Laurel Mercantile Co. works hard to design and manufacture as many of our products in the USA as possible because if we're going to be serious about revitalizing small town America, then we have to be serious about American manufacturing.
We hope to inspire small towns across America by highlighting the dreamers who take the leap into entrepreneurship. Our friend, Mary Clayton Carl Jones shows us the importance of authentic connection and support for creators and makers in her hometown of Birmingham and all across the state of Alabama.
A few years ago, my husband, Paul and I lost our minds and opened a store. We had no business doing such, as neither of us knew what we were doing. But that’s the story of our lives. We also decided to get married after dating for two weeks! It was really just a pop-up shop that had an extended stay. The store featured makers and designers based in the South. While we learned we do not love retail, we did love meeting the people who came into the store and telling the story of each maker. We made so many good friends from that experience. We had a blast throwing parties and shows that celebrate the individual designers.
In the midst of all our fun, a group asked to use our store as a meeting space. This organization was called Southern Makers which was pretty ironic considering our inventory and our vision. In the simplest of terms, Southern Makers is a two day event that showcases unique Southern artisans from all different genres and gives them a platform and opportunity to exhibit their work. However, it is much more than that. This event has created a community for these artists not only as a way get in front of press and buyers, but as a network for each other. It is truly all about the makers and honoring their talents.
However, unbeknownst to us, this meeting was a pivotal moment. We became fast friends with this crew meeting in our store specifically, the now owner, Garlan Gudger, Jr. and his wife, Heather. In addition to the Southern Makers event, they own a salvage company that resurrects the old to be used again from all over the country and a store called Southern Accents Architectural Antiques based in Cullman, AL. More importantly, this couple would become two of our closest friends. They also kindly invited us into the fold to help discover and celebrate makers around the South.
In my following posts I am going to introduce you to some of my favorite makers and designers not only from the South but from all over the United States. I think my inner market editor fuels my passion to discover these artisans and present them to the world. You never what an introduction may make! I hope you will enjoy learning about each one’s craft.
Mary Clayton Carl Jones has wanderlust and a big appetite for life. After graduating from the New College at the University of Alabama, she interned at Harper’s Bazaar in Paris where she developed a passion for eating well, a knack for pristine entertaining and a keen eye for the premiere fashion world.
Her inner hostess continued to thrive back in the United States, where her work with a commercial photographer and career as a stylist brought her a vast portfolio of experiences – from castings to prop procurement, and dressing the set.
The publishing industry drew her back south, where she had the opportunity to work with a start up magazine in New Orleans. She went on to work for Food Network’s star Sandra Lee, as full time photo stylist for her magazine, Sandra Lee.
She has since collaborated on productions, music festivals, videos, and photo shoots for Garden & Gun, Southern Living, Blackberry Farm, Billy Reid, Cooking Light, Coastal Living, DELTA, Biltmore Wine Company, AARP, Real Simple, Country Living, LODGE, MilkLife, Publix, Oxmoor House publishing, Hoffman Media, Kimberly Schlapman’s Oh Gussie! Cookbook and more. Mary Clayton has produced pop-up shops, and styled everything from large scale events and restaurants to artist's green rooms and tents.
Additionally, this Southern-born stylist is owns a creative agency with her husband, Paul Jones called Mason + Dixon .