FLAT ROCK — A new jewelry and high-end gift shop has opened in the Little Rainbow Row space that had been occupied by Hand In Hand Gallery.
Melinda Lawton, who made the earrings that Carrie Underwood wore the night she won "American Idol," migrated back east to open the shop.
"It's a flagship store for my jewelry," said Lawton, an award-winning graphic artist who created hundreds of titles for television shows and movies.
Lawton's move from Los Angeles to Tryon is part love story and part new business ambition. She and her fiancé, Alan Berkow, were college sweethearts who reunited after 32 years.
"I looked her up on Facebook and found out she had two Emmy nominations," Berkow said.
Lawton recalled how Berkow, who grew up in Miami, persuaded her to change her college major to art despite her father's dismissal of that option as "basket-weaving."
She's been making art her entire adult life, from earrings and necklaces to the movie and TV titles that tell who produced, starred and edited the show.
She has created titles for ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, Fox, Disney, A&E and others. Born in Indiana, she moved around the country with her family (her father was an Air Force test pilot). After graduating from the University of Florida, she worked as director of video design at an NBC station in Boston. She moved from there to New York and then to Los Angeles. Two years ago, she reconnected with Berkow. They moved back east.
"It's kind of like I'm in college again and I'm telling her to change her major to jewelry" from the Hollywood gig, Berkow said.
All of her jewelry is handmade of precious and semiprecious stones, which she buys herself in an annual trip to Tucson, Ariz. It can be seen at melindalawton.com.
The shop also stocks gifts, candles, handbags, linens and other "vintage treasures." It will carry the Lollia bath and body products, which Lawton said are hard to get here. Everything is handmade.
"This is not an outlet," Berkow said.
The couple lives in Tryon and hopes to find a place here.
"I'm back with the love of my life," Lawton says.
Sweet Magnolia Gallery is open 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday.