Kristen Baird may not have always known she wanted to do jewelry design for a living, but one thing she did know is that the South is embedded in her soul, and to this day, her Southern upbringing is the basis for her inspiration.
After graduating from the Savannah College of Art and Design in 2012 with a bachelor of fine arts in Jewelry Design, Baird trained under Blaine Lewis, master jeweler and former lead stone setting trainer at Tiffany & Co. Here, she honed her craft and in 2015 she returned to Savannah with her unique skill set to open her own fine jewelry business, Kristen Baird Jewelry.
It’s no surprise that Baird and her company have since become award-winning, gaining praise from National Jeweler and the American Craft Council, and even having celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey seen wearing her jewelry; her unique, high-end aesthetic derives directly from the environment in which she was raised and she strives to reflect the energy and beauty her community sends her back to them.
“It’s an interesting combination of organic and architectural,” Baird explains. “It’s very reminiscent of the outdoor area in Savannah. My goal is to distill the essence of Savannah into my work.”
The architecture in Savannah has high significance to the community, and from which Baird’s inspiration runs wild. Romanesque Revival and Gothic Revival styles—both prominent in the historic district—can be recognized in many of Baird’s rings and bracelets.
Just returning from an artist residency in Lacoste, France, in collaboration with SCAD, Kristen’s work now contains a touch of Provence-style as seen in her Bonjour Belle collection available at kristenbaird.com. Turns out the Kristen thrives in southern areas whether it be Southern France or the South that she was raised in and loves so much.”
Baird has even been able to keep her Southern morals intact as a businesswoman, putting an emphasis on sourcing materials that are only ethically accrued.
“No blood diamonds, no shady practices,” she emphasizes. “The materials I use follow strict international certification processes.”
A majority of materials she uses are sourced from the South, however she does work with vendors and suppliers from all over the world. But with those international materials, she is still able to use her skillset to form those materials into the spirit of the South.
Hold one of Baird’s amethyst duo ripple rings under the Savannah summer sun and you might just see a memory of loved ones sitting on the back porch, fireflies surrounding you, and sweet tea being sipped reflecting back at you.
TeamSouth has put a lot of sweat and late nights in these last two months in order to distill the essence of Lowcountry style into 180 pages for our upcoming August/September issue. From TV celebrities to high-end fashion designers, and even a fan favorite pup who is no stranger to the luxurious lifestyle (you won’t get any spoilers in this blog—find out who these folks are and their incredible stories when the magazine is released on August 1), we searched the Creative Coast far and wide to figure out what exactly is Southern style and what can make it luxurious.
Southern style can be hard to define, as it can come in many different forms. But in the vein of Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, we know it when we see it. That’s why we decided to spend our celebration night at one of our favorite pop-up restaurants: Cow by Bear.
As we wrote about in our last issue, Cow by Bear takes pop-up restaurants to the extreme. The dinner, which is held at an undisclosed location (patrons are emailed the address 24 hours before the event), is prepared by—you guessed it—a bear.
The night was made infinitely more luxurious with transportation provided by our friends at Above and Beyond Limousine Services. We arrived at the location by Cadillac Escalade (special thanks to our driver, Robert, for putting up with our celebrations).
Each city that Cow by Bear is in features a different chef. Here in Savannah, dinner guests are served by Chef ‘Po Bear–an 875-pound bear–and the attentive host Michael.
What makes Cow by Bear so special isn’t the luxurious food (although that sure does take the cake), but it’s the warm atmosphere that is so carefully curated. With an eclectic music selection (mostly 80s music—we’re guessing that’s Chef ‘Po Bear’s go-to playlist on Spotify) a delectable menu of perfectly prepared delicacies, and a bear chef to tie it all together, it’s nearly impossible to resist forming a special bond with the strangers you dine with.
Food is the way to the heart, but when prepared by a bear, it’s the way to the soul and undying bonds with strangers.
Special thanks to Hollis Johnson and our driver Robert from Above and Beyond, and to Chef ‘Po Bear and our host Michael for one of the best end-of-issue celebrations.
The Congress for New Urbanism, a nonprofit based out of Washington, D.C. that advocates for new urban design, held its 26th conference right here in the Hostess City last week to explore some of the urban design challenges Savannah currently faces. South magazine sat down with award-winning designer Matthew S. Hallett—founder of HALLETT & Co.—to discuss what went down at the event.
SOUTH MAGAZINE: So, tell us why the Congress for New Urbanism conference is so important.
MATTHEW: The Congress for New Urbanism conference brings together 1,500 people each year to discuss new urban design and advocate for things like sidewalks, traffic calming, what makes a good building that contributes to the city. They bring speakers and workshops to the host city so we can learn new strategies to improve our cities.
SM: Can’t bringing 1,500 people to one city be a bit detrimental?
MH: Of course, and the organization understands their presence can be a burden, so they want to give something back; they come into the host city about five months before the conference, bringing their best and brightest, to leave a “legacy project.” Because these folks are coming from out of town, they are bringing their incredible level of talent and incredibly fresh eyes to see what locals don’t see to examine some of the problems in the host city and develop a game plan to fix them.
SM: What sort of problems did they find in Savannah?
MH: So, in the 1960s, we stopped building cities that work for people, but instead work for cars. If you build a city for cars, you get a city full of cars. But if you build a city for people, you’ll get people. Take a look at cities like Vienna. They have gorgeous town squares with tall buildings and people walking everywhere. We can’t have that in a majority of America, but we can have it in Savannah. Thankfully we have new urbanism in Savannah thanks to Oglethorpe and we luckily stuck to it in most places. But as the city grew, we started building for cars, as most of America did. Take a look at the Savannah Mall. Did you know the mall’s property is about the size of the landmark historic district downtown?
MH: Yeah, it’s nearly the same size yet doesn’t have anywhere near the same amount of economic activity as downtown does.
SM: What other problems did the project find?
MH: Well they also took a look at Waters Avenue. A lot has been proposed about fixing and restoring Waters, yet very little has been done.
SM: Why so?
MH: The city codes discourage the building of classic, four-story brick houses and carriage houses downtown. Instead, they encourage the building of malls, like Savannah Mall. So the project took a look at Waters Avenue, from Victory to Wheaton.. and Waters to East Broad. Essentially there’s a lack of greenery, the lack of parking spaces. It’s historically a legacy of racism. The people that lived there were mushed together and given very little amenities. So [the planners] said, “What if we did some landscaping? What if we continued the palm trees from Victory all the way down Waters? Perhaps we could raise the medians and extend the greenery.” If we tied these areas with two different income scales together—including Savannah Arts Academy, the East Broad Street School, and Spencer Elementary—with new urban design, it would right some of the wrongs we have done to racism. There were ten different action plans for the Waters Avenue corridor that you can see if you go to the CNU website.
SM: Is it actually possible to accomplish these projects?
MH: Absolutely! If we want Waters Avenue to come back, we have to change the codes, which will allow commercial businesses to come back.
SM: Will that be difficult?
MH: Not really. If you can get a city government official on board, it can get changed. A couple aldermen just need to decide this project is important and we can make it happen. Thankfully, Alderman Tony Thomas is totally enthused about the Southside project. Bill Durance, Alderman for the second district, has been to two different CNUs and he is all over it, too. It doesn’t cost anything to change things like parking codes, either. Building a horseshoe-shaped park, now that will cost, obviously, but we can decide next year and start acquiring the property and the project can start five years from now.
SM: Your focus is on historic preservation and home design, but you are obviously very passionate about this. Why?
MH: I love Savannah. I want to see the best for it. We are still at half of the historic density of residents. Downtown emptied out after World War II and we are slowly gaining those people back, but it’s predominantly vacation rentals. I love tourists, but I want to see more residents and homeowners downtown. As part of the Board of Downtown Neighbors Association, it’s disparaging to see where there once were homeowners who would water your plants or feed your cat while you were out of town, are now vacation rentals. I want to have those neighbors back who used to be bartenders and lawyers. I want to see all income levels being represented in the downtown district.
To learn more about the Congress for New Urbanism, visit their website at cnu.org.
To learn more about Matthew Hallett and HALLETT & Co., visit his website at hallettco.com.
If there’s one thing the city of Savannah does best, it’s retaining and refurbishing its extensive history. From the well-maintained Victorian homes and refurbished churches to the cobblestone streets and historic squares, Savannah is the true definition of both antique and vintage. Where better to go antique shopping than right here in the Hostess City? Here are 10 of the most eclectic antique and vintage shops you must visit.
Victory Antiques and Collectibles
Housed in one of the oldest buildings on Victory Drive, Victory Antiques and Collectibles is more than an antique store. Here you will find anything from contemporary artwork to rare Art Nouveau paintings. Fine furniture, furs, vintage bric-a-brac and antique collectibles line the various halls and rooms. Unlike most other antique and vintage stores, many pieces here have a handwritten story attached explaining the objects’ origins. Hanging from the ceilings you will find a variety of chandeliers sourced from all over the country. They also offer a variety of classes for restoration newbies and experts alike.
Victory Antiques and Collectibles is located at 1650 E. Victory Drive.
Wright Square Vintage & Retro Mall
With more than 30 dealers, Wright Square Vintage & Retro Mall has a little something for everyone. Specializing in vintage and retro rather than plain old antiques, you can find everything from cameras to records, clothing to furniture, books and a variety of signage. They are extremely price-conscious and always have competitive prices. Here, you won’t have to worry about finding meaningless junk. Owner Andy Sher’s rule of thumb for his vendors: “If you have to dust it, it isn’t for us.”
Wright Square Vintage & Retro Mall is located at 14 W. State Street.
Books on Bay
Remember the days of curling up under the covers with a good book? Books on Bay does, and they want you to, too. Their collection of vintage books spans more than three centuries, with their oldest book from the 1500s. From adventure to children’s books, poetry to religion, Nancy Grace to the Hardy Boys and even Civil War and the South, you can find a book for just about any interest. They’ll even deliver a book to your hotel! Books on Bay is the perfect place to celebrate reading while stepping into the past.
Books on Bay is located at 224 W. Bay Street.
Universe Trading Co.
This eclectic shop is the perfect place to find the antique items you didn’t know you needed. Their selection—acquired from all over the world—includes pottery, bird girl statuaries, paintings and other artworks, home décor, dinosaur statues and other knick-knacks. Keep an eye out for their special collection of carefully selected, skillfully crafted European furniture.
Universe Trading Co. is located at 352 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Alex Raskin’s Antiques
Described by the New York Times as “the Ikea antidote,” Alex Raskin’s Antiques has more than 13,000 square feet of shopping space. Located in the Noble Hardee Mansion and taking up each of the building’s four floors, you can find anything from old, unusual decorative furniture, accessories, paintings, oriental rugs and more. Their oldest piece is from the 1500s, while their most recent is from 1967. As owner Alex Raskin puts it, “You can find the best things in the poorest shops.”Alex Raskin’s Antiques is located at 441 Bull Street.
The Vicar’s Wife
Located in the heart of the Starland District, the Vicar’s Wife focuses on anything vintage rather than antique. The Vicar himself says this distinction is important; vintage is any antique that has been refurbished or altered. Their inventory ranges from statement Victoriana furniture, jewelry, lightings, trunks and cases and funky vintage novelties. All of the store’s pieces are carefully handpicked and inspected by the vicar’s wife herself to make sure it is top quality for her customers.
The Vicar’s Wife is located at 2430 Bull Street.
Two Women and a Warehouse
Two Women and a Warehouse is Savannah’s funky alternative to traditional antique malls. With more than 7,000 square feet of space and more than 30 vendors, you can find anything from mid-century home décor to handcrafted items and even Maison Blanche, a paint created specifically for vintage furniture. Their pieces and inventory come from picking trips all over the country, so you’ll never be without a fascinating find that has an interesting story.
Two Women and a Warehouse is located at 2819 Bull Street.
Habersham Antique Market and Collectibles
Located in the former Smith Brothers Butcher Shop—one of Savannah’s first grocery stores—Habersham Antique Market and Collectibles uses not only its history, but also its collection of rarities and antiques to retain the classic, antiquated feel. Habersham Antiques has more than 60 dealers that specialize in estate items, English and French antiques, original artworks, fine china, oriental carpets and much more.
Habersham Antique Market and Collectibles is located at 2502 Habersham Street.
Sandfly Market Place
Located in the charming Sandfly neighborhood, Sandfly Market Place is home to all things nostalgic, but always remarkable. Throughout the marketplace’s 12,000 square feet of space and countless nooks and crannies, you can find anything from furniture to home décor, unique handmade items to jewelry and even taxidermy. With a variety of vendors coming and going, you never know what you’re going to find.
Sandfly Market Place is located at 8511 Ferguson Avenue.
Picker Joe’s Antique Mall & Vintage Market
Fresh to the antique store scene, Picker Joe’s Antique Mall & Vintage Market is a must-visit if vintage is your style. Throughout the halls and different vendor’s booths, you’ll find signage, dining-ware, books, restoration products, lighting, furniture, artwork and even an architectural room with arc salvage. They even offer a premium locally roasted coffee. Picker Joe’s definitely makes good on their promise: “An experience like no other.”
Picker Joe’s Antique Mall & Vintage Market is located at 217 E. 41st Street.
The arts of psychic readings and using preternatural abilities to give advice have been practiced since ancient times. From the Greek Oracle at Delphi to the Long Island Medium, psychics and clairvoyants have been essential resources for those who have imperative life questions or those who want to learn more about their futures.
With its rich supernatural and paranormal history, Savannah is the perfect city to visit a psychic in. So whether you’re in need of spiritual assistance or just looking to have some mystical fun, here are four psychics that are a must-visit while in the city.
Psychic Virginia Lane
At a young age, Virginia Lane discovered her talent of using her empathetic skills to enhance her third eye energy and psychic abilities. Through tarot card, palm and psychic readings, Lane first examines your past to find answers to your future. Once there, she can help you in any aspect of your life, from your greater purpose to finding the right career. With plenty of experience—including a national seminar she conducted between 2008 to 2009 and even being featured on TLC’s Breaking Amish—she is sure to help you find the answers to life’s toughest questions.
Visit Psychic Virginia Lane downtown at 113 E. President Street. Visit www.psychicvirginialane.com or call (912) 220-8866 to schedule an appointment.
The Savannah Psychic
Choosing not to use typical psychic reading methods, such as tarot cards, crystals or palmistry, the Savannah Psychic Christi Powell takes an alternative route to helping her customers rediscover their inner spark. She is certified in six different psychic trainings and uses only her natural abilities—with her eyes closed, to avoid reading your body language—to conduct readings. Her specialties include psychic readings, astral healings and even women’s spirit healings.
Sylvia uses her spiritual intuition to help you gain insight into your past, future and present, often without you having to say a word. Aside from the customary tarot card and palm readings, she also offers a variety of explorative readings to help discover who you were in your past life and who your guardian angel may be. Be sure to ask for an aura cleansing, as well, if you have been feeling like negative energy is clouding your life.
Visit Sylvia right above River Street at 206 E. Factors Walk. Call (912) 233-1854 to schedule an appointment.
If it’s experience you’re looking for, look no further than Mrs. Hope. With her quick wit and natural psychic abilities, Mrs. Hope has been helping Savannahians become better folks for more than 40 years. Her specialties include tarot card readings, palm readings and psychic readings, each for $30.
Visit Mrs. Hope at 220 E. Victory Drive. Call (912) 233-8415 to schedule an appointment.
Vacationing can be tough when you’re a dog owner. Leaving your pup behind in the hotel or Airbnb can be stressful for both you and your dog. But here in Savannah, we want y’all to have the best experience possible. From spas to parks to our very own historic dog walk tour, Savannah is arguably one of the most dog-friendly cities. Pick and choose from the following locations and outings to create the perfect date for you and your four-legged friend.
Oliver Bentley’s Historic Dog Walk Tour
Get a glimpse of Savannah from the perspective of your dog on this historic walking tour tailored for those visiting the Hostess City with their pups. Each tour lasts roughly 90 minutes and less than one mile. There are plenty of stops for rest while you and your dogs are told a knowledgeable narrative of Savannah’s past. Oliver Bentley’s even makes their own premium dog treats. More information at oliverbentleys.com.
Old Savannah Trolley Tours
It’s well-known that Savannah’s trolley tours are a must-visit if you want to get the full rundown of the city’s history. But what many don’t know is that the Old Savannah Trolley Tours are dog-friendly. Their On/Off tour allows you to hop on and off as you please, making it perfect to enjoy our city’s history at you and your dog’s leisure. More information at oldsavannahtours.com.
Bentley’s Pet Stuff (Formerly TailsSpin)
This locally-owned, award-winning pet store offers not only high-quality food and accessories, but also self-service dog washes, monthly low-cost vaccine clinics, and more. Believing that food can make a difference in your pet’s mental and physical health, they only carry foods that are free of by-products, corn, wheat, soy and chemical preservatives. Stop in with your furry friend for a free treat while you browse. More information at petstuff.com.
This pet boutique is the perfect shopping stop for you and your pup. The first of its kind in Savannah, it specializes in high-quality pet foods, environmentally-conscious pet toys, pet-inspired art and more. They even have their own handmade collar line—Hounds Abound—that perfectly captures the essence of Savannah in a dog collar. More information at hounds-abound.com.
Blissful Buddha Pet Services
Everyone deserves a little R&R while on vacation, even your dogs. Blissful Buddha Pet Services is the ultimate experience to pamper your pet to the max. Whether you’re looking for a groomer, a dog masseur, pet photography, or even yoga for your dog, Blissful Buddha Pet Services does it all and will leave your pet a little more blissful. More information at blissfulbuddhapetservices.com.
Savannah Groom Room
Another option for a little doggie getaway is the Savannah Groom Room, one of Savannah’s most iconic pet groomers. Their services include everything from haircuts to baths to “Pawdicures.” They are trained in American Kennel Club breed standard cuts, so your dog will always stay hip to the fashion trends. Savannah Groom Room is appointment only, meaning your pet will always be the center of attention. More information at thesavannahgroomroom.com.
Herty Pines Dog Park
Whether you and your dog are looking for a large area to roam freely or to have some social time with new friends, Herty Pines is a great park to play in. With picnic tables to rest on, water fountains, touch-less waste disposal centers and a dog run, it’s the largest and most popular dog park in Savannah. There’s even a separate area for smaller pups. Located in Daffin Park, 1301 E. Victory Dr.
Skidaway Island State Park is only a 30-minute drive from downtown Savannah, but it’s well worth the trip. Nestled along the Skidaway narrows, enjoy more than six miles of hiking trails with your dog. As you walk through the maritime forest and salt marshes, be sure to say hello to other critters such as deer, crabs and other wildlife. Located at 52 Diamond Causeway.
Colonial Park Cemetery
Founded in 1750, Colonial Park Cemetery is the final resting place of many of Savannah’s earliest citizens. Take a stroll through its winding paths with your dog and read the historical markers to learn more about its residents. The field on the south side of the cemetery is perfect for playing catch, too. Be sure to take advantage of the in-ground doggie waste disposal centers. Located at 200 Abercorn St.
Stop in this daytime eatery during your morning walk to refuel with a meal for both you and your pup. J. Christopher’s serves up traditional house-made favorites in innovative ways, including a dish created specifically for dogs: The Puppy Chow Meal—an egg, sausage, bacon and potatoes recipe served in a dog bowl. The outdoor seating is spacious, allowing your pup to spread out after they finish their meal. More information at jchristophers.com.
Six Pence Pub
This British-style pub is a great spot to stop for a dinner with your pup. The outdoor seating underneath flags and beside their iconic red telephone booth is just as cozy as the inside. Enjoy a drink off of their extensive beer and wine list while your dog enjoys a fresh bowl of water provided by the pub. More information at sixpencepub.com.