April Stammel is the VP of Marketing and Community Development at Newport, focusing on bringing out all the stories of South Downtown – how it began and is beginning all over again. Prior to joining the company two years ago, she held a range of leadership positions in business development, marketing, creative strategy and event management for start-ups, non-profits and social enterprise organizations.
April received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Florida and a Master of Business Administration Degree from Vanderbilt University.
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Otis Damón is a millinery brand that does not focus on creating trends but timeless pieces for his wearers. Each creation has its own personality & style without duplication. A lover of the 1920’s, 1930’s, & 1940’s era milliner Otis Damón incorporates the past with the present as he orchestrates an artistic flow with each creation. Color & shape is the main focus of the birth of each millinery piece.
At age 15, Otis Damón had contemplated suicide. Otis hid his thoughts of ending this lonely state of struggling with depression through his laughter & caring for others. After meeting & confiding to educator Gleora Sibley of his suicidal thoughts, Otis was instructed to attend Mrs. Sibley’s class everyday on his lunch break. Mrs. Sibley taught him sewing techniques & entrepreneurship during these meetings. Otis soon began creating wears for him & others.
Finding his niche in this whole creative & fashion world Otis Damón began creating a collection of hats. His mom would become his first muse & patron of pride. Little did he know that his talents would fester a career involving head transformations. Otis Damón had garnered a significant following for his millinery creations from community residence.
In his home town of the Incorporated Village of Hempstead former Mayor James A. Garner presented Otis Damón a Citation for Entrepreneurship at the age of 16. While attending Nassau Community College Otis caught the eye of hat guru Lola Ehrlich of Lola Millinery, where he interned and later assisted. Otis also worked under the tutelage of the late Horace Weeks of Peter & Irving. This is where he mastered the art of hat blocking /molding.
His eyes are presently set on upscale retailers such as Bergdorf Goodman & Neiman Marcus. His breathtaking couture designs have been on 5th Avenue in Fortunoff with Mr. Fortunoff’s fine jewelry & sold at Henri Bendel. His hat drama has been in movie & film such as Step Up, Queer Eye, Being Mary Jane, The Skinny & off Broadway productions such as “Look What The Cat Dragged In” written by Cheryl Lane Lewis. His hats continue to top off New York Fashion Week. Otis Damón has created millinery pieces for actors & entertainers Neyo, Musiq SoulChild, Gabrielle Union, Alicia Keys, Patti Labelle, & Victoria Rowell to name a few.
Although his demeanor is polite and shy, his creations are cloaked in ribbons, para sisal, velour, beaver felt, fur, austrian crystal, & flowers peak volume. His creations narrate the character of the women & men wearing them without restrictions.
If you asked Sean Keaton, Co-Founder of Kea Beverages, as a child what he wanted to do when he grew up, he probably would have told you he wanted to go into advertising. His late mother was a hometown hero within the industry and her passion for storytelling was instilled in him before he was old enough to walk.
In lieu of becoming an ad man, Sean spent the better half of his life exploring what it means to be a storyteller. From hosting a speakeasy in New York City with six course meals, inspired by the flavors and people around him, to being the personal photographer for an Atlanta mayoral candidate, Sean has always sought the moments that will add up to the fullest life journey.
So it makes sense that when Sean was feeling stagnant in his prior restaurant job that he would seek out an adventure that would lead to a great story. Start a restaurant called “ParmaSean” or take his sailing to the next level and become a part-time yacht skipper?
The answer ended up growing in his backyard (quite literally). Sean was inspired by his plum tree to make plum wine. When friends and family asked for more, he knew he was on to something. Plum wine may not be on the official menu (yet) but beverages did become the greatest story of all.
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Courtney Johnson is an Atlanta native, a graduate of UGA, and a mom of two. After a decade of nonprofit leadership, Johnson decided to pursue her passion for creating beautiful things that make women feel beautiful. She formally launched her artisan jewelry collection, Agape Gems, in March of 2016. In 2017, Johnson won the Belk Southern Designer Competition and had her collection featured in 9 Belk stores and on Belk.com.
In 2018, Johnson assisted with launching EmpowerDesign, a wholesale showroom at AmericasMart showcasing handcrafted jewelry from 15 female designers from around the globe. You can find Agape Gems at more than 20 locations across the southeast. Metro Atlanta stockists include The Beehive, Scottsdale Farms, Garage Door Studio, Hello Gorgeous, Crafted Perimeter Mall, and Sugarboo & Co.
Most recently, Johnson was selected to receive a storefront on Pop-Up Row on historic Mitchell Street in downtown Atlanta. She seized the opportunity to create a space called Atlanta Makery. As the name suggests, Atlanta Makery carries the work of some of Atlanta’s most inspiring makers, designers, and artists. Jewelry, apparel, candles, apothecary, fine art, leather accessories, artisan chocolate truffles, air plants, prints, and more can be found in this beautiful shop. Johnson took care to curate a collective of primarily female and minority owned brands. Atlanta Makery offers public and private workshops and also offers corporate gifting services. Atlanta Makery is located at 211 Mitchell St.