Seams Like Old Times

Shiny, happy Glister dresses are reborn from the scrap pile.

by Melanie McGee Bianchi . photos by Rimas Zailskas & Matt Rose

It’s fitting that fashion designer Valerie Phillips named her company after a word close to glitter. “Glister,” a dress line that she launched last year, is an Old English variant of the word “glitter.” Her edgy, rustic frocks are quite modern but also somehow evoke forlorn maidens, saucy wenches and the pastoral curves of valley, brook and wildflower.

Such bucolic beauty also makes the dresses wear well in our own hills and dales. The 26-year-old Philadelphia transplant acknowledges that she’s a city girl who fell in love with the mountains—and it shows. “I’m very into [the traditional aspects of] Appalachian culture, like making things from scratch,” she says. One wouldn’t necessarily go bouldering in a Glister get-up, but the dresses’ faded patchwork chic needs only a whiff of fog and a ghostly old-time soundtrack to be complete.

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Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:53PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References60 References

Sock It To 'Em

A 65-year-old family sock business has battled to survive. Now, the Parkers could be positioned to win in the end.

by Jess McCuan . photos by Matt Rose

There’s little glamour in making socks. For the most part, the socks made in Amy Parker’s plant, Parker Hosiery in Old Fort, North Carolina, look similar to the ones her grandfather E.W. made when he started the plant in 1946. He manufactured only men’s crew socks. They came in white, navy, brown or black. Yes, the machinery is different now. And yes, there are many more styles and colors to choose from, as evidenced by the bright green, pink and striped plush footwear that hangs in the factory’s showrooms. But to stroll through a huge room humming with knitting machines and grab a still-warm, slightly rumpled cotton sock from the pile must feel much the same to Amy and Jeff Parker today as it did to their grandfather more than 60 years ago.

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Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:51PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments2 Comments | References2 References

Lookin' for Love Online

These ladies got fed up with their in-person options and tried their luck on the World Wide Web. The result? A few horror stories, a long-distance deal and a speakerphone dream come true.

by Susan Reinhardt . photos by Matt Rose

You can never tell what lurks in the rivers of online dating. No matter what the site, they all seem far from safe territory. Stalking? Ripoffs? Rampant misrepresentation? Everything about looking for love online sounds like riding the rapids with one oar missing. But every now and then, a love story unfolds. Weaverville mom Carolyn Crook’s story, which ended with a snowy ceremony this past Christmas, sounds like a movie script. Others haven’t had such storybook experiences, but at least one found what sounds like an enduring romance. VERVE takes a closer look at love in cyberspace.

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Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:50PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment

Roque Status

Never Blue’s Jesse Roque has spiced up the Hendersonville food scene. Next up? Radio gigs. And a chocolate lounge.

by Cassady Sharp . photos by Matt Rose

Never Blue’s chef and owner Jesse Roque doesn’t want to make fancy lavender-infused chocolate ice cream. She just wants to make really good chocolate ice cream. Yes, the menu of her Hendersonville restaurant is filled with sassy, playful dishes—like Mermaid’s Chow (herb butter-seared shrimp) or Mary’s Rent (basil-pine nut pesto with lamb sausage, artichokes and manchego cheese). But she insists that the inventive, Latin-infused cuisine she serves isn’t all that exotic. “I don’t want to be one those weird, avant-garde chefs. I want to be creative, but I also want to make good chicken pot pie,” Roque says.

During some late-afternoon downtime at her Main Street restaurant in Hendersonville, Roque held forth on the virtues of simple cooking. “People should eat food because it tastes good—not because a famous chef made it,” she says. Still, her resume includes a few rock-star chef credentials. She graduated from the Johnson and Wales culinary program when it was still in Charleston. Then she worked at the Fontainbleau Hilton Hotel Miami in her home state of Florida and the five-star Charleston Grill before moving to Hendersonville and starting Never Blue with her husband Edson in 2007.

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Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:48PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments1 Comment | References6 References

Lost in Space?

Actually, Asheville artist Lisa Nance found herself there.

by Ursula Gullow . photo by Anthony Bellemare

You can call her Lisa, but sometimes she’s Gus. That’s because 27-year-old Asheville painter Lisa Nance was once so obsessed with the astronaut Gus Grissom that she started using his name. (And still does.) She even printed up flyers for her senior show at UNCA that said her artworks—with images of astronauts, saddles and cowboys—were by someone named Gus Grissom.

The actual Gus Grissom, a man from Indiana, was the second American to fly in space. He was part of several famous NASA missions in the 1950s and ‘60s and was killed in a pre-test launch for the Apollo 1 mission at Kennedy Space Center in 1967. When Nance was a teenager growing up in the North Carolina piedmont, she wanted to be a pilot too. But she simply wasn’t that good at flying, she says, and it was an expensive pursuit. She had much more natural aptitude for art. As she started researching NASA and astronauts, she was drawn to Grissom’s story because many of his missions failed. “I was a cursed pilot stuck in the art field. I identified with him as a failure,” Nance says flatly.

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Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:46PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment

Fetch and Sketch

A longtime waitress debuts her first book of illustrations next month.

by Jonathan Rich . photo by Matt Rose

Yes, Holly McGee is a server. But she has much more to offer than a list of daily specials.

The New York native has waited tables for 17 years, the last six at West Asheville’s bustling Westville Pub. Four days a week, she stays busy toting beers back and forth to the bar and ushering soups and sandwiches out of the kitchen. But when she gets a break, she can be found etching out a world of her imagination on a sketchpad. In March, her first published work, a children’s book called Hush, Little Beachcomber, will roll out in stores around the country. The book is written by Dianne Moritz and includes 28 pages of McGee’s pencil and acrylic illustrations.

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Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:44PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments1 Comment | References10 References

Fine Tuning

A roving singer-songwriter finally settles in to the Asheville music scene.

by Jess McCuan . photo by Matt Rose

Someone once compared Utah Green to Alanis Morrisette, which Green finds funny. She ran into Morisette in the lunch line at a New York yoga institute a few years back, and Green does vaguely resemble the Canadian rocker. But in fact, Green’s sound is much more Gillian Welch than it is Morisette. Her warm, simple folk tunes with no backup instrumentation call to mind early Lucinda Williams, something that may come in handy when she plays to Southern audiences.

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Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:43PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments1 Comment

Makeover: Casual Encounter

After a tough winter, an Asheville mom keeps it casual. Her new look totally sizzles.

by Mick Kelly . photo by Matt Rose

Winter is a tough time to look glamorous. Especially when storm after storm dumps snow on Western North Carolina, which means babysitters get stranded, work and school get canceled and kids stay home inside for days on end. Not to mention the fact that the usual cold-weather gear includes layers and layers of bulky, bland clothing.

Rachel John has had all this to deal with and more. She’s a 31-year-old Asheville mom who lives in Oakley with her husband Zeke, their three-year-old daughter Ivy and three dogs, Tic Tac, Sage and Rory. John, who moved here in 2003 after taking classes at Penland, works full time as a waitress at the Tunnel Road restaurant Pomodoro’s. In the past few months, her whole family got the flu, and she got yet another stomach virus after her flu was finished. To top it all off—morning sickness. John, a Michigan native, is currently five months’ pregnant with her second child. “This is the best time in the world for this,” she told VERVE when we called her in January about pampering her for a day and helping her spruce up her look.

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Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:42PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

Faltering at the Alter

And other love troubles.

by Susan Reinhardt . photo by Rimas Zailskas

These local ladies can’t push, pull or coax their beaus down the aisle. Nor can they convince them to go through the drive-thru at McDonald’s. Next time, says Susan’s mama, try picking up dudes at Home Depot.

Q The guy I’m seeing (no commitment as far as I know, or at least he hasn’t made me aware of having one) saw me out with a guy friend. The guy I was out with is only a friend. But my dude got jealous and requested that I be tested for STDs. Should I tell him to beat it? And how do I get him to tell me where I stand with him? He’s so emotionally constipated.

—Steaming in Swannanoa

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Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:39PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments1 Comment

Buttoned Up

Celia Barbieri, Asheville’s “button florist,” upcycles buttons (and plenty more) into art and fashion accessories.

by Joanne O’Sullivan . photos by Matt Rose

It’s not unusual to find a crafter or seamstress with a stash of buttons squirreled away for just the right project. Buttons lend themselves naturally to collections. They’re accessible, affordable and varied, and one always has the sense that they could be so much more than just a way to keep clothes on. But Asheville’s self-described “button florist,” Celia Barbieri, found a way to unlock the hidden potential of her button collection. She makes buttons into flower heads, finished off with wire stems and assembled into button bouquets.

A Warren Wilson graduate, Barbieri started making button flowers in high school, giving them away as gifts. By the time she finished college, friends were encouraging her to sell them, and two years ago, she finally turned her artistry into a real business. Barbieri’s button stems and bouquets can be found locally at the Gallery of the Mountains at the Grove Park Inn and the Kress Emporium. In addition to using buttons she’s collected or been given, Barbieri makes her own buttons out of clay, imprinting the wet surface with texture from another button.

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Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:36PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments2 Comments | References1 Reference

Org Chart

Kathy Jackson helps lead the fight against (dis) organized crime.

by Mick Kelly . photo by Matt Rose

She hasn’t always been a professional organizer, but Kathy Jackson isn’t ashamed to say she’s always been a bit anal retentive. Jackson, 57, has a master’s degree in library science and loves to get her hands on filing cabinets, records and archives of all kinds. Whether in a library or a corporate office, she simply has an impulse to make order out of chaos.

She moved to Asheville six years ago after spending nearly a decade in corporate research and strategic planning for Sprint. But she struggled to find work in Asheville that suited her particular skills. By chance, she came across the National Association of Professional Organizers and attended their four-day annual conference. Suddenly, she says, “I felt like I had found my people.”

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Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:34PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment

Playing Hooky

interview by Jess McCuan . photo by Rimas Zailskas

Name: Kathi Petersen

Age: 53

It seems like everyone in town knows you. What do you think they’d be surprised to learn? I think they’d be surprised to learn that I have a daughter who’s 6’4” and another who’s 5’8”. I’m five feet and shrinking.

Do you have any guilty pleasures? I do play hooky. My husband and I go to the movies in the middle of the day and eat a big giant popcorn. We own our own businesses. I don’t feel one bit guilty about it.

Excellent. I should try it. I did it even when I had a day job. I had this co-worker who was my partner in crime. I would say, ‘I have a 1:00 meeting with Mike Carr.’ That was the code for Carmike. And it was like, ‘Oh, Mike Carr. I met with Mike yesterday.’

Where do you get your style tips? Well, my uniform is a black shirt and a black skirt. Then add fun things on top.  

Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:33PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment

Blue Bayou

interview by Jess McCuan . photo by Rimas Zailskas

Name: Maya Chapman

Age: 26

Do you always wear blue? I do wear blue a lot. Blue is my favorite color. It’s one of those colors that’s stuck with me since I was a child. I was never one of those girls who liked pink.

Is your house blue? I live in an apartment complex. It’s not blue. It would be much better if it was, though.

Wouldn’t it be great if everything was blue? Yes! I love it. It would make me smile.

Do you have any pet peeves? I have an issue with people’s teeth. I think mouth care is important.

It seems like an easy thing to take care of. Yes. Bad teeth are preventable. I’ve never had a cavity in my life. It kills me to see kids with cavities. It’s like—are you kidding me? She’s 2. She doesn’t even have real teeth yet, and she has a cavity.

Any other rules to live by? Always try to keep a smile on your face. Try to remain positive. Stress is preventable too.

Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:30PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment

Happy Camper

interview by Jess McCuan  .  photo by Rimas Zailskas

Name: AllieMarie Price

Age: 18

Why do you go by the nickname Miss Daisy? I absolutely adore daisies. They are my favorite flower. They represent my personality. They’re wild flowers. They grow spontaneously. I consider myself a go-with-the-flow, go-with-the-wind kind of person.

And I understand you do some acting? I’m going to be the lead in my musical this year at Veritas [Christian Academy]. I will be Marian the Librarian.

What do you want to be when you grow up? My dream job…I would love to travel around the world and be a missionary. Or, I’d love to own a summer camp somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I went to a camp that inspired me to start my own.


Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:27PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment

Pretty in...Honeysuckle?

A reddish-pink is Pantone’s color of 2011. Will it take off in Asheville?

by Mick Kelly . photo by Matt Rose

It’s that time of year again. In this case, time for color giant Pantone to paint towns pink.

Since 2007, Pantone, a mammoth New Jersey company that creates colors for everything from fabric to industrial plastics, has been announcing a color of the year. In 2009, it was “mimosa,” a yellowish orange. In 2010, it was turquoise. For 2011, Pantone’s Color Institute picked a reddish pink that it calls “honeysuckle” and predicts that the pink will show up in a slew of products, from wedding dresses to appliances. “Honeysuckle is a captivating, stimulating color that gets the adrenaline going,” Leatrice Eiseman, the institute’s executive director, said in a press release about the announcement in mid-December. “It’s perfect to ward off the blues.”

Asheville boutique owners and fashionistas haven’t seen a wave of reddish-pink inventory yet, but they weren’t altogether down on the idea. “It’s an optimistic color,” says Frock’s manager Jenny Lane. She and her mom Betsy Bradfield had a few honeysuckle items in the store when we stopped by in January. Because Pantone’s announcement affects fashion designers, Lane anticipates seeing more of it when they travel to a trade show in Las Vegas this month.

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Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:24PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References3 References

Home Sweet Crate

How shipping containers can help Haitians.

story & photo by Jess McCuan

On the anniversary of an earthquake, Martha Skinner launched an earth-shaking concept: turn a shipping container into a house for a family of ten. In fact, she and her partner, Doug Hecker, and their students had been kicking around the concept for a while. And to be sure, the basic idea isn’t new. In recent years, architects and designers have started using shipping containers as eco-friendly elements in everything from office space to college dorms. Skinner and Hecker, both architecture professors at Clemson, originally thought to use the containers as emergency housing in Caribbean communities after hurricanes hit.

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Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:21PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References5 References

Editor's Note

To start the year off right, I got out of town.

I took a five-day cruise to two tropical locales, and it was the first time in years that I’d taken a break from my wired life. For those of you who work with computers and telephones every day, I recommend escaping, if only briefly, to someplace with no wireless signal. Not even one. I learned many things on the trip. One of the most important was that the world wasn’t going to end just because I didn’t answer my emails.

Another thing the break made me appreciate is how much fun it is to work on VERVE. When I returned, I had a great excuse to drop in on Amy Parker, whose grandfather started the Parker Hosiery mill in Old Fort, North Carolina, in 1946. Parker, now the president and co-owner with her brother Jeff, knows socks inside and out. She’s been helping to run the business since just after high school, when she spent summers in the factory. Touring the cavernous plant in Old Fort was fascinating, and I particularly enjoyed hearing about the Parkers’ most senior employee, Lois Barlowe, (see page 46) who has been shaping and pressing socks for more than 50 years.

The rest of this issue is chock full of fascinating tales about recycled dresses (page 40), a new chocolate lounge (page 26) and lookin’ for love online (see Susan Reinhardt’s first VERVE feature, page 42). If you don’t find love this month, try chocolate. You can’t go wrong with all those good endorphins that come from gobbling one of Jesse Roque’s truffles. 

Happy eating, and reading,

Jess McCuan

Posted on Sunday, January 30, 2011 at 05:12PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment