Fire Up the Hydrants

Words by Nina Guzman    Video by John Roche   Feature Photo by Joshua Jones

Last month you might have noticed something different in the Athens downtown area. Small murals popping up in the most unexpected of places; fire hydrants! No, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That is a bear drawn with playful precision on a fire hydrant. To commemorate 80 years of clean drinking water in Athens, fire hydrants all over downtown have been turned into fun (and useful) art pieces. After a blind evaluation process, 20 artists with varying degrees of skill were chosen by a panel of judges representing the Athens Area Arts Council (including yours truly), ACC Fire and Emergency Services, ACC Public Utilities Department and the Athens Downtown Development Authority. What a fun way to bridge water conservation and art.

Inspired by this wonderful mix of water conservation awareness and art, John Roche created a video showing off the newly designed hydrants.


Visit the Fire Up the Hydrants to learn more more and to vote for you favorite hydrant!  Voting ends in February 2017 and winners will be announced March 2017.

Athens Eats: Franchises that Make a Difference

Editor’s Note: This rerun from last year is a perfect one for the week after Thanksgiving! We have a lot of fantastic businesses in this town, local and otherwise, that are helping our community. Let’s give them some love. 

Athens thrives as a town known for having strong local roots. While our local business owners are always looking for ways to team up, get involved and benefit others, a number of small franchises are also giving back to the community. Dane Henderson of FIVE and Whit Richardson of Taziki’s Mediterannean Cafe have sought opportunities serving nonprofit organizations in the community with food, funds and even some fun.

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Let’s Give Thanks: Part 2

Words by: Nina Guzman

Here in My Athen, we have a lot to be thankful for, which brings us to part 2 of our Thankfulness series. We hope this post finds you safe and surrounded by the people you love.




Cathy Marszalik – Photographer/Contributor

I’m thankful for the The Classic City that I’ve called home for the past 7 years. Between its kind residents, creative vibes, and outstanding food, I’ve truly found a place where I belong, and a place that has helped me become the artistic, adventurous and happy person I always hoped I’d become. Thank you so much for many years of twinkling winters, invaluable lessons, and beautiful friendships… Athens, I love you.



Kelsey Smith – Graphic Design Intern

I am so thankful for my little family in Athens & the little life we share together. They have seen me through so much change over the last year. Doing life wouldn’t be half as meaningful if I didn’t get come home to their love every night.



Sam Stephens – Food Editor

The day before Thanksgiving will be the first anniversary of getting this beautiful girl! Rosa, my 3-ish year old pit bull, is the only reason that I’m as sane as I am. I’m so thankful to have such an incredible animal as a companion. Dogs are the most loving creatures; I’m blessed to have been chosen by the best one.




Austin Steele – Photographer

I’m thankful for the season of fall. Yeah, I know everything is dying and it’s getting colder, but it’s the time of year when we can come together with our friends and families to break some bread and (preferably) drink some beer. Cheers!


Let’s Give Thanks

Words: Nina Guzman

It’s that time of year again. Time to visit family, stuff our faces with fattening/delicious food, and watch the parade on TV. As it starts to get chillier outside (and even chillier in our terribly ventilated houses) we keep ourselves warm with thoughts of thanks. Thanks for free wifi in our favorite coffee shops, for cute puppies and gas station ramen. We are thankful for you; our readers, sponsors and friends that support us, read our posts and attend our events.

This week we will be rolling out  thoughts of thanks from our contributors and editors. We hope this post finds you in good health and good company.


Mobley Brandenburg – Contributor

I’m thankful for the simple scenes that make you stop in you tracks. We can all use more time to reconnect and soak in the moment.


Courtney Blackwell – Style and Communications Intern

This year I am thankful for the many blessings I have achieved through the year of 2016. An internship I love, clarity in the direction I want to go in career wise, and the opportunity to celebrate another Thanksgiving with those I love.

Kayla Renie – Blog Photo Director

I’m a big believer in loving the little things in life. There’s so much I’m thankful for, but I’m particularly fond of my cat and all my little plants. Having a sweet pet to come home to and inheriting my mom’s green thumb makes life pretty great.


Jason Clarke – Contributor

I am thankful, thankful for my five awesome cats and the love of my life, who cleans their litter box when I don’t want to…so a lot of the time.


Nina Karina – Managing Editor

Here is a package my father sent me a few months ago. Every corner of this box is marked with positive affirmations and loving messages. It wasn’t my birthday and there weren’t any holidays going on. I keep this package in a prominent place in my living room to remind myself that I am not alone, that I am loved. I am thankful to have such wonderful people on my side.



Athens Style: Brittani Bumb and Untitled Thoughts

Words By Jose Peña. Photos provided by Brittani Bumb.

Brittani Bumb, the woman behind the brand Untitled Thoughts, is a high-spirited, eco-friendly fashion phenomenon. Inspired from having to wear school uniforms back in bayou bountiful Louisiana, Bumb began and expanded a brand that exudes clean looks with a “green thumb” state of mind. Her desire to pursue fashion culminated primarily from two things: her love and preservation for nature and (limitation as a source of creativity) the minimal amount of self-expression bestowed upon her community.

Brittani Bumb working backstage at La Vie en Rose Fashion Show at the 40 Watt this past October. Photo by Jason Machen.

Bumb began sewing using her great-grandmother’s cast-iron modeled sewing machine and pulled fabrics from her attic, closet, basement—really anywhere she could find them. The idea of keeping a low carbon footprint and not contributing to the negative environmental impact the fashion industry can create with its manufacturing really spoke to her. Bumb also implements her designs with few resources, believing that “more limitation sparks more creativity.” She found it refreshing to come up with ideas for designs without the luxury of having an extraordinary amount of supplies—it allows for the mind to really get creative and think outside of the box.

After working with a mannequin from Joanne’s for five years before it fell apart, Bumb realized she had to amp up her designing experience. She relocated to Georgia for her mother’s company and attended Savannah College of Art and Design after a hurricane tragically destroyed her home. While in college, Bumb visited Athens, Georgia from time to time and attended craft fairs held by local vendors like Indie South and Community. Intrigued, Brittani reached out to some of the vendors and was invited to sell some of her garments in Indie South’s Springtacular and received other invitations to work more craft fairs.

Brittani Bumb working backstage at La Vie en Rose Fashion Show at the 40 Watt this past October. Photo by Jason Machen.

A friend of Brittani’s told her about an internship posting for Community, a local boutique that advocates sustainability, while working in one of the fairs. The internship was seeking to fill a position for a sewing technician which caught Bumb’s attention, on top of the fact that they sold curated vintage fashion. She sought out to learn more about the business paying no regards to the fact that she wasn’t a local. Sanni Baumgärtner, the owner, ended up contacting Bumb requesting her to present some of her work. Impressed by what was presented to her, Baumgärtner praised her sewing skills and ended up allowing her to work on custom orders for customers. The brand Untitled Thoughts began to bloom as she progressed in her work and people started buying more and more of her collection. The success and positive reaction through her customers ultimately led to Bumb’s official move to Athens.

Today, Bumb continues to sell her brand in local boutiques and works with many organizations to bring an emphasis on sustainable fashion and how easy it can be to obtain. Bumb confesses that she does not necessarily want to become some hot-shot, haute couture designer, but instead wants to share her skills with a goal of bringing a community together through fashion. Maybe aiding the less fortunate to make their own clothes with old fabrics or to teach people how to alter articles of clothing into new, individual pieces. Without a doubt, Bumb’s strong-willed dedication to respect nature (and to look good while doing so), is truly admirable.

Make sure to check out Brittani Bumb on Instagram and at her website then see her collections for yourself in Community and Indie South or on her website!

The following is a photoshoot for Bumb’s most recent party dress collection, A Midnight Clear. All photos taken by Bumb herself.

Model: Astrid Von Winter
Model: Christine Byun
Models: Nikki G and Astrid Von Winter
Model: Astrid Von Winter
Model: Christine Byun
Model: Nikki G
Model: Astrid Von Winter
Model: Astrid Von Winter
Model: Nikki G


Great Dame Jewelry

Great Dame

*Editor’s Note: We are excited to once again feature Katherine Ball of Great Dame Jewelry as we rifle through the archives and revisit stories we think are important. Take a look at the story by Christy Rogers and gather holiday gift ideas.*

Katherine Ball: The Face Behind Great Dame Jewelry

Words and Photos by Christy Rogers. 

“Complacency is the devil.”

Katherine Ball is a woman after my own heart. Clad in all black, we sat together at Hendershot’s Coffee and laid our lives out on the table. A passionate dreamer, Ball spoke to me with a surefire, yet humble confidence and dug into how both her career as an up-and-coming musician and her Great Dame jewelry line strive to be as far away from that “devil” as possible.

Great Dame

As a child, Ball’s first instrument was her voice. When she was only three she made the jump to piano, teaching herself scales and techniques as well as picking them up in her various music classes at school. Much of her influence came from church – Ball split her time between two churches, one hymn-oriented and the other soul-centered. Always learning and craving more singing and piano techniques, Ball was forced with the choice – “It became about living inside the box versus being able to compromise and harmonize and experiment.”

Ball definitely broke the norm in her teens, hiding out in her car and blasting Metallica and Black Sabbath on her way to gymnastic meets and other events. Even though her music now is Southern Gothic inspired, both genres hit close to the cuff. “I grew up in an environment where people said how to act so I tried to act against them,” Ball says. “It’s about taking control back into the artist’s hands.”

Great Dame

That, Ball definitely did. Opting to spend time honing her melodic craft in college, she graduated and moved out to Colorado where she found the person she wanted to be. “It’s like a blank slate kind of,” describes Ball, touching on the weight some history can hold. “And it’s like, ‘Are you gonna let it control you and sink your ship or are you going to make something beautiful out of it?’”

Eventually Ball moved back to Georgia, packing with her so many of the earthy, honest attributes of Colorado and channeling them into her music and jewelry. Picking up the guitar as well, Ball traveled up the Mississippi River with a band, eventually leaving to go through grad school at UGA. “Athens has so many things available at your fingertips that if you just kind of let go, some pretty cool stuff will happen,” Ball praised.

Great Dame

Aside from her music, Ball dedicates much of her time to working on the pieces for her brand Great Dame Jewelry. Mixing in flavors of the East, Great Dame revolves around the idea of empowering women by celebrating the talents and joy that are already inside them.

Reflecting this idea, Ball blends antiques, mostly comprising the metals, from her father’s side and a gemmed, earthy character from her mother’s side, all while taking inspiration from them to support small businesses across the US. “We are living in a new Renaissance age. People are out here honing their crafts and should support each other.” Thus, the brand is about so much more than jewelry – every piece tells the story of a “revivalist, sexy, classic, empowered” woman carrying an air of timelessness around her neck or wrist.

Even though the ladies sporting Great Dame are timeless, they are far from complacent. They echo the ideas of constantly discovering your own natural gifts, refining them until they’re exceptional, and not being afraid to get uncomfortable and show them off.

Great Dame


Athens Eats: Sweet Beijos Treats

Words by Whitney Watkins, photos by Shayon Keating

In our fast-paced, on-demand society, food is often regarded as something that needs to be readily available for consumption. Craig Page eagerly challenges our fast food obsession with his business, Sweet Beijos Treats.

Beijos (pronounced “bay-zhoues) is the Portuguese word for ‘kisses,’” writes Page. Sweet Beijos is a home-based and licensed Cottage Food business. Page’s main products are brigadeiros. According to Page’s fiance, Lucas Vasconcelos (and Brazilian history), the traditional chocolate brigadeiro has a history reflecting the resistance during the dictatorship period in Brazil. In fact, the literal translation of brigadeiro is “brigadier.” These treats are bite-sized and shaped like truffles. Their texture is the perfect mix of creamy and fudge-y, and Page offers them in an ever-growing variety of flavors.


Continue reading “Athens Eats: Sweet Beijos Treats”

Athens Style: Indigo Child

Words by Maddie Newton. Photos by Savannah Shaw.

Indigo Child is a hip and new, rock-inspired clothing and lifestyle boutique with a vintage flare nestled in downtown Athens that opened in late October. Morgan Miller is the twenty-five-year-old boss lady, Fashion Merchandising graduate from University of Alabama, and owner/operator of Indigo Child. I met with Morgan to learn all of the inside deets about her unique shop.

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Morgan centers her shop around what an “Indigo Child” really is: someone who is creative, influential and ahead of their time. She wanted her store to mimic that vibe and be a laidback hangout for people to shop, listen to music and just chill. Music is one of Morgan’s biggest inspirations and the reason why she brought Indigo Child all the way to Athens.

Widespread Panic, who’s southern rock jams originated out of the Classic City, is one of Morgan’s favorite bands. You could call her one of their biggest fans since she followed them around on tour and collected countless posters that now adorn the walls of Indigo Child.

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Old School rock, funky jams and Athens’ notable music scene are essential to and immensely influence Indigo Child’s overall aesthetic. In fact, you’ll walk through their door to find a rustic, wooden stage surrounded by leather couches, floor pillows and comfy chairs to watch and listen to tunes from local bands! Adding an authentic feature, guitars signed by The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd are mounted and on display beside the stage.

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Indigo Child’s clothing reflects their décor to a high degree. Seventies-inspired graphic tees from Electric West and Wildfox, Indigo Child brand’s bell bottoms, leather jackets, bodysuits and far-out rompers from For Love & Lemons can all be spotted hanging on one of their racks. Morgan’s love for rock and its iconic apparel (more specifically, bell bottoms) propelled her to start her own business. One day, she hopes to be at the point where she designs all of Indigo Child’s clothing.

Indigo Child has many unique attributes that contribute to their originality. “Good Karma” is a section of Indigo Child where men and women can shop for hand-picked vintage clothing in almost every size. There’s anywhere from old football jerseys to mom jeans and corduroy cut-offs to Patagonia jackets that await to be discovered in Good Karma.

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Indigo Child is even partnering with Georgia brands for the better. Mamie Ruth, a brand based out of Savannah, Georgia and headed by designer and owner, Emily Bargeron, partnered with Indigo Child to benefit Athens’ homeless population. Mamie Ruth donates shirts to Indigo Child who then turns their profits from Mamie’s donated line into food and hygiene goodie bags. Whenever a customer buys a shirt from Mamie’s donated collection, they’ll receive one of these bags to give to the homeless or someone less fortunate. Morgan’s helpful heart doesn’t stop there. Indigo Child will be carrying Happy Feat, a nonprofit organization whose merchandise benefits children and people with special needs.

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Indigo Child is also the only brick and mortar store to this date that carries Jimmi wZ leather bags. Morgan worked for Jimmi while she was at the University of Alabama, attending trunk shows and managing his social media accounts. On top of all of this, Indigo Child carries good hYOUman brand and Guat Handmade.

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Come by and shop or listen to live performances at Athens newest and grooviest boutique and make sure to follow Indigo Child on Instagram to keep up to date with the store happenings!

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Athens Eats: Donna Chang’s

Words and Photos by Emily Llamazales.

Athens’ newest must-eat Asian restaurant is right in the center of Five Points. Donna Chang’s is the perfect place to go all-in for a family-style meal with friends or to get to know each other on a classy, but casual date. The atmosphere is brilliant and lovely with a white marbled bar and eye catching patterned plates. I sat down for a wonderful meal and chatted with Ryan Sims about his and Shae Sims’ new restaurant.


When you first enter Donna Chang’s you are greeted by a lovey waitstaff and cannot help but notice the craftsmanship that went into the design. Ryan tells me, “it looks a lot like our home in many ways. The tabletops (made by Gus Darnell) are meant to mimic the table Shae’s grandpa made that sits in our dining room. The glassware and cocktail gear have been collected over the past five years.” (That cocktail gear lines the bar and had me longing for every piece.) They have also drawn design inspiration from the many restaurants they have admired together over the years.

The design is only one element that’s complimented by their great atmosphere, partially due to some killer tunes on a great sound system. Ryan informed me that, “Etienne DeRocher helped us pick out an amazing vintage sound system. On it, we try to keep things different and fun. We find ourselves using the word ‘festive’ a lot.  Usually we start the night with some garage or surf-rock, early Beatles or Stones, and 60’s french pop and then make our way towards some hip-hop a little later in the evening.” 


Now for the menu! Since the restaurant itself is a small space with a small crew, Ryan says, “they aim to have as much focus and control over all aspects, especially the food. Keeping the menu tighter helps with these goals.” You won’t struggle over a five page menu or spend thirty minutes reading it, because no one enjoys that arduous process anyways. Instead, the menu features diverse items all with a unique flavor that won’t leave you wanting for more. You honestly cannot go wrong here. I had the Kale and Brussels Salad, an amazing, crispy salad tossed in lime juice and fish sauce making it light and wonderful. You will not want to stop eating this and can easily down a whole bowl despite its large portion. Next up was the Chickpea “tofu,” a non-traditional tofu. Instead of your normal soy tofu, it was the most creamy and silky thing you will have ever put in your mouth. This is not something you’ll find anywhere else. The texture was incredible and addicting. It was paired with vegan dashi and beautiful, fresh veggies. To top things off was dessert. I’m an avid ice cream consumer and it was quite hard to choose just one from the menu but I ended up with the five spice ice cream. “Shae has been making ice creams for many years and it is one of her passions. I realize the bias, but the five spice is the greatest flavor I’ve ever had,” as Ryan tells me. I must agree. As far as I could detect, it was a wondrous blend of star anise, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. The topping was a tangy and crisp apple ginger compote that blended perfectly. You can count on Ryan and Shae to bring quality ingredients into their dishes, with a market section of the menu meant to highlight the produce they get from local farms. They also use local and organic produce throughout the rest of the menu when possible, routinely ordering from Collective Harvest, Woodland Gardens, Sparta Mushrooms, and others.


Donna Chang’s is a perfect addition to the Five Points neighborhood and a much-needed dining experience. I’d like to leave off with a bit of their backstory and how Donna Chang’s came to be as told to me by Ryan: “When Shae and I first started dating many years ago, Asian-inspired food was something we both enjoyed cooking and eating together. We would drive to Buford Highway for ramen or Chinese, or we would cook something from the Momofuku cookbook. We are always on the hunt for different and exciting things. When we lived in NYC, we dined out a lot. Mission Chinese was in the regular rotation. We got to know the chef there a good bit, and we were awestruck by his creativity, but also his generosity and sense of hospitality. When we moved back to Athens in 2014, we knew we wanted to build a restaurant. One day we were cooking Chinese food for the millionth time at home and it dawned on us that this is the type of place we should open.”

Athens Style: The Art of Thrifting

Words by Cliffton Jacques. Photos by Robert Daniel.

I recently had the opportunity to meet and spend a morning with Jay Gulley, a local realtor, and a true Athenian. Jay, a man who has done it all in Athens from leading a band, working as a buyer for vintage shops, and now selling homes with character, spoke about and shared with me one of his favorite passions: thrift shopping. Yes, thrift shopping is nothing new in Athens. From pop culture to college students’, thrifting is well known, but my time with Jay led me to experience and appreciate the activity just a bit more thoroughly. Although, he does say thrifting in Athens is more difficult than most towns. A town full of thrift happy college students and vintage shops, there is definitely competition to get the best stuff first.


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