Fashion and flowers on the avenue

A shop for sassy women

First popularized by Shakespeare, the term “minx” was used to describe a woman who is feisty, outspoken and irreverent. Little wonder, then, that Jessica Brommer and Rebeccah Mark chose that name for their boutique, which caters to female clients of all ages who prefer timeless elegance to modern trends in clothing and attire.

Before joining Asheville’s business community, Brommer worked as a visual artist in New Mexico for seven years; Mark was a singer/songwriter in the Virgin Islands. Their creative backgrounds infuse the store’s atmosphere, from the classic clothing styles to the exotic paintings on the walls.

Clients have commented that the luxury of Minx is reminiscent of designer shops in Miami, LA or even France (where, indeed, many of the featured garments were made). Displaying a hint of Victorian style and a touch of gothic imagery, the whole boutique exudes richness — except for the prices, which average a modest $50 for clothing and much less for jewelry, scarves, hats and books.

The latter cover subjects such as cooking, yoga, meditation, art … anything that concerns a woman’s inner well-being. “My goal is to cater to every woman’s personal empowerment,” says Brommer about her choice of merchandise. “You don’t have to be a wildcat, but there’s a little bit of minx in every woman.”

Minx is located at 64 N. Lexington Ave. Hours are Mon.-Sat. 11-6, Sundays 12-5.

For more information, call 225-5680.

For bellies big and small

For expectant mothers, travel can be not only uncomfortable but outright painful — and potentially risky. Yet when Lauran Vareen was pregnant, she found she had to travel to big cities in order to track down clothes that fit properly. Even scarcer were maternity outfits that were stylish and chic. So Vareen teamed up with two other women, and Belle — an all-occasion maternity shop opening Dec. 13 — was born.

“All our clothes are comfortable and hip,” says Vareen. “A mom can feel beautiful wearing them, but she’ll also be able to breathe.”

Apart from the clothing, customers can check out Belle’s community-resource board, which provides information on products and services available to expectant families, not just mothers. “When a woman is pregnant, the whole family is involved. It’s like everyone is pregnant,” Vareen comments. Want to learn about yoga and massage therapy for moms-to-be? Or a directory of dulas (similar to midwives) in your area? How about information on natural-birthing techniques? It’s all there.

One popular form of natural childbirth is water birth, done in a portable, circular tub. During birth, the water itself takes the weight off the body, eases pain and relaxes the labor. For this reason, Belle’s owners felt it was important to offer their customers tub rentals. “We have anything an expectant mother could need,” boasts Vareen, now five months pregnant with her third child.

For those who already have children, the shop stocks wearables for boys and girls up to age 6. Like the maternity fashions, the kids’ clothes are both stylish and comfortable.

Shoppers can also enjoy mineral water and sparkling juices, reflecting the proprietors’ desire to help moms-to-be feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible.

Beginning Friday, Dec. 13, Belle will be open Wed.-Mon., 11-7 (closed on Tuesdays).

The heat is on

Then there’s Lava (68 N. Lexington Ave.), an all-purpose, upscale shop offering everything from men’s and women’s clothing and jewelry to cosmetics and knives. “Knives are a kind of accessory,” explains owner Laura Chandler. “We have some that clip onto your pocket or purse. There are also some that are more suited to men. A lot of times a man is finished shopping before his wife, and the knives give him something extra to browse through while he waits.”

The name Lava, says the 26-year-old Chandler, “depicts the shop’s energy.” Accordingly, the store features a wide range of fashions, from cocktail dresses to urban streetwear. “A lot of our merchandise is hard to categorize,” she explains. “We have customers of all ages, sizes and styles, and there’s something here for all of them.” But the common thread, stresses Chandler, is that “everything’s very modern, cutting-edge.” Goth, club, classic … it’s all there at Lava, open Monday through Saturday from 12-6.

For more information, call 258-5260 or e-mail

The royal treatment

After a long day of shopping, what could be better than a massage? That’s just one of the services available at Adorn (82B N. Lexington Ave.), a new downtown salon/boutique. Owner Rebecca Wagner operates the shop with the help of five experienced female stylists.

For hair, the salon does everything from general cuts (which include a five-minute scalp massage) to dye jobs to dreadlock and beard treatments. Unlike most salons, Adorn uses all-natural products, which are gentler on hair and skin, says stylist Holly Smith.

How about new skin to complement your new ‘do? Customers can choose from four different facials; the 30-minute version costs $30.

Adorn’s professionals also do manicures, pedicures, waxing and makeup application (ask about on-site makeover services for bridal showers, birthday and office parties, or just because).

For something really distinctive, consider artist Katie Crawford‘s henna body art (which lasts up to two weeks). The elaborate, Oriental-style mural on the styling-room wall showcases her work.

Eastern themes are evident throughout the salon’s two full-sized rooms. Scarves are skillfully draped like canopies over the nail center. Chinese music sets the mood. Just inside the front door is a collection of locally made, handcrafted jewelry and accessories (including pieces by Crawford). Quilts hang from several walls, the work of this month’s featured artist.

“Last month, we presented a sculptor, and we had scupltures everywhere. … And next month, it will be a photographer,” Smith explains.

Adorn Salon and Boutique is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10-7. Walk-ins are welcome; appointments are available.

For more information call 225-8828.

Purity grows here

Across the street sits Shady Grove (65 Lexington Ave.), a floral shop that opened around the same time as Lava and Adorn. Co-owner Courtney Bloomfield says the name was inspired by the Grove’s inviting demonstration garden. The shop specializes in locally grown, all-natural flowers and unusual houseplants. “What we have is in-season, and there are no silks or fakes,” stresses Bloomfield, who’s studied and worked in agriculture for nearly a decade.

Shady Grove is owned and operated by Bloomfield and close friend Micah Nerrenberg. The store’s friendly atmosphere entices the senses with the subtle scent of orchids, the harmony of bonsai, and the frequent coos of Bloomfield’s son, 9-month-old Desmond, who’s always close by.

Delivery is available to most local areas. Store hours are 11-6 Tuesday through Saturday and 1-6 on Sundays.

For information, call 236-1713.

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