By Milan Ballard
Gloria White said she has a love of all things beautiful, and that’s what led her to open a shop in Homewood which specializes in bringing one-of-a-kind “wearable art” to Over the Mountain residents.
White said her lifelong love of discovering unique items around the world inspired her to open Jezebel’s on 18th Street in downtown Homewood in July.
White, a Homewood native, said Jezebel’s offers “a curated collection of vintage, one-of-a-kind costume jewelry, special occasion hats, handbags, fashion accessories and vintage fragrance bottles.”
The shop also carries contemporary jewelry and pieces by vintage Hollywood glamour designers like Miriam Haskell, White said.
“These are pieces collected from my travels all over the world–from Paris, India, Istanbul and Hong Kong to Santa Fe, New York City and New Orleans,” she said.
White said the new Homewood shop’s sister store has been a destination spot on Magazine Street in New Orleans for 15 years.
White said her love of unique items began 25 years ago when she started to accumulate vintage jewelry for her personal collection. For her personal collection, she said, she searched for pieces that made her say “Wow, that’s beautiful.”
When buying a new piece, White really enjoys the aspect of personally meeting the artists, hearing their stories and making a connection, she said.
White said she wanted to expand beyond her personal collection and “bring beautiful wearable art to Homewood, Mountain Brook and the Birmingham metro area” by opening Jezebel’s.
“People should have a choice to express individuality and personality. I would like to be the go-to place for that. I want people to feel better when they leave than when they came in,” she said.
White said she waited a year and a half to get the retail space on 18th Street.
“I have wanted a shop on the main drag since I was in the eighth grade,” she said.
White said she lived in Hong Kong as a teenager, where her father was a professor at Hong Kong University.
White credits her father with exposing her and her siblings to different places, religions and cultures.
Her family moved back home just in time for White to spend her senior year at Homewood High School before attending Samford University to study communications and psychology, White said.
From there, she took with FedEx Corp. in Memphis, Tenn. and eventually became director of sales. While with FedEx, White said she was responsible for the national and international sales teams, thus requiring her to travel “everywhere,” but mainly Europe.
While abroad, she found herself gaining inspiration from the shops of independent artists, she said.
White said her favorite places to find new pieces are in New York, in Santa Fe and Taos, N.M., Paris, California, “or any new and adventurous place.”
She said she makes buying trips to New York in January and July and to Paris in the late spring, with a trip to a New Mexico art festival somewhere in between.
White said her favorite piece in her personal collection is “a beautiful Miriam Haskell necklace” her husband sent to her while they were on vacation. She said Jezebel’s currently has some other beautiful Miriam Haskell pieces in stock.
The shop has not only distinctive fashion offerings, White said, but a great selection of art for the home.
“Seeing anything beautiful can make you feel better. I think we need more beauty in the world. There’s a lot of ugliness, and I just want to add more beauty,” White said.
White said the store’s name was inspired by a 1938 Bette Davis film about a Southern belle who gets herself in and out of trouble but triumphs in the end.
White said she thinks the store’s name represents “a strong, individual, elegant, sassy woman. She has pizzazz.”
If she wasn’t helping bring pizzazz and beauty to her customers’ lives, White said she could see herself working as an animal rescuer or university professor–or even as a chef.
White said she’s a “Frank Stitt groupie” and that one of the best birthday presents she’s received was an afternoon spent working at Stitt’s Bottega Cafe.
But White said she has a lot more to do with Jezebel’s before she entertains thoughts of another career.
White said she would love to expand the business to Austin, Texas, or Asheville, N.C.
“It would be wonderful to have a shop in Paris,” she said.
In the immediate future, White said she’s considering arranging girls’ night out events at the store and hosting trunk shows.
Jezebel’s is open Tuesday-Saturday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. It is also open after hours by appointment only.
For more information, visit jezebelsbhm.com or call 502-7669.