into it…and realized that it was too big. I wasn’t going to be able to get it done for this year’s Festival. So that’s when I started writing screenplays early in 2017, thinking “I need something really short that I can write and shoot in a weekend and get in this year’s Festival.” And so I immediately took this germ of an idea that I mentioned previously—something that had happened in my family—and that’s when I wrote Romeo.

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Do you have any plans to release Romeo to a larger audience? I want to see Romeo. I’m waiting now to meet Romeo. Until I see at least a rough cut and see what we’ve got, I’m not making any plans for it. I’m hoping it’s going to be really, really good…there are indications that it will be, but I just don’t know! If it’s not great, it won’t be because of my cast and crew! It’ll be because I didn’t do my job, or because we really didn’t have enough time to get it ready to shoot. I’d like for anything I do that’s worthwhile to reach a wide audience, that’s what film festivals are for, that’s what online platforms are for, is to get it out there so a lot of people can see it. Romeo has a social conscience. It’s about some important things, and it deserves a wider audience. Not just because it’s a good film—there’s a message there. Because of the times we’re living in, I think the message is especially relevant. So we’ll see!

What kind of challenges or unexpected hardships did you find in the process? There were a lot of challenges. I didn’t know very much. I knew I had a good script because so many people told me I had a good script, so I had that going for me. My background is visual arts, so I haven’t had a lot of experience collaborating with other people, so that was both a challenge for me and a great pleasure. I knew that I had to do it, I knew that it was healthy, I knew it was going to give me a better film if I invited all these people to have creative input and to help me and that was a challenge. But it worked out really well. I’d never worked with actors before, I found that to be challenging, exhilarating, frustrating…because I had such great help, such a great cast and crew, the biggest challenge we all faced was a lack of rehearsal time.

The biggest challenge was trying to get the actors rehearsed so that I was comfortable going into filming. If we’d had six months to rehearse it, I would’ve felt more comfortable going in to the one weekend we had for shooting.

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What else would you like to say to the audience of Romeo? There are two things that I want to emphasize. One is that we’ve got a lot of talent in Columbus, from the CSU theatre, to the Springer, to the Georgia Film Academy, just a lot of talent. We’ve got so many resources that somebody like me can draw on, and when you add in the Way Down Film Festival and all the excitement about that…without Way Down, none of this would have happened. SVM

Romeo needs an executive producer. If you are interested or want to make a tax deductible donation, contact Kenny at, for more information. Learn more about Romeo on its Facebook page: Romeo: A Film by Kenny Gray.

Pace Halter

New COO of W.C. Bradley Co., Pace Halter, takes the lead on the Riverfront Place complex in downtown Columbus. With the 4-phase project underway, he is determined in creating the ultimate luxury living concept located right on the Chattahoochee.

Downtown is one of the fastest growing regions in Columbus, and with new local shops and restaurants emerging, it’s clear why. Not only is it the best place to grab a bite, downtown is home to one of the largest river walks in the south, right alongside the Chattahoochee River. With this fairly new amenity, there has become a greater demand for riverfront living.

The success of downtown’s expansion can be largely credited to the W.C. Bradley Co. With experienced staff, including their new COO, Pace Halter, W.C. Bradley CO. is undertaking the largest building project in downtown’s history. Riverfront Place will be a large, 4-phase complex complete with apartments, various amenities, and a public park. The best part? The whole complex overlooks Columbus’s greatest resource, the Chattahoochee Riverwalk. SVM sat down with Pace Halter to discuss the new complex and the appeal of downtown living.



You’re the new President and COO of WC Bradley CO. You have a lot of real estate experience. What is your background in this field? I started doing real estate finances and construction lending for about 7 years. In 2001, I started my own company that I’ve run for the last 16 years. We did residential and commercial developments all around the southeast. We’ve done single family residential, multi family, mixed use retail offices, and pretty much everything besides high rise offices. I have had a huge amount of experience between the last 20 years.

You’ll be replacing Matt Swift on the Riverfront Project, can you explain what the project is and when it is expected to be completed? I was hired about a year and a half ago as a consultant to help specifically with the Eagle and Phoenix project. They had 13 unsold units, and I was brought in to help them revamp the sales and marketing strategy. Over an 18-month period, that relationship grew, ultimately leading to what is now Riverfront Place and creating a master plan for the Rapids. Matt called and announced that he planned to retire. They started the search for someone to fill his place, and I was interested.

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Can you explain what the project is and when is it expected to be completed? For us, it’s a multi-phase, multi-year project. If you step back and look at the project as a whole, it will include two multifamily projects, the Rapids being the first of those. There will be an office component, ideally a hotel component and then a significant amount of retail--from small clothing stores and restaurants to a grocery store.

The Rapids itself will have both a restaurant and shop space. It is the first component of the project; containing 226 residences with restaurant properties overlooking the river walk. The beauty of the master plan is that all four of our buildings center around what we call Legacy Park. The public park will center around the components and directly connect to the Riverwalk. It is essentially a green space that is opened for the public. Our goal is to tie Uptown, Front Avenue, and Broadway to the Riverwalk.

What kinds of shops and restaurants can people expect to enjoy when the project is completed? We don’t have any tenants signed up yet. But ideally, it’ll be a healthy mix of national and local retailers and restaurateurs. Columbus has a young but growing restaurant scene that can be tapped into. My preference for the grocery store wouldn’t be a huge chain, because they wouldn’t fit in the space we have. It would be more ideal to have a smaller grocery store that has a boutique, market style.

How will the new Riverfront estate effect downtown Columbus? The short answer is that we hope it effects Columbus significantly. We at W.C. Bradley are in a fortunate position because we own a lot of real estate downtown. We don’t expect to be and know we can’t be the sole driver of the growth of downtown. Our hope is that our projects foster the development of that growth. Even in my short time here, I’ve seen a ton of movement in the properties downtown. We’re seeing more national retailers, such as Barberitos and Kilwins. Our hope is that our belief and commitment to downtown gives other companies the confidence to also invest in the area.


What other perks and amenities will residents get to enjoy when living in the Rapids apartment complex? There are two components to that question. I’ve mentioned Legacy Park, which is more of a public benefit but it benefits the project as a whole because it offers a gathering place, green space, and a place for fun activities. Whether you stop on your way to the river to get a drink, come for a movie in the park, or want to spend a day with your family in the park and get lunch, the park benefits the whole community and our local retailers. The Rapids will be very unique and exciting, because it’s a building whose design is unlike any other in Columbus.

The project will incorporate a significant outdoor component, with three elevated outdoor courtyards that sit in the center of the building. There will be a pool, outdoor fire pit, seating area, TVs, grilling areas, and much more. Overlooking that space, the inside club room will feature game tables, a computer center, and a fitness center.

Why do you think people are so drawn to the Riverwalk? What is unique about this location along the river walk is that, to my knowledge, it is the only undeveloped place in Uptown where you have the availability to go from Front Avenue to the river walk on the same elevation. We’ve designed the site to play off of that. You’ll be able to walk straight from Legacy Park onto the river walk. We’ve worked hard to enhance that, like adding a ton of outdoor seating to our restaurant that will overlook the water.

The Riverwalk is the biggest amenity in town. It has so many activities there, like the zip line and splash pad, where people are drawn to. We’re just trying to play off of that. 


When will people be able to tour your apartments and where can someone with interest in purchasing an apartment in Riverfront get more information? Hopefully we’ll have our discovery center opened in a year. We’re about 20 months away from being able to move people into the apartments. Ideally, we will open about a year from now, but you can visit the website to see sample floor plans and look at the amenities we offer. In addition, we have a Facebook page that we update daily and you can register on our website to receive more information.

Finish this sentence. The best thing about Columbus is: Its future. I really believe this town is really well positioned for what I would call explosive growth. There is a lot that’s happening right now, from hotel developments to new restaurants and shops. It’s going to be fun to watch Columbus’s growth in the next 5 to 10 years. SVM

Bo Bartlett

Nationally acclaimed painter and Columbus local Bo Bartlett is venturing into a new form of expression, film. In his new film Things Don’t Stay Fixed, Bo draws inspiration from his childhood in Columbus and the charm of our small city.

Interview by HELEN SANDERS  Photos by S.Saxon


For Bo Bartlett, Columbus has always been home. Throughout his career as a painter, Bo has been inspired by his upbringing in Columbus. Bo found himself painting the things he knew: his town and his family. He dreamed that his paintings had movement, which inspired him to pursue film. In 1986, he followed his passion and began attending the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. In the late 80s, films were produced with celluloid film and scotch tape. Today, Bo Bartlett uses high tech equipment, but his passion for moving art has not changed. SVM got a chance to sit down with Bo to discuss his latest project, the film Things Don’t Stay Fixed, the challenges of film making, and how he draws inspiration from his hometown.

Things Don’t Stay Fixed isn’t your first film; what is your background in filmmaking and how did your previous films help you prepare for this one? I went to film school at NYU in 1986. I was five years out of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and I had been dreaming about my paintings moving and I thought “how cool would it be if I could make that happen.” Then it dawned on me that there was already such a thing as “moving pictures”... the movies, film. So, I went to film school. It was a very analog process back then, very hands on. We cut real celluloid film with razor blades and edited with scotch tape. I had the idea for Things Don’t Stay Fixed back then. My screenwrite teacher inspired me to go hunt down a good playwright to help craft my dream. Sandra Deer had just finished a short-lived run on Broadway of her play, So Long on Lonely Street.

It was shut down before TIME Magazine had a chance to review it, writing that it was the best new play of the decade. Sandra and I hit it off right away. It took five years to write Things Don’t Stay Fixed. After we finished, it was optioned in Hollywood for a while. Meanwhile, I worked with Betsy Wyeth making Snowhill the official documentary on the life and art of Andrew Wyeth. It was an award-winning documentary that played on many PBS stations for years. I’ve made many shorts, documentary shorts and documentaries over the years, most recently SEE - an art road trip made with my wife Betsy Eby. Each project is different. I balance filmmaking with my art practice, painting all the while as I film and edit.


One well known quote from you is “the purpose of art is to wake us up.” How are you achieving this through the film?  Things Don’t Stay Fixed is about waking up. It is about what it feels like to evolve and expand beyond our comfort zone. Although the title is a Southern play on the William Butler Yeats line, “things fall apart,” it suggests the human attempt to fix things, mend things, our constant struggle in our life to have control, and the growth that happens when we surrender. The initial set up for the film is a world-renowned photojournalist returns to the Deep South to try to stop his daughter’s wedding, to save her future, but discovers that it is he who has been stuck in the past. It is a midlife coming of age film.

How does the creative process with your paintings deviate or compare to your creative process when you’re making a film?  They play off each other. Painting and filmmaking are very interconnected for me. Most of my films have to do with art, my own or others. It is a way to explore in words, sound music, and movement, which is an extension of the ideas I explore in painting. I know how to paint; it is second nature to me. Filmmaking is much more challenging. One must really have their wits about them, all cylinders have to be driving at once. There is no time to sit back and contemplate your next move. Filmmaking is a collaborative art. It is extremely difficult. It is miracle when a film comes together and is finished and sees the light of day.

 Actors on set.

Actors on set.

What or who inspires and influences you in both mediums of art? My favorite films and favorite paintings have a lot in common. I like the classics. In painting, I like darker serious paintings which explore human psychology- Titian, Hammershoi, Eakins, Homer, Hopper. In film, I like Ingmar Bergman and Tarkovsky. But, I also like big films with magic like It’s a Wonderful Life and Wizard of Oz. I love the wide open films about a character’s inner-outer world such as Stuart Rosenberg’s Cool Hand Luke.


You chose to direct and produce your film in Columbus, GA, along with choosing local actors to star in it. Why did you make these decisions to stay local and what impact has Columbus had in your life? I grew up in Columbus. I love Columbus. Most of my paintings are set in Columbus or inspired by events from my childhood in Columbus. The rule of thumb for a creative project is to write what you know. Write about your own backyard. Your experiences are yours alone, but if you write about them in a truthful way, they will strike a universal chord. Others will be able to relate because of the veracity of the experience. Sandra Deer and I co-wrote the screenplay setting it in Columbus. We could have made it a mythical Southern town, but I wanted to honor Columbus, to give back. I hope that people will appreciate the film and see it that way. I hope that it’ll shine a favorable light on this little corner of the world.

What familiar locations can people expect to recognize in your upcoming film? Was transferring your vibrant images from paintings to film an easy process?  The people of Columbus were amazing during our filming. We couldn’t have made this film anywhere else, starting with Columbus State and their Georgia Film Academy students who served as interns. They weren’t just learning the tricks of the trade on our set, they were hands on crew members. We are a low budget feature and the people of Columbus appreciated that and at every turn went out of their way to accommodate and help us get locations and services for free or the lowest possible rate. St. Elmo Home, The Illges House, Dinglewood Pharmacy, AJ McClung Stadium, Goethcious House, the Historic District, the Park District, The River, The River Walk, River Road, Broadway, Frank Romeo’s in St. Elmo Plaza, Victory Drive, Linwood Cemetery, Oakhurst Farms, and Bartlett’s Ferry Dam, among many other locations will be easily recognizable for a local audience. Each location is itself, not doubling for someplace else.


Tell us about the characters in your upcoming film. Tell us about the main actors. Any recognizable faces? The actors and crew are all Georgia born or bred, with only a couple of exceptions. Stacy Cunningham is the Producer. She put together a stellar team. She spent time in Columbus prior to her career in Hollywood. She has returned to make films in Georgia. She co-founded the Way Down Film Festival, a great “shorts” festival that I encourage all to attend. Our actors are from Columbus and Atlanta. Some had to travel from LA but have heritage in Columbus. A few of the principals are William Gregory Lee (Zena, Warrior Princess), Tara Ochs and David Marshall Silverman (both featured in the film Selma), veteran Atlanta stage actress, Brenda Bynum, Melissa St. Amand, and Lucy Sheftall. Local actors include Lorenzo Battle, Yolanda Sewell, Desi Owens, and Jonah Miller. Paul Pierce and the Springer were very helpful with casting. SVM

Dinglewood Pharmacy Turns 100

In an era dominated by CVS, Walgreen’s and Rite-Aid, it’s increasingly rare to find a locally-owned Mom-and-Pop-style pharmacy. But this year marks the 100th anniversary of Dinglewood Pharmacy: an independently-owned Columbus establishment where owner Terry Hurley says everybody knows your name. SVM swings by to learn more about Dinglewood, their world-famous scramble dogs and hear how the pharmacy business has transformed over the past century.


What can you tell us about the history of Dinglewood Pharmacy?
In the late 1890s and early 1900s, the Wheat brothers had a pharmacy in the Swift Building on Broad St in Columbus.  As the town grew Eastward they decided to expand by putting another pharmacy out the trolley line toward the Wynnton Academy.  The roads out here were sttill unpaved and homes were large but few and far between.  The new location was placed at what is now the intersection of Wynnton and B. Vista roads and opened for business on Nov 13th, 1918. It was typical setup with soda fount dry goods, health needs and a prescription room.  Almost all rxs were compounded in that era as the drug companies had yet to start making drugs to be dispensed.  note;  the first prescription filled at the new location was for newborn baby girl Richards whose home was near pharmacy.  Rx was for "Baby Richards" for paregoric from Dr Mercer Blanchard, Sr.   Baby was Marguerite Richards (Tom's Foods) later to become Mrs Wm Feighner. 


After 2 years, Eli Wheat the store to r Shackleford, who in turn later sold to Mr Shanks, who sold about 1926 to Mr Alan Hill upon whose death around 1950, the family sold the store to Mr Bill Wall.  Mr Wall operated the store and in 1963 moved from its origional location one block up the street to Mr Kings new shopping center (Dinglewood Shopping Center).   During the next 10 years the pharmacy outgrew its location and Mr  Wall purchased the present location from Gene Woolfolk and build the existing building and moved into it in May of 1973.   I purchased the store from Mr Wall in 1975.

Why do you thinks the Pharmacy has been so successful all these years?
I think the business has been successful because, through the different owners, Dinglewood has always considered itself to be a part of the community.  We do our best to serve and to serve well, but we do our dead level best to put back as well.  Like any other small business (especially in the past) you had to enrich that which enriches you.  Our customers have always been considered and I hope treated as friends and neighbors.  Their grandchildren are friends with our grandchildren etc.  


Could you tell us a little about your career as a pharmacist and when you became a pharmacy owner?
I was born in LaGrange, Ga but raised in my parent's hometown of Wedowee,  When I was 12, Mr Everett Mullican asked me if I would like to wash dishes on the fountain of Wedowee Drug Co. I of course jumped at the chance.  I stood on Coca Cola crates to reach the sink to keep dishes, pots and pans ready.  As I grew taller, I could scoop ice cream, make shakes, sodas, 'naner splits etc.  I worked there until I graduated in 1959.  When I learned that I might be able to go to college, the only job I had ever know and loved dictated my path at Auburn (Alabama Polytechnic Institute at that time and  because Auburn University in January of 1960.)  To work my way through school, I worked on the soda fountain at the Union Building and commuted to Columbus to work in the pharmacy for Carl Jacobs, owner olf Jacobs Pharmacy on Wynnton Road.  Mr Jake and Clanton Chandler were opening a new store near St Francis so when I graduated, I went to Chandlers at Rosemont in 1964.   After Kathy and I married in 1968, I began to do "relief" work for other pharmacies in the area for the extra money and the experience.   Later in the mid 70's, I learned of Mr Wall's intent to sell Dinglewood and with the help of Jim Yancey and lots of support from friends and relatives,as they say, here we are.  To date, the most fulfilling almost half-century anyone could have asked for.


What would you say is the biggest challenge facing independent pharmacy owners in our nation or in Columbus in particular?
The vast changes in the health care system and the ramification that has had on business as usual had made this a brand new ball game.   Patients can no longer decide for themselves how they are treated, who can treat them or where they are to be treated.    Big businesses and Corps that used to have the "We" attitude about employees and community are now so driven by the bottom line that they totally  disregard everything we have always known.   The independent pharmacies are shut out and have their hands tied even though they are still the most logical, accesible, safest and in many cases, the most cost effective answer to many of the problems. Don't get me started. When the drug companies that are our competition own the insurance companies that control my business, what does that say about the present system.  But still, we are here and will be for years to come.


What sorts of things are you doing at Dinglewood Pharmacy that are unique and not necessarily available at other pharmacies in Columbus?  
We are serving 5th and one 6th generation families here in the pharmacy and on the soda fountain.  It is a proud day when a family brings its offspring in for his or her first scrambled dog.  Rambling   During the depression and wars for meat shortage the franks were split length-wise and a "half-a-dog" and a coke was 6 cents.  The "scrambled Dog" was first served by Mr Firm Roberts (sp) out on benning road I believe in the late forties for a short time.   When mr Roberts business closed, Sport Brown put his touch on the prep and continued using the name.  I am sure there are several versions of this story, but this is the only one I know.   


What is the best thing about living in Columbus?
I love living in Columbus for so many reasons.  It has become home to me and is home to my children, grandchildren and soon to be great grandchild.  We have continue to evolve.


MKP Waxing Salon *Video interview

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What background do you have in the waxing and beauty business? I graduated from the Rivertown School of Beauty in Columbus with a license in esthetics. Since graduating, I have continued my education through additional master classes in waxing, skin care, and leadership. Our other esthetician, Stephanie, received her esthetics license from Columbus Technical College and is also licensed as a medical skin care specialist. Stephanie strives to continue her education as well, most recently attending a beauty conference in Florida. Between us, we have a combined 16 years of experience in waxing the body and face. Though we are both qualified to perform other skin care services, we have decided to focus on, and specialize in, waxing.

What are the benefits of waxing? Waxing offers several benefits for both your skin and your hair. Clients who stick to a regular wax schedule will experience smoother skin, thinner hair, and the confidence that comes with feeling clean and smooth.

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What would you tell someone who wants to get waxed, but is afraid it will hurt?
Waxing is an uncomfortable experience, however the benefits greatly outweigh any discomfort. As long as you maintain a regular waxing schedule and do not shave the area in between waxes, the service will become less and less uncomfortable over time. Furthermore, the discomfort is short lived. If you want to get the service done, we recommend just going for it! We have been open for nearly 3 years and have yet to have someone feel the need to stop their service before it was completed.

How is MKP different from other waxing salons in our area? What sets MKP apart from our competitors is that we are the only salon in the area that focuses entirely on waxing. This focus allows us to offer a broader range of waxing services at a very competitive rate.

What waxing options do you offer and how much do you charge for each one? If there is hair growing on an area of your body, we will wax it! Some of our most popular services include the women’s Brazilian wax, $49.00, eyebrow waxing, $13.00, under arm waxing, $10.00-$15.00, facial waxing, $35.00, men’s back waxing, $52.00, and the men’s Bro-zilian wax, $64.00. Prices are set based on the amount of time, product, and skill needed to complete the service. For a full list of services, please visit our website,!

What do you hope people will feel when they’re leaving your salon? We hope people leave our salon feeling beautiful, clean, and confident. We also strive to make sure our clients leave feeling educated about their waxing service and their skin care. Our service doesn’t stop when a client walks out the door. We offer a list of skin care tips to all of our clients and are always happy to answer any specific skin care questions over the phone. We want our clients to receive the best result possible, and this is achieved through a combination of a great service at the salon and continued home care until they return.


Dakota Johnson

She is the daughter of Hollywood-Stars DonJohnson and Melanie Griffith. But this year will catapult 24 year old Dakota Johnson to her own stardom due to the highly talk about release of “Fifty Shades Darker” - the sequel to the “50 Shades of Grey”- in which she plays Anastasia Steel. In this interview, Dakota reveals how she deals with the pressure of having to be an instant
success and what she really thinks about making the controversial movie.


Dakota Mayi Johnson was born on October 4, 1989 in Austin, Texas. Growing up, Johnson was surrounded by celebrity. Her parents, Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith, were one of Hollywood’s most recognizable stars of the ‘80s, and her maternal grandmother is actress Tippi Hedren. Johnson was also Antonio Banderas’ stepdaughter from her mother’s longtime marriage to the Spanish actor (the couple divorced in 2015).

Johnson grew up in Colorado but later attended schools in Monterey and Santa Monica, California. An avid dancer as a child, Johnson eventually pursued modeling before transitioning into acting. Her big screen debut was alongside her mom in Crazy in Alabama (1999). Post high school, Johnson appeared in a string of films including The Social Network (2010) and 21 Jump Street (2012) before landing her most pivotal role yet: playing Anastasia Steele in the film adaptation of Fifty Shades of Grey (2015).

It was “Fifty Shades of Grey” that catapulted her to fame. When she was asked about the pressure on being on that film she responded: “Not really. I always want to deliver good work. No matter what. It’s not any different with this project. But of course l understand the added spice with “50 Shades of Grey”. It was a worldwide bestseller after all. But I can assure you that the fans of the books won’t be disappointed. I think both movies (50 Shades of Grey and Fifty Shades Darker) will fulfill all the expectations.”


“Once I found out that the movie was going to be made, I called my manager right away and tried to get an audition. At this point I hadn’t even read the books.” She stated after she was asked if she was the one actually pursuing this role.
When Dakota was asked that there were some wild rumors floating around that his father, Don Johnson, supposedly said that he won’t watch both movies because his daughter had some kinky scenes in the movie she answered: “I heard the same thing. I thought it was funny. My father and my mother are professionals. They’ve been in this business for ages. They support me in every possible way, and in all my professional decisions. I know that my mother read the books before I did and before this project was even in the planning. And I am almost certain both of my parents are very proud of my work and can’t wait to see the movies. Besides, in all honesty, the scenes weren’t that sexy while we were shooting them. It’s not a real romantic situation. There is a lot of technology involved on the set. And it’s extremely important to be able to trust the crew, your partner. Jamie (Dornan) was amazing. He’s just a great and wonderful person.”

In Fifty Shades Darker, we see Dakota and Jamie leading separate lives having called it a day, before being drawn back together through those shared interests. But not without a fight – and it isn’t your average tiff. Strong words, loud noises, and being restrained in handcuffs is all in a normal weekend for Ana and Christian.
Ana really explores herself, and this whole other world, in the first book. In the second book, Ana becomes a woman and that was a really interesting thing to play, Johnson added. She also thought that the movie was an incredible story. “It was such different content, so I wanted to be a part of it. The sort of woman she becomes; the strength, the grace and the honor she carries with her the whole time. I think she is an extraordinary woman and incredibly strong.”



Her chemistry with co-star Jamie Dornan was palpable throughout the movie. When asked about working with Dornan she replied: “Yes, it was so great working with him. It was the first time I had come back to a character and a cast. It was so special. You create a family and it was great to be back together. We had so much fun.” This time around Johnson was more relaxed, more at ease with her character and the pressure of making the sequel more attractive. “There was a bit of pressure removed, yes. We knew what we were getting into, so were definitely more comfortable. In some ways it was a longer haul, there was more work and a lot more to do, but it seemed like we were in capable hands and we knew what was going on more than the first time” she added.

Dakota received lots of critics after 50 Shades of Grey. The film scored a dismal 8 percent rating from critics surveyed by Rotten Tomatoes film site. On the other hand, audiences seem OK with it. The movie got a 70 percent rating from movie-goers. When she was asked if that bothered her she responded: “I don’t have Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, I don’t have too many friends, period! I am not the kind of person who can read bad things that people who don’t know me say, and have it like water off my back. It hurts my feelings. I’m not good at not letting it matter. For a while, I didn’t like to be involved with what people thought of me. But now the film is actually something that they can have an opinion about. It’s interesting to be involved with something that is controversial.” She also stated that she did not discuss the role with her parents. “No. But both my mother and grandmother (actress Tippi Hedren) are two women who have had shocking female roles, and I find it interesting that my mother has done similar work. They support me completely. They understand it’s acting and I’m not going to do this all the time. My father is supportive, although he’s not going to see it. In fact, none of them are.”

Dakota added that she got into acting because of her family. “I wanted to be involved in films because of their influence. As I grew up on set, I was surrounded by filmmakers and storytellers. So I feel like it is all because of them. They guided my taste and exposed me to different kinds of films and their favorite movies and introduced me to outlets in this industry. It’s all their fault!” SVM

Sheila Slavich

Columbus author Sheila Slavich masterfully intertwines real-life historical events with fast paced fictional narrative in her new young adult novel Jumpin’ the Rails! The history of her antebellum home and the social politics of the Southern Civil War era provide inspiration for her latest project.

By Roberto Caligaris

Author Sheila Slavich currently lives in the historic Griggs Home which sits below Fort Tyler, a reconstructed Confederate Civil War Fort, just a mile west of the Chattahoochee River. Living in such a historic home made Slavich curious about the historical events that her home was witness to. With her background in journalism and writing, she began researching the history surrounding the region and asking acquaintances and friends questions concerning these sensitive issues about race and slavery. After 7 years of research and writing, Sheila Slavich is proud to announce Jumpin’ the Rails! is the recipient of the Literary Classics Seal of Approval. Slavich draws inspiration from her own life for the book. Her home is the touchpoint for the book’s historical setting, and her son is her inspiration for the main character of the novel.  Her experience of moving from Wisconsin to small-town Alabama and experiencing racial issues firsthand led her to explore historical racism in a modern context. SVM recently sat down with the author to find out more about what she learned during this process. 

Tell us the story behind the story. How did Jumpin’ the Rails come to be? It was a few days before my son’s Firs tGrade Brookstone class came on a field trip to tour our home and the Civil War fort that sits behind it.  I sat in the sunroom, looking at the cannon scars in the wall and paging through a folder filled with historic documents about the Battle of West Point. That was the beginning ofJumpin’ the Rails! – it began to take shape as I attempted to relate the events of long ago to my children, their friends and school groups who toured our home during the next several years.

The historical context of your book is during the Civil War; what message do you want readers to take away from your book? Fiction is excellent for teaching a time and a place or situations that a reader would otherwise never experience. My hope is that the reader will leave not only entertained but with a better understanding of why the war was fought, what it was like for individuals on both sides of the battle as well as from the perspective of people from a different race and of a different time.

What was the most challenging aspect of writing Jumpin’ the Rails? Historical research was the most challenging aspect of writing Jumpin’ the Rails! because some of the places, events and people I wrote in-depth about were unfamiliar to me. To have my characters interact in unfamiliar territory 150 years in the past meant I spent entire days and months researching maps of Gettysburg and the three-day Battle; its smell, its sounds, its weather conditions, and troop positions. I mapped out a route for my characters to travel through Pennsylvania and Virginia; first on foot and then on horseback. I’ve never ridden a horse in Virginia or anywhere else and so I researched that as well.

What difficulties are associated with mixing history and fiction together? Writing historical fiction is writing a fictional story with preset boundaries and requires detailed research. The fictional characters are able to live and act within the history but they are not allowed to change the greater historical outcome because then the novel moves to the genre of alternate history. My novel does have some minor elements of alternate history within the story, but it only involves the fictional characters. It does not affect or change the historical facts surrounding the Civil War.

How important is research and how do you approach researching for your novel? Research for a historical fiction novel is essential for the credibility of the novel and its success. It presents a challenge for the writer to maintain the history and yet allow the fictional characters to interact and develop their own unique perspective. My research began with an audio course on the Civil War from the University of Virginia. I managed to cover most of the war in the car during my children’s school commute from Lanett to Columbus. Reading books in the genre I was writing was also a part of my research and during that time I reread two of my favorite books, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Gone with The Wind. In addition, some of the Historical nonfiction I read was Killing Lincoln, and Confederates in the Attic. Also, the documentary on the Civil War by Ken Burns was insightful as were local historians who generously shared their knowledge of the war and our local involvement.

What have you learned from this experience? As a writer and now a published author, my appreciation for authors has deepened as has my understanding of the publishing process. Editing is the most grueling stage when done properly and the initial release is the most unsettling. Beyond my concern that the final draft sent to the printer would certainly have errors; I was most concerned that the sensitive issues of slavery and race would be hurtful to my readers. In addition, I learned a great deal about the Civil War. I have many favorite findings from this experience. One of them is Abraham Lincoln’s perspective on the war. He believed that the lives lost on both sides of the conflict were necessary to heal our country; that neither side was blameless.

This book received the Literary Classics Seal of Approval, what does that mean to you as a writer? As a writer, it is the reassurance that I created a piece of literature that is not only worth reading but more importantly educates and promotes positive values. The Literary Classics Seal of Approval means that the review committee, comprised of writers and publishing professionals, reviewed my novel and then recommended it for school and home libraries. I was thrilled to receive this honor and excited to think that my book will now rest on more library shelves and on the nightstand of young readers. The Literary Classics review of Jumpin’ the Rails! is available at the Literary Classics website as well as with my novel’s reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.

Your current residence has a historical connection to the Civil War, tell us about it. My home, The Griggs House, was caught in the cross-fire of the last fort to fall in the Civil War. The Union took over the house during the battle; seeking shelter within its 18-inch limestone walls. At the end of the day-long battle, the house had withstood direct cannon fire from the Confederate Fort and the wounded and dying from both sides were brought there as it served as a field hospital. My 1858 Greek Revival home is on the Alabama Register of Landmarks & Heritage. The cannon marks on the sunroom wall, the stories of the events surrounding the Battle of West Point, and some artifacts from that day 152 years ago, still remain. On the anniversary of the battle, the Fort Tyler Association hosts reenactments at the reconstructed Fort Tyler. From our backyard, we hear the laughter and chatter of the tours interacting with the re-enactors and an occasional musket fire throughout the day.

What books are on your nightstand? What are you currently reading? My bible and my iPad are on my nightstand. I became a fan of e-books during my research which sometimes involved reading late at night when my husband was asleep. One of my favorite reads in the last year was Go Set a Watchman, by Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird was one of my favorites from college and to have more to read from Lee was a treasure to hold. I am currently reading Our Man in Charleston by Christopher Dickey. It’s a novel about a British secret agent in the Civil War South.


Interviewed by Sammie Saxon

Born and raised in Columbus, Georgia, Ben Cope received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Columbus State University in ceramic sculpture and photography. After graduation, Ben relocated to the West Coast. He attended the Brooks Institute in California before working in Los Angeles as a lighting technician with Briese L.A. While at Briese, now B2Pro, Ben worked closely with high level fashion and celebrity photographers, including Steven Klein, Mark Seliger, Mark Abrahams and others. Eventually, Ben found his way to New York City—he continued his fashion photography work with Klein and Seliger. Ben’s work grew a following and Bob Dixon, owner and founder of 7 Artist Management, offered to represent him. Today, Ben is still with 7AM.

Currently, Ben lives and works in Downtown Los Angeles, shooting primarily commercial advertising and editorial fashion. He also shoots album packaging for many leading artists. Over the past few years, Ben has had the opportunity to work with huge artists like Chris Brown, Carly Rae Jepsen, Hilary Duff, Selena Gomez and Brandon Boyd.

In the past year, Ben has taken his eye for lighting and composition and turned it towards directing music videos and fashion films. He’s directed commercials for Sephora, RCA and Lifetime Television. His fashion videos have been featured on international platforms such as Schon! Magazine and CLIENT Magazine, both out of the United Kingdom.

You graduated from Columbus State University with a BFA in ceramic sculpture and photography. What made you decide to move to Los Angeles? I was just trying to get out of Georgia. I wanted to move to New York, but it really didn’t work out that way. I never really thought about going to the West Coast until a friend called and said they needed a roommate and I was like “Where and how much?” Next thing I knew I was driving across the country on my way to Oakland. I just kind of worked my way down the coast and fell into a job in Los Angeles.  It was never really my plan, but now I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

How did you become interested in photography? Why did you decide to make it a career?
My dad gave me a Nikon FG when I was a kid, but I was more interested in reading the manual and learning how the aperture and shutter speeds worked together. I was really into the technical side. It wasn’t until college that I really got interested in it. I just wanted to live in the darkroom and print images. I didn’t really realize I liked photographing people until later on, but looking back I guess I always felt like I wanted to capture a moment, an expression.
As far as the career side goes, I guess that was just the natural progression. Working nonstop for other photographers you get used to the life. Living out of a suitcase. Being in other countries for weeks sometimes. Never getting to sleep. Constantly moving and always having to be on point. I sure as hell wasn’t going from that to a 9 to 5. Working that hard for others made me want it for myself.  

What inspires you? I’m inspired to capture that moment that you can’t ask for. I like to see how people move and I don’t want to direct them. I want them to exist in front the lens. I’ll follow them and grab the moment when I see it. It’s like a dance. That movement and interaction is what inspires me.

From the looks of your portfolio, you mainly focus on fashion and editorial photography. What else have you been pursuing? I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to the technical side of photography. So now that I feel like I know how most of it works, I have turned to directing a bit. I’m learning how to transfer my lighting and mood into motion, as well as how to develop a narrative. Creating a still image or a fashion story seems like second nature now. But turning that into motion, having it make sense, having it cut together and be cohesive, that is something that isn’t as natural to me. So I am focusing a lot on that side of things these days. There are way more moving parts to motion. And it’s way more intriguing to me.

How would you describe your style? Natural maybe? Caught moments? I don’t know. I kind of have to wear a lot of different hats. When I am shooting editorial, I can play around or switch things up. I can play loose and let things happen. On commercial advertising sets with art directors and clients, you have to be precise. But you also have to keep that “play it loose” card in your back pocket because sometimes you are able to switch it up on commercial jobs. I guess whatever my style is will come out in either type of job, even though visually they look completely different. Maybe my style has more to do with the interaction.

You have worked for many major brands and shot a lot of celebrities and musicians. Can you tell us about one of your most memorable times shooting? That’s tough. I think the most memorable times come when traveling with my team. I was doing a large key art project in Durango, Mexico and had a 10-hour layover in Mexico City on the way back. My assistant and I just jumped in a taxi and went into town. We wandered around grabbing drinks at random bars and trying different foods around the city. Those to me are the most memorable times—getting to explore places as I travel. Scouting random locations around L.A. and learning more about my city.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to get the shot? I jumped a guard rail at a national park out in the desert and climbed up on a massive boulder once with my models—don’t tell their agents—to get a shot of them on the edge of a huge drop off. I had a BTS video team following us and one of my cameras was on a tripod filming it. The wind was so strong it blew over the tripod and my camera ate shit. Nobody died, though, so I guess it was worth it. You don’t think about the things you do to get the shot sometimes until after. Hanging off scissor lifts or ladders. An assistant holding your belt so you don’t fall off.

Who would you like to work with most? I like working with musicians a lot. They are performers. Its fun to let them lose themselves and be expressive. Let them dance and move and flow with them. Recently, I was in Atlanta shooting a Lifetime TV ad for ‘The Rap Game.’ My legs were sore for a week after the shoot. Five young rappers all dancing and moving and rapping along to songs while I follow along and grab the moments. It’s a lot of fun. I love energetic shoots like that.

Can you tell us about an average photo shoot for you? I don’t think there is any such thing as an average shoot. They all kind of have a life of their own. It depends on the setting. If I am in the corner of a sound stage waiting on talent, or backstage at a show, [then] it’s all different. Being in a big studio like Milk or Siren has an energy to it. Being in my own studio is low key and chill. You never know how it’s going to be until you’re on set.

Coincidentally Columbus’s Maggie Laine (now a Victoria’s Secret Model) found herself in front of your camera in L.A. How did you make the connection that you were both from Columbus?
That was for one of my former clients, UNIF. They always liked finding new talent and mentioned they were flying this new girl in from Georgia. When we were on set she said where she was from and I was a little dumbfounded. It’s always funny to meet people from your hometown on the other side of the country.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned so far in your career? That nothing is ever for real until the check is signed. I’ve been up for so many jobs that could be career changing, or whatever, and you get your hopes up and [then] it goes to someone else. I’ve learned to not care anymore because its just the nature of the industry.

What is the best advice that you’ve ever received? Whether it be on art, photography or life in general… I always remember my dad telling me as a kid “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise”. I think about that more as my career grows. Making sure I’m good is the most important thing. If I take care of myself then everything else will fall in line. There are a lot of things a person can get into in L.A., and I have been to my share of all night parties and clubs and fashion events and blah blah blah. But it’s always the same people doing the same things. So I’ve learned to take my dad’s advice and stay in most of the time so I am ready to walk on set and be confident in what I have to do.

How hard is it being a working photographer in L.A.? In the beginning it’s tough, especially now that everyone has a camera and thinks they are a photographer. I feel lucky to have made it as far as I have. If you put time into anything, stay diligent and constantly work to be better, eventually you’ll get to where you’re wanting to go.

If you had a chance to live a completely different life, what would you choose to do? I doubt I would change anything. I’m pretty happy with where I’m headed.

What’s on your gear list? (cameras, lenses, editing software etc) That would be a long list. My main camera is a Hasselblad H5X with a Phase One IQ250 digi back. My kit has an 80, 100, 120 and 150mm lens set. I mostly work in Capture One for digital capture and processing and finishing in Photoshop. I keep a pretty complete equipment package in my studio as well. I own a decent amount of grip and lighting modifiers so I can be ready to roll out to any job and I try to keep my equipment rentals to a minimum.

Within your photography do you prefer to work with natural light, artificial light, or both?
I like both. I don’t like to manipulate natural light when I am shooting on location generally. I like to work in the environment and see what the light is doing and use it to my benefit. I also love lighting in studio and trying different things. It’s always fun to experiment with weird sources and see what they do. I’m always trying to rig up some weird lighting source or wire some lights together to see what I get. I feel comfortable in either situation, natural light on location or in studio with different lighting setups. Most of the time I like to keep it simple though. Let the image speak for itself without overthinking the light. I’m always a fan of a basic medium white Profoto umbrella collapsed so it doesn’t spread too much. That or a Westcott para umbrella with diffusion.

How was it working with and photographing the one and only Snoop Dog? All 45 seconds of my time shooting Snoop was interesting. I didn’t really have the time to think about it. In high pressure situations like that you just have to act and get the shot.  He came off exactly as who you would imagine he would be. After the shoot I spoke with him for a minute and he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. It was definitely a good experience.

Any words of wisdom to offer anyone just getting into photography? Work your ass off because nothing will be handed to you. Just like a former photographer I used to assist would say, “You are only as good as your last job.”


Lark Champion

Designer Lark Champion has traveled the world over to find beautifully complex handicrafts to fill her home. Her eye natural eye for beauty and detail makes her one of the best home decorators in the area.

In a world of delicate, Southern-inspired home décor, the work of Lark Champion and Larkin Lane Designs stands out.  Inspired by years of travel, Champion embraces the unique styles of cultures around the world. Her collection at Larkin Lane draws upon the handmade textiles from communities across the globe. From the Otomi of Mexico to the Ikat patterns of the East, Larkin Lane sells a myriad of hand selected textiles gathered from Champion’s journies.
From a young age, Champion was drawn in by dynamic and colorful patterns. She first learned to love and appreciate the handcrafted works of other cultures from her mother—who ran a successful folk art gallery for many years. Today, she has passed that love onto her young children who now accompany her on buying trips. Lark sat down with SVM to discuss her collection, love of travel and design and possible plans on expanding her line.

Travelling has obviously had a large impact in your life. How has it shaped your design aesthetic?

I grew up travelling extensively with my mom on buying trips for her international folk art gallery, Galerie Bonheur. Yearly trips to Haiti, and travel throughout Europe, North Africa and the Americas in search of art had a profound impact on me personally and from a design perspective. While I learned something from each and every country, I think it was the exposure to so many different cultures that most influenced my design aesthetic. I was surrounded by such a broad spectrum of art, from the “fine” art and antiques of Europe, to what some would call “indigenous” forms of art in places like Haiti and Africa. I credit my mom with teaching me that there is value in all art, as long as it authentic; and that the value of a piece doesn’t necessarily come from its provenance, but from the feeling it evokes in you. I have always been amazed by the similarities in motifs, and consistencies in artistic expression in cultures on opposite ends of the globe. I love the way an Otomi textile from Mexico looks on a silk ikat from Uzbekistan in a pillow. Or how chic a Guatemalan blouse can be when worn with a Haitian beaded clutch. It’s the idea of cultures collaborating through textiles that inspires me; and it is that layered and global aesthetic that I think makes Larkin Lane unique.

Where is your favorite place in the world to find unique art?

It’s hard to choose just one. For textiles, I’d have to say Guatemala. They are masters of color and pattern in textile art. And since a majority of people still wear the traditional clothing, you are surrounded by their exquisite work everywhere you go. I just love the history behind their textiles—how each village has a specific style of dress, and that you can tell which region someone is from by the embroidery of a woman’s huipil, blouse, or the faja, belt, for men. The country itself is beautiful too, and I adore the people!

Navigating foreign markets is a part of your day to day job. Do you have any tips on getting the best deals while negotiating?

Never underestimate the connection that a genuine smile can make, so start with a smile.  Speak their language to the extent that you can, or, at least, make an effort. And most of all, be respectful. These are business women and men just like us, regardless of where or how they live. By selling their art, they are sharing a piece of their culture, a tradition handed down from generation to generation. I see it as such a privilege to do business with these people and to help preserve their heritage.

Your collection can be divided up into stylistic patterns: Otomi, Ikat, Suzani, and Guatemalan textiles. Do you have any plans to expand your collection and include a wider array of handcrafted textiles from other regions of the world?

Absolutely. At the moment, I am expanding my selection of Haitian beaded clutches. My friend, and one of my favorite Haitian artisans, Mireille, survived Hurricane Matthew and is back to hand-sewing the exquisite textile that has been a part of Haitian religious tradition for centuries. She is so grateful to have more work. I have a small selection of textiles from Bhutan that are incredible, and would love to add more. My mom is heading there next year, so hopefully I will be able to join her. Then, I also adore Molas from the San Blas Islands of Panama. I traveled there with my family years ago and can’t wait to return. I am dying to go to India of course. The list could go on and on.

Why is buying textiles, specifically the Otomi fabrics, directly from vendors in their native countries important to you?

It goes back to growing up surrounded by artists from around the world. The folk artists that my mom promoted became like family members. Their art is an expression of something from within. It is authentic. That is why the authenticity of textiles is so important to me. I have so much respect for textile artisans. I want to help preserve their traditions, and honor them in the way that my mom has forever been honoring folk artists.

What item from your collection is your favorite and why?

My newest favorite item is our silk ikat bow tie. I’m especially proud of our bow ties because they are so unique. We source the gorgeous silk ikat from artisans in Uzbekistan, and then have the bow ties hand-crafted here in America. The idea for the bow tie came while I was at the Steeplechase in Nashville. So many of the men there were wearing traditional bow ties. When I took the ikat clutch that I was carrying and held it up to my husband’s neck, I loved the pop of color and pattern next to his traditional attire. We have had such a wonderful response to the bow ties that we are expanding to include cummerbunds. What a perfect gift for groomsmen. You could also pair them with matching scarves or clutches for the bridesmaids!

 In bringing these traditional designs back to America, you are giving them a new life. Do you see your business as a way to educate people about other cultures through design?

I think more than educating people, it’s about sharing stories of different cultures and artisans, and keeping textile traditions alive. When artisans share with me the history behind a textile, or how a tradition started, that just feels like a gift to me. I love sharing those stories with my clients, and hope that they share them too.

What’s the best part of your job?

Collaborating with talented artisans who take pride in their work has to be my favorite part. I love the exchange of ideas between cultures and that I get to be a part of that. One of my favorite stories is when I wore an infinity scarf that I had designed from Uzbeki silk ikat to a women’s co-op in Guatemala. The weavers there are incredible business women. They hand-dye and hand-weave fabric that they use to create beautiful accessories. The women weavers loved my scarf.  They even asked me to take it off so that they could measure it to make infinity scarves with their own fabric. It just made me happy to think of artisans in Uzbekistan creating one of my designs, and then that being passed on to women in the tiniest village of Guatemala on the other side of the world! And for both cultures to be able to interpret that design within their own traditions, and generate an income from it, that was inspiring to me.

Like most women, I am always multi-tasking. Between stops at my local workrooms, I am on the phone or emailing with my international sources– sending photographs, sketches and specifications. One of the things I love about my job is the fact that there is a great level of communication between myself and my artisans.  I also try to update the website as often as possible, keep up with social media, and write a blog post or two and then schedule them to be “published”.


Gabe Pippas

As the Georgia film industry continues to grow, Columbus native and Brookstone alumnus Gabe Pippas is grabbing his seat at the table. Gabe sat down with SVM to discuss his foray into the film industry and his burgeoning film equipment rental business out of Atlanta, Cinder Lighting & Grip.

In high school, Gabe Pippas and his buddies always carried a camera with them. They were ready to catch their antics on film at a moments notice. When it came time to choose a college and eventual career path, Pippas decided to go the more traditional route. He got into Georgia Tech and planned on majoring in applied physics and eventually become an engineer. He thought he left his film days behind him, until he ran into a film crew on Tech’s campus. He was immediately drawn back into the film world. Fast forward almost five years later, and Pippas is running a successful film equipment rental company and working on multiple film, television, music and commercial projects. He sat down with SVM to chat about the growing film industry in Georgia and what he hopes his role will be in its future.

 Growing up, you and your friends were notorious for making hilarious videos about your antics. At what point did you decide to turn that passion into a career?

Growing up, you and your friends were notorious for making hilarious videos about your antics. At what point did you decide to turn that passion into a career?

Growing up, you and your friends were notorious for making hilarious videos about your antics. At what point did you decide to turn that passion into a career?

When I lived in Columbus the idea of working in film seemed like a total stretch. There’s a big difference between Netflix’s Stranger Things and whatever you want to call the videos my buddy, Will Kamensky, and I made. When I got to Tech, I was fully prepared to go through 4, probably 5, maybe 6 years of school to become an engineer, but during my first week on campus an Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn movie, The Internship, was being filmed in Klaus [a building on Georgia Tech’s campus]. I was lingering around the set for a few hours trying to see what was going on, while also trying not to be seen; a production assistant finally spotted me and told me I needed to leave. Just as he showed me out I asked how I could become an extra, coffee slave, or anything that would get me on set. He showed me few Facebook pages where casting agents posted for extras. After only two weeks of sending in photos that my laughing roommate, Yemi Olubowale, took for me on his phone, I was on a set in Macon, GA.

I spent 3 days on Witches of East End, a Jenna Tatum show that got canceled. Each day was no less than 15 hours and everyone was complaining, but I think that’s just because most extras just want to be movie stars and there is nothing glamorous about being an extra, absolutely nothing. I loved every minute of that job. There were more and more projects coming to Atlanta, and I wanted to be on them. My whole freshman year I did these extra gigs on the side. Watching the professionals turn ordinary spaces into distant worlds and past decades where stories could be told was awesome, still is! The long hours and bad pay didn’t bother me at all. I was getting paid 64 bucks for 8 hours. Now back at Tech, you couldn’t pay me enough money to study for 15 hours straight, but on set, no problem.  Being around real people making real films made me realize that working in the film industry was an actual possibility. Once I had that thought I couldn’t shake it. I just had to give it a try.

Georgia Tech doesn’t seem like the obvious choice for a film student. How did it help you get your foot into industry?

Tech, along with my mother, gave me my work ethic. Getting into film is definitely hard work, and you do a lot of that at Georgia Tech. I did pretty well academically in high school, but at Tech I was failing tests and struggling with homework assignments that took days to finish. The work I did early on at Tech was mentally harder than anything else I had ever done. Now I am a business major, and I’m not going to pretend like that is anywhere near as difficult as applied physics, which is what I started as. I made the switch because film is a business. Many successful artists made it because they were able to couple their artistic ability with practical business, something that a lot of artist’s are not able to do. Vincent Van Gogh, though famous now, died broke. Whereas, Thomas Kinkade, became one of the wealthiest artist of all time. Why is this? Well it’s because a lot of things, but the big one being you have to know your market. Knowing a little business gave me a lot of confidence. The confidence I need to start my own business. Now, if I can just finish business school that would be great.

Even though Georgia has experienced a major boost in filming, major cities like New York and Los Angeles are still considered a hub for videographers. Why did you decide to stay in Georgia?

New York and LA are already too established for me to find work quickly and at a young age. The requirements to get into LA’s film unions are quite extensive, and every artistic person in the world wants to move to New York. So, to avoid the cut throat race for positions, I just looked in my backyard and got them. As a videographer, I need to see how the big dogs used their movie magic because you really can’t teach yourself this stuff. As it turned out, the best from New York and LA all traveled to Atlanta to make their movies! Working underneath them as a grip, electrician, or office PA is like watching a magician do a trick from behind the curtain. Not to mention Georgia is my home, I love the south, and I love my family. Nowadays, I’ll travel to New York or Los Angeles because of work I did in Atlanta. The world sees what is made in this city and it’s awesome. There were so many new projects coming into the city that they need crew for, and, as it turns out, working on a cattle farm for 4 years was great work experience for becoming a grip. Grip work is very labor intensive. Big rigging builds and longs hours in rain, ice, or 90 degree weather take a certain type of person, and the south is a great place to find those kind of people. Lots of farm hands turned to film work.

As a small business owner, have you seen a large impact on your business from the film and television boom Georgia is experiencing?

Absolutely! With the rise of major motion pictures arriving to Atlanta, so did the number of people like myself. I found it hard to replicate the setups that I saw on set. Renting equipment was just too expensive and it really didn’t need to be. That was when my business partner, Ben Lambeth, and I decided to start a small rental business to support the smaller community of younger filmmakers as they grew—and as they grew we grew.

Tell us about your most interesting video shoot.

Interesting in terms of dysfunction would be the time we had 8 people standing on ladders, waving branches outside of a window to make a scene for Meg Myer’s Sorry music video. The projects are always changing; one day it’s a bank commercial and the next it’s a rap music video. When you’re starting out you find your self doing things like chasing stray cows that wandered onto set, swimming in lakes because someone forgot to buy a paddle for the john boat and sometimes climbing on roofs because a light always needs to go in the most inconvenient place. One time I was working on an Adult Swim show and on one of the last days we shut down a highway and pummeled a Miata with a deuce and a half military truck. That was a fun day at work.

How has being involved on the business side of videography affected the way you approach the creative side?

There is no doubt that running Cinder made me practical. Knowing what looks good is important, but coupling that with knowledge of hidden costs will make your producers love you. I’ve also found new clients are always nervous about the end product on the first shoot, but having a business background clearly buys us a bit more trust.

What upcoming projects are you most excited about?

I’m involved in my first movie right now! The movie is called Mine 9. It’s a story about 8 miners and one rookie, and their fight to survive after a methane explosion in a West Virginia coal mine. I’m an associate producer on the project, and Cinder is separately providing the equipment for the film. With this movie I’ve been working towards connecting private equity with Georgia based filmmakers and movies. I believe that Georgia is ready to produce content independently, but we are definitely in our proving period right now.  There are so many amazing filmmakers with ties to Georgia that are moving here from LA and New York, and a lot of them with some serious experience from places like Disney, Universal, And Sony. We are all very excited about to showing off Mine 9 on the festival circuit!