These are just a few of the examples of Mary Lou Cothran's work in designing and manufacturing doll accessories. She will be one of the vendors on hand at Saturday's Artisans Fair at Sturdivant Hall.

All dolled up: Selma native makes career dressing up dolls

Published 8:11pm Tuesday, November 27, 2012

As a child, her mother let her design her own room. Mary Lou Cothran said she painted her walls mustard yellow, her piano olive green and her shelving fuscia pink. To her it was a magical room, chic in design with fun colors. Cothran, who once lived in Selma, began her love for mixing and matching fabrics at a young age which ultimately led her to create several companies including Cothran Inc. and Javis Davis.

Cothran will bring her newest project, Anna Bella Casella, to Selma for the Sturdivant Hall Artisans Fair on Saturday, Dec. 1. Anna Bella Casella evolved from her work in designing baby bedding at Javis Davis into her current project where she designs, finds and sells bedding, clothes and accessories for dolls.

Fit for expensive dolls like the popular American Girl Doll, she offers a unique alternative to the thick price tags of the doll name brands but keeps the trendy and playful style.

“I just love working with fabrics,” Cothran said about her business. “I love to find beautiful fabrics and I love to put them together with other beautiful fabrics and that is what I enjoy doing most.”

And it is the patterns and fabrics she puts together that made her Javis Davis bedding so popular and now Anna Bella Casella. On her website for the doll bedding and accessories, Cothran mixes toile with bright colors; she mixes paisley print and pink leopard patterns.

“I am just like a shark after food — I am searching, searching for beautiful fabrics to use that I can put together in unusual ways that people probably wouldn’t think of until they actually see them,” she said. “I just love the doll beds. They are the favorite thing that I have ever so far in my life.”

Sandy Greene on the Sturdivant Hall Board said she remembers when Cothran first began a business in Selma as an entrepreneur.

“She made these painted hair barrettes and she got several of us ladies to help her paint them,” Greene said. “She started out very small here in Selma and she is still a big part of the community even though she has moved.”

There will be approximately 30 vendors like Cothran at Sturdivant Hall on Saturday and Cothran said she is packing her car with as many doll beds and accessories as possible. Her doll products can be seen on annabellacassella.com

Another artisan will be heading to Sturdivant Hall with a product you cannot put on dolls. Tasia Malakasis will be bringing some of her finest assortments of goat cheeses all made from Limestone County. After an appearance at the Selma Dallas County Library, Sturdivant Hall Artisan Fair organizer Patty DeBardeleben said Malakasis is in high demand to come back to Selma and sell her cheeses.

“She came to the library to sell her cookbook and sign the books but didn’t bring any of her cheese,” DeBardeleben said. “We were all dying to try some and people would love to buy her cheeses so we are all happy she is sending someone from Bell Chevre to sell the products.”

According to the Bell Chevre website the company has received more than 50 national awards from the American Cheese Society and other famed institutions. Alabama native Malakasis persuaded the owner emeritus of Belle Chevre that she could be the next generation of Bell Chevre.

“I could not be more excited to highlight a great product that is not only from Alabama but is of Alabama,” Malakasis said on her website. “The uniquely mild but distinctive flavor of our cheeses is directly related to the terrain on which the goats are raised and the cheese is created. Limestone County, is a big part of what is special about Belle Chevre. The French use a term, terroir, to speak mostly about why wine is so special from a certain region — the soil, the climate, the chemical and alchemical sense of place — and it is the same with Belle Chevre’s cheeses.”

All cheeses are handmade and hand packaged. They will be available for tasting and for purchase as holiday gifts at the Sturdivant Hall Artisan Fair Saturday.

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