From Scratch Design

Kelly Housholder's from scratch design for the 2010 Moss Rock Festival.

Kelly Housholder's from scratch design for the 2010 Moss Rock Festival.

Kelly Housholder, Birmingham-native and graphic design extraordinaire, never imagined she would turn her passion and skill for creativity into her dream job, but that’s exactly what she did.

Originally setting out into the world of pre-med, Kelly quickly realized her aspirations were elsewhere while interning at an obstetrics and gynecology clinic.

During her time there, Kelly worked with and drew inspiration from women of all ages, races, and walks of life.  Little did she know, Kelly’s patients were influencing her future in a major way.

“At the end of the internship, I was inspired to make a painting,” Kelly said.“Instead of being inspired to cure ovarian cancer or learn how to deliver a baby, I was inspired to create a painting of a ‘universal woman.’ She was flowing with colors of all races, shapes, and sizes and embodied the heart and soul of each woman I saw during that 3-month internship.”

In the end, Kelly quickly recognized that she was made for the creative world, not the scientific.

After crying the whole way through Chemistry I, she switched majors and devoted herself to something new.

She chose to major in fine art and mixed media at Birmingham-Southern College, while also taking graphic design classes at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Kelly was able to experience a number of internships during college.  One in particular, Scout Branding Company, gave her a job straight out of college.

Kelly and her husband Andrew share a laugh.

Kelly and her husband Andrew share a laugh.

A year later, Kelly moved away and married her husband.

Despite her apprehension, she decided to go forth as a freelance graphic artist.

With her newlywed husband in medical school, she was their sole means of income.

“Looking back, I’m like, ‘I’m crazy!’ ” Kelly said. “I don’t know if I would have done that again, but it worked out.”

After being given a start as a freelancer with various projects from her past job at Scout Branding Company and other contacts, Kelly said every client got her another client, “instead of advertising, it was really customer service and just doing good work.”

By taking on small, minor projects, she was able to build a client-base that later allowed her to tackle substantially bigger ventures.

“What I like to tell a lot of people that are starting out is that ‘you never know,’ don’t not take something, because it seems like a dead end,” Kelly said. “The smallest thing can turn out to be huge.”

As word spread about Kelly’s devotion to her work, her clientele expanded across the United States.

“I did work on a center for eating disorders here in Birmingham, and they had a freelance writer who they knew that lived in Houston,” Kelly said, “So I worked with her and about a year later she sent me this email about the magazine she worked for needing a web site.”

Kelly bid on the project, won it and has been working with the magazine ever since.

Kelly Housholder's from scratch design for the Red Mountain Community School brochure.

Kelly Housholder's from scratch design for the Red Mountain Community School brochure.

She also worked on a project with an account manager here in Birmingham, who later moved to New York.

“All of a sudden, I started doing work for Columbia University, so then I was working there!”

Kelly said about her nationally growing business.  Kelly credits her relationships and connections with clients for her growth.

“There’s just so many things my internships and first job shaped for me,” Kelly said. “When you’re in school you don’t learn how to manage clients, you don’t even learn how to send anything to print, so if I had just tried to do freelance out of college I would have crashed.”

Despite her love for her clients, Kelly said her least favorite part of the graphic design industry is being hired as an expert in visual design and not being trusted.

“It’s hard sometimes,” Kelly said. “It’s kind of like going to the doctor and them saying, ‘you have strep,’ and you’re like ‘actually I think I have the flu.’”

In those kinds of situations, Kelly said that it is ultimately the client’s decision, but she goes down with a fight.  By providing her clients with education on why she does something a certain way and why it works best, clients are usually more willing to relinquish control.

“People really respect that you’re invested and you want the best for them,” Kelly said.  “I think if they know that, believe that, and trust that, then they trust you too.”

Presently, Kelly is the founder of design company, From Scratch Design.

Her portfolio displays a diverse array of clients and businesses, ranging from Columbia University to Birmingham’s own Abbeyluxe Shoe Boutique.

Kelly's Gold Addy Award for her contributions to the Moss Rock Festival campaign and Oikon.

Kelly's Gold Addy Award for her contributions to the Moss Rock Festival campaign and Oikon.

To add to her success, Kelly was honored with two Gold Addy awards at this year’s annual Birmingham Addys, a gala organized by the Birmingham Advertising Federation.

She earned this prestigious honor for her contribution to the Moss Rock Festival campaign, along with her stationary design for Oikon, a company that manages commercial real estate assets and enhances value for small businesses.

Aside from all her achievements, Kelly says the best part about her job is the flexibility, “I love being in control of my schedule.”

With her husband navigating the medical field and her mom fighting an unfortunate encounter with breast cancer last year, she is thankful for a career that allows her to take time off when she needs it.

“It’s not like it’s easier,” Kelly says.  “I might have a day where I’m working 10 hours, but if I feel like going to the grocery store at 3:00 in the afternoon, I can.”

Kelly’s life as a freelance graphic artist has allowed her to not only be fulfilled with an inspiring career, but to also have time for her friends, herself, and her family.

Lulie’s on Cahaba

Story and photos by Jennifer Taylor

If you asked most high school seniors where they would be 10 years after graduation, chances are their answer would not actually be where they end up 10 years down the road.

Lauren Stewart, however, ended up exactly where she said she would be when she was a high school senior.

“I never really had any intentions of working in fashion, but in that video,  I said ‘I’ll probably own a women’s boutique,’” Stewart said. “My senior video was definitely the instigator in my decision to open a boutique.”

Stewart is now the owner of Lulie’s on Cahaba, an upscale women’s boutique located on Cahaba Road in Mountain Brook Village.

Stewart grew up in Baton Rouge, La., and found her way to Alabama when she decided to attend college at Auburn University.

While at Auburn, Stewart studied marketing and Spanish, still with no intention of working in the fashion industry.

“My mom is originally from Mountain Brook and my parents decided to move there while I was at Auburn,” Stewart said. “That’s how I got to know the area.”

When it came time for Stewart to graduate, her love of fashion and her statement from her senior video came to mind and two months later, Lulie’s on Cahaba opened in July 2009.

“My parents heard that a building in Mountain Brook Village was for sale. It honestly was a right-place, right-time kind of situation when I decided to open Lulie’s,” Stewart said.

One of the first things Stewart had to do upon deciding to open a boutique and acquiring a space was choose a name for her business.

“I chose the name Lulie’s because my sister called me ‘Lulieboo’ when we were toddlers and later my nickname just became Lulie,” Stewart said.

A self-described people person, Stewart enjoys helping women who usually have trouble putting things together to flatter their body type.

Lauren Stewart, owner of Lulie's on Cahaba

“I love using fashion to lift spirits. When you help someone put together an outfit or pick out a simple piece such as a scarf or jewelry, it can really boost their self-esteem,” Stewart said.

Although opening a new business has proved challenging at times, Stewart’s love for fashion and the opportunity to help women feel confident make her job worthwhile.

Stewart hopes that Lulie’s on Cahaba will stand out as a store where mothers and daughters can shop together and know that they will be helped in selecting clothing that makes them look and feel their best.

“Working in fashion, no day is the same. I can’t imagine working in an office and sitting at a desk all day. I’m too much of a people person,” Stewart said. “I want women of all ages to come in and feel accommodated and know that someone will help them find that perfect, flattering outfit for any occasion,”

For help selecting that perfect outfit no matter your age, visit Lauren Stewart and the girls at Lulie’s on Cahaba.

Lulie’s on Cahaba
2724 Cahaba Road
Mountain Brook, Alabama

Mulberry Heights

Caroline Bradford began her love affair with antiques sometime during a childhood spent looking through her grandmother’s attic. “I’ve always loved old things,” the Birmingham native and mother of three said.

It was that pleasure for the old-fashion that lead her to start Mulberry Heights Antiques. The small business sits along Canterbury Road in Mountain Brook Village. Cars and foot traffic are frequent as they pass by. The elegant store is one of many in the area and attracts visitors from all over the region.

Nearly eleven years has passed since Bradford first started her antiques store. What began as a childhood fascination with decorating lead her 18 years ago to start an interior design business with a friend. From there eventually became what is now Mulberry Heights. Bradford found having her own business outside of her home much easier and enjoyable.

“The fact that when you’re helping personal clients it’s so time consuming and you can’t leave it it’s always something you’re thinking about I just know that I’d rather have a retail shop and still sell and work with beautiful things.” The store first opened in a small house in Cahaba Heights, not originally in Mountain Brook. Bradford says that after a while they discovered that Cahaba was at the time, “Off the beaten path.” Only then when the store was moved to Mountain Brook did her business begin to pick up and sell more.

And its that same environment that she sees as so important to the benefit of Mulberry Heights.  “Mountain Brook is just a true destination place,” she says. Her business holds many of the things one would always find in an elegant antique shop but is known famously for its hand-painted Mulberry China found all throughout the store.

While having the store in Mountain Brook has been wonderful for business there was in Mulberry Heights a concern that being in an area such as Mountain Brook might be as Bradford puts it “intimidating.” “It’s getting better. Definitely several years ago that was a real thing we had to try to get over.” The concern of a fancy antiques store intimidating potential customers has not been a problem for Bradford’s business.

She believes very strongly that Mountain Brook has worked hard to be more inviting and overcome an old money stigma. “When you get personal with the businesses I think that really helps and makes other people see that this is just like anywhere else.”

And that personal touch has translated into a successful operation that appeals to all kinds of customers, especially through advertising. Bradford credits the company’s website along with their Facebook page as helping to branch out and reach more people.

Walking through the store one can find a rich variety of items all shipped from overseas. Many come from France where Bradford and her husband have visited often.

Customers who visit the store find it to be quiet and inviting. And while most are normally from the Mountain Brook area, some occasionally defy such a mold. One recent buyer included a former producer for the program “7th Heaven.” A sign that Mulberry Heights, like its antiques, can stay a part of Mountain Brook, while reaching beyond it.

Some Baskits Tenders

The Baskits

Story and photos by Dan Bagwell

The Baskits Exterior

When The Baskits opened in 1999, it was hardly expected to leave a dent in the Birmingham restaurant scene.  Soon after father-son duo Fred and Paul Shunnarah opened the restaurant, however, they began to do just that.

Since its humble beginnings as part of a strip center on Greensprings Highway in Homewood, The Baskits has been a family-owned and operated restaurant aimed at setting the standard for quality food in Birmingham.

Paul’s history with family-oriented restaurants is a long one.  After Fred immigrated to the United States in the 1960’s, he became a successful business owner in the grocery industry.  As a young man, Paul worked in his family’s grocery store alongside his father, learning the tricks of the trade that he would eventually put to use as President of The Baskits.

The restaurant was conceived after Paul graduated college and noted a lack of quality chicken tenders in Birmingham.  Working with his father (now semi-retired), and using knowledge gained from family experience in the meat market and grocery business, Paul proposed creating his own restaurant to rise to the occasion.

Eager to start the new business, father and son spent months experimenting with marinades and dipping sauce for the chicken.  Confident with their final products, Paul and Fred decided to open shop.

For the Shunnarahs, hard work and dedication has paid off.  A decade after opening, The Baskits moved from the strip center to a stand-alone building nearby, which increased the profile of the restaurant substantially.

Some Baskits TendersIn 2009, the restaurant was awarded “Favorite Chicken Tenders” in a contest sponsored by The Birmingham News.  A panel of nine local judges voted The Baskits’ chicken tenders the best of approximately 40 restaurants in the Birmingham area.

The thing that sets The Baskits apart from other local restaurants, Shunnarah said, is extra attention to food quality.  “Everything we do here, we marinate,” Shunnarah said. “Quality control is very important to me, I’m very passionate about it.”

The fact that The Baskits is family-owned gives it a leg up on many mainstream chain establishments through more personal and direct service, Paul said.

As owner, manager and even a cook, Paul is no stranger to hard work.  He finds time to manage the establishment, help out in the kitchen, and mingle with the customers.  “Hands-on service is priority one, whether it’s cooking in the kitchen, overseeing food quality or general customer service.” Paul said.

The Baskits is no ordinary fast-food restaurant, Shunnarah said. “We’re considered fast-casual, which is counter-service,” said Paul.  “You come and order, we make the food right there and bring it to you.”

Although The Baskits has always offered a diverse menu, the chicken tenders have been the most popular item from the beginning.  A slogan on the new building reads “Best Chicken Tenders in Town,” daring customers to put the restaurant’s specialty to the test.

The restaurant also shows off its school spirit by offering free drinks to local college students, another distinguishing feature not shared by many other restaurants in the area.

Despite such a large field of competitors, Shunnarah says that Birmingham is a great location for a place like The Baskits.  “It’s not too big or small of a city,” said Paul.  “It’s got a good, diverse group of people.”

With a new building and a more solid reputation than ever, The Baskits has become a force to be reckoned with among Birmingham restaurants.  If the restaurant’s current track record is any indication, Shunnarah and future customers have much to look forward to.

The Baskits
813 Green Springs Highway
Birmingham, AL 35209
(205) 916-0401

Homewood Toy and Hobby store front

Homewood Toy & Hobby

Tricia McCain remembers working in her family’s toy store since she was 14 years old.

Homewood Toy and Hobby store front

After graduating from high school, McCain left Birmingham to attend Auburn University.

She later transferred to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, where she majored in marketing.

At 22, she returned to her family’s store and began managing the shop. Today she is the third generation manager and a part owner of Homewood Toy and Hobby.

Though she admits working in a toy store can be challenging sometimes, McCain says that she was always interested in taking over the shop and that she enjoys her work.

“I wanted to do it,” McCain says. One of the reasons she likes her job is because of the flexibility it offers. It makes working more convenient because as a part owner, she can set her own schedule and work when she wants to.

She says that patience is another important factor and that liking children makes working easier. “You have to have a good attitude,” McCain says. “You need to be able to deal with children ­– and parents too.” She also says that having a child of her own has made work more enjoyable for her.

Her son’s birth has also influenced her favorite toys. Since Homewood Toy and Hobby carries many brands for children of all ages, from Legos to collectable Lionel Trains, there are thousands of options. McCain’s favorite brand right now is Playmobile. “The toys give the kids so much creativity,” she says. Every year McCain gets to pick and choose which Playmobile toys and others will fill the shelves of her family’s store when she visits the American International Toy Fair.

Held in New York City, the American International Toy Fair is the largest toy trade show in the western hemisphere, with more than 100,000 products available.

McCain says attending the show is her favorite part of working in a toy store because she does all the buying for Homewood Toy and Hobby there. McCain says that this is exciting because as a buyer, she gets to play with all the toys firsthand. She also sees new toys before they even come out on the market.

In the future, McCain sees her family’s store staying right where it is. “I don’t really want to change,” she says. “I like it the way it is.” She says that she hopes her son will want to take over just as she did. If not she would like another relative to run the store. Homewood Toy and Hobby has been in her family since her grandparents opened it over forty years ago, and McCain does not want that to change anytime soon.

Homewood Toy & Hobby
2830 18th Street South
Homewood, AL 35209
Open Monday through Saturday, 9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Closed Sunday