The Good Life
with a Southern Drawl

Alabama’s Most Beautiful

By Amy Bailey — June 27, 2014

The state slogan is Alabama The Beautiful and not just because of its blue skies. If you are from Alabama you are well aware of the beautiful people in our state, beautiful on both the inside and out. From gorgeous smiles to witty charm to passionate souls, we chose Alabama’s Most Beautiful. See their photos by clicking the gallery and to get know them by learning their favorite quotes, favorite places, and favorite memories.

Karis Lamb Wilson, Fashion Blogger and Realtor at Advantage Realty
Favorite Quote: “I’m an idealist. I don’t know where I am going, but I am on my way.”

Favorite Childhood Memory(ies): Undoubtedly would be having the opportunity to travel across the southeast playing violin with my siblings. What a blessing it was to share our music with others. We laughed, we cried, endured both the good times and bad, but the music always kept us together. I will be forever grateful.

Favorite Place: Hmmmm. Rosemary Beach! The beauty, glamour, and sheer perfection is almost too much to handle. It speaks to me. And the water. Sigh. The water washes my stress away.

Laurie Webb, Auburn University Student  

Favorite Quote: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” – Steve Jobs

Favorite Place: My favorite place is without a doubt, Charleston, SC. What is there not to like about Charleston? It has great food, people, the ocean and a wonderful atmosphere. It has a “small town” southern feel to it.

Favorite Childhood Memory: When I was about 13, my family and I toured the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina and rafted the Nantahala River. It was one of the most exciting and beautiful vacations I have been to to this day.

Kari Kampakis, Writer and Author
Favorite Place: The beach. It’s my favorite place to unwind, recharge, and remember what’s important in life.

Favorite Quote: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Favorite Childhood Memory: My fondest memories are mostly non-eventful moments when I was hanging out with my brother and three sisters. Our house was always loud and boisterous. We laughed, danced, sang, argued, and drove each other to the brink. Above all, however, there was a love and loyalty I could carry into the real world like a security blanket. That’s why I work hard to make home a safe haven for my daughters, so they can have that, too.

Tara Gray, TV Personality
Favorite Quote: “Doubt it do without it. Believe it, achieve it!” – Susan Tucker (My Mom!) My mom has ingrained that quote into my overall outlook on life for as long as I can remember, and still does to this day! Whenever I begin to worry about work, a project or my hectic schedule, I can hear those words and suddenly all is right with the world again.

Favorite Place: What I miss most about living in Alabama, besides my family of course, is the beautiful Alabama Gulf Coast. Los Angeles has beautiful beaches, but nothing quite compares to the white sugar sands of Alabama. As a child, and as an adult, Alabama’s coast is still my favorite place to vacation. In Birmingham, my favorite place has to be my mom’s home. There’s nothing better than leaving the traffic and hustle and bustle of LA behind, jumping on a plane and walking into her house which is always filled with the incredible smell of down-home Southern cooking…something I definitely can’t ‘t get in LA!

Favorite Childhood Memory: I actually have two! One has to be the huge Fourth of July extravaganzas my grandparents would throw each year. My entire gigantic family would gather at their home for a day of swimming, eating and playing games under the hot July sun! That day was always filled with love, happiness and excitement for me as a child, and nothing beats a big Southern summer party! The second came when I was crowned Miss Alabama Teen USA at the age of 17. Representing the great state of Alabama on a national level at Miss Teen USA was a true honor for me. I got to experience that same sense of pride a few years later as Miss Alabama USA competing for the title of Miss USA, but nothing quite compares to the first time when I was a teenager. Feeling that true sense of duty to make my home state proud is something I will never forget!

Jeffrey Hansell, Chef at The Veranda
Favorite Quote: “You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” –Christopher Columbus

Favorite Place: Cat Island, MS- You find that all you cares and worries are forgotten for that moment, yet everything still feels familiar.

Favorite Childhood Memory: There are too many to count, but the constant adventures of Summer growing up on the beach is what always sticks out. Shirtless, shoeless, and careless!!

Britni McMillan, Fashion Consultant/Buyer at The Clothes Tree
Favorite Place: For inspiration: Gulf Stream Park in Hallendale Beach, Florida. For love of the game: American Airlines Arena, go Heat! For fashion: The Clothes Tree by Deborah. Shut up and shop y’all.

Favorite Quote: Doing the best you are capable of doing is victory in itself, and less than that is defeat. -John Wooden

Favorite Childhood Memory: Spring Break with the fam in our one time use camper at Blue Lake Campground in Andalusia, Alabama! Didn’t have to travel far to create some roast worthy memories! Years later, married my hubby at this same campground!

Joel Cheatwood, Director at Jordan Alexander Jewelry
Favorite Quote: “Meanings aren’t found in words, they are found in people.” – Marcia Adkins

Favorite Place: My favorite plave I’ve ever visited is Rome, Italy. A few years ago I visited Rome and other parts of Italy with my partner and his family and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

Favorite Childhood Memory: As a child growing up in rural Alabama, I spent lots of time outdoors. I’d have to say my best childhood memories inolve being outside, especially at family gatherings.

Alison Robinson Cannon, Mother and VP of Premier Banking at BancorpSouth
Favorite Quote:  For years I thought that my favorite quote was an original quote from my father.  He always stressed that you can’t lead others well unless you really care about the people you are leading.  A couple of years ago I found out that “People don’t care what you know, until they know how much you care.” was a quote from John Maxwell and not a Craig Robinson original. The important part about the quote isn’t who wrote it but how servant leadership plays out in your own life.

Favorite Place: Manhattan.  It doesn’t matter how many times I have been, there is ALWAYS something new to discover.  I love everything about it – the food, the arts, shopping, and discovering new shops and brands.  My husband and I are foodies and spend months planning where we will dine.   Discovering a new favorite chef is always exciting.  I am a type-A personality who likes to be constantly busy, so I love this city since it is never ever boring.

Favorite Childhood Memory: My favorite memories from my childhood always involve horses.  I was horse crazy from birth, but my absolute favorite memory is of my fifth birthday. I wanted my own pony more than anything in the world, but my parents had told me that we could not get one anytime soon.  My mom invited my entire kindergarten class for my birthday.  She made a giant pony cake that had chocolate and vanilla spots.  Little did I know that the cake was just a prelude to the big surprise.  After I blew out the candles, my mom asked everyone to walk outside.  My dad was holding the reins of a black and white spotted pony that matched my birthday cake.  It was my first pony and his name was Cracker.  My parents had completely surprised me with the one thing I wanted more than anything else in the world.  It was probably one of the most magical birthdays ever.  I only had Cracker a couple of years before I moved on to bigger horses but he will always be my first horse love.  My parent’s gift of Cracker was a lot more than just a pony. During my time with Cracker I learned how to be responsible, fearless, and to persevere (getting back into the saddle after falling off).

Edwin Marty, Founder Jones Valley Teaching Farm
Favorite Place: Downtown Birmingham, under a Mulberry tree on the corner of 8th ave north and 26th street.  Got married under that tree…

Favorite Childhood Memory: My dad used to take my me and my siblings shrimping during the summers on the backside of Gulf Shores – Wolfe Bay.  I loved being on the water at night (when shrimping is best!) with the stars above and the sound of the waves beating against the bow of the boat.  It seemed like hours we’d drone along pulling a net and then finally get to pull in the haul.  Dad would dump whatever we caught in the bilge of the boat and the kids would sort the seafood.  It was like a science class with a culinary class as the reward for a job well done.  Just seeing what amazing diversity of life existed just a couple of feet below the water was so amazing to my young mind.  And then the dolphins would show up, but in the dark we only knew of their presence from the sound of their blowholes pushing out water, bringing in oxygen.  I’d sit in the bow and marvel at how these beautiful creatures were air-breathing mammals just like me – but they didn’t need a boat, or a motor, or a net to catch breakfast.  

Favorite Quote: “If you don’t have much soul left and you know it, you still got soul.” -Charles Bukowski
“to whom much is given much, much will be required” -Luke 12:48

Bernadette Cherie, Schaeffer Eye Center
Favorite Quote: Imperfection is beauty madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.

Favorite Place: My grandmother’s kitchen

Favorite Memory: Picking blackberries in the summer with my cousins

Brandi Belcher Barnes, Sales at Levy’s Fine Jewelry
Favorite Quote: I have a lot of favorite quotes! If I have to narrow them down to one, I have to go with the subject I believe to be most important, love. The quote, made by Mother Theresa, says “Smile at each other. Smile at your wife, smile at your husband, smile at your children, smile at each other – it doesn’t matter who it is- and that will help to grow up in greater love for each other.”

Favorite Place: I have been fortunate enough to live in or take extended trips to exciting cities across the U.S. For a while I considered myself a city girl. However, I have learned that my favorite place to be is right here in Alabama. This is where I have experienced a lifetime of love from the people I am the closest to. This is the place I have made a life time of memories. This is where I met my wonderful husband. I love making new memories in new places. I love the adventure of travel; but at the end of the day, I love to come home!

Favorite Childhood Memory: It is difficult to pick one favorite childhood memory when I have so many to choose from! I have thought about the exciting special occasions and fun trips; but the memories that mean the most are the ones that happened consistently! I have chosen one with my mom and one with my dad. I loved how my father would come home from work and play his record albums of true oldies so that he and I could listen to them as we played card games! Because of these special moments, I have a huge love of all music and Skip-Bo! My mother constantly bought books, some fun and others educational. She would read these books to me, then she used them to teach me how to read, now I LOVE reading! The moments that created these memories are the moments that helped to build my self esteem! I am thankful everyday.

Gia McCollister, Owner and Baker Extraordinaire Gia’s Cakes
Favorite Quote: “A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.” Paulo Coelho

Favorite Childhood Memory: The only grandparents that I knew were my mom’s parents. My best childhood memories are when I visited them.

Favorite Place:
New York. Many memorable moments in my life happened in NY.

Sarah Israel, Marketing Director Adamson Ford
Favorite Place: My favorite place is where I am in life– feeling the warmth of knowing God is with me on the final lap of beating Chronic Lyme Disease and finally achieving wellness.

Favorite Quote: “Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us.” -Sir Thomas Browne

Favorite Childhood Memory: Our foxfire red lab, Savannah, had puppies when my two sisters and I were little girls. We were able to watch the miracle of life and our parents used it as a tool to teach responsibility and assigned various tasks for us to take care of the puppies. We also learned a valuable lesson of loss: we fell so deeply in love with each puppy and it was difficult to watch them go, one by one, as they were adopted. Playing with those puppies, who would bite our socks and hold on as we walked in an effort to stop us from leaving, was one of the most joyful parts of my childhood.

Chris Penney, Mother
Favorite Place:
My favorite place is easily my home. Its where my husband, Zack, and I brought our children home from the hospital, it’s where love always resides, memories are always being made, giggles are constant, singing and dancing happens daily, it’s where we are teaching our children about Jesus and the importance of His death on the cross. I love to relax on my front porch, craft in the kitchen or read God’s Word in my bedroom…for me there is truly no place like home.

Favorite Quote: “Do you know that nothing you do in this life will ever matter, unless it is about loving God and loving the people He has made.” -Francis Chan

Favorite Childhood Memory: I have sooooo many great memories of my childhood. The thing that I love to look back on the most and want to implement in my household is the unconditional love that my sister and I were shown from our parents. We were so dearly loved, and we always knew it…no question about it. What a gift!

Carrie Fagan Montgomery, Events Manager Birmingham Musuem of Art

Favorite Place: The Mission District in San Francisco, CA

Favorite Quotes: “Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing.  Making your unknown known is the important thing.” Georgia O’Keeffe
“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never reach it.” Salvador Dali

Favorite Childhood Memory: Almost every summer of my childhood my two sisters and parents would pack up our 87’ maroon suburban with our favorite books, summer skirts and snacks for the long drive from Huntsville, AL to Berkeley, CA.  We picked up my three aunts (with all of their kids) and grandmother in Berkeley and drove east through the mountains of Yosemite Valley to Camp Tuolumne. Family camp with 15 of my closest relatives??!! Looking back, it does sound a bit chaotic and cheesy, but those were the best summers of my childhood. I remember jumping in the freezing snow melt of Big Creek, just to turn around and hop back into the wood fired sauna perched on the side of the creek, making tie-die silk scarfs, nature hikes with my cousins, and talent shows with my two sisters, almost anything was possible. Unfortunately this past year one of the largest wildfires in California’s history struck Yosemite National Park destroying more than 160,000 acres, including the city of Berkeley’s popular Tuolumne Family Camp. This was a magical place, I will never forget.

Ryan Graham, Sales Isagenix
Favorite Place: There are so many pristine, beautiful places in our world that I love; however, one place I could never get tired of is Italy!!!  I especially love The Tuscany region-wow, awe-inspiring landscape that exists for miles and the beautiful history of each town. Never gets old!

Favorite Quote: Go out into the world today and love the people you meet. Let your presence light new light in the hearts of others!-mother Teresa

Favorite Childhood Memory: So, so many of them thankfully, but the one that stands out the most (well there are 2!) was our weekend trips to our lake house at Lake Martin. We spent every waking hour in the water….skiing, kneeboarding, and riding the intertube. I remember waking up early to get a paper with my grandfather, popcorn with ‘special’ seasoning, and sunny D!  Those days and memories I will never forget!!

Michael Hanson, Entrepreneur and CEO Revolve Fitness
Favorite Place: Santa Barbara, CA

Favorite Quote: “Clothes make the man.  Naked people have little influence on society.” – Mark Twain (One of many quotes I love from him and yes, this is one of his real quotes)

Favorite Childhood Memory: My great-grandmother from France lived to be 104 and was an influential and amazing icon in my life.  The problem was that she cooked all the Christmas meals in Chicago…even when her sight was leaving her.  Everyone was too embarrassed to tell her cooking was lacking taste for the simple reason she would grab the wrong ingredients all the time.  The facial expressions of my relatives trying to force some foreign-tasting object into their stomachs still makes laugh to this day.

Mary Margaret Boswell, Willis Group
Favorite Quote: “Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world.” – Martin Luther

Favorite Childhood Memory: Spending summers at our family lake house on Inland Lake, near Oneonta, AL. My mother’s parents built the cabin as a vacation home when she was young, and it was enjoyed by three generations, with hardly any renovations made. It was a great place to be a kid, no matter how old you were. There were no distractions, such as TV or internet; just quality time spent with family and enjoying the beautiful Alabama outdoors.

Favorite Place: Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. The beauty, history, intimacy, and flawless acoustics make it a sanctuary (literally!) for music lovers like me. Some of my fondest memories living in Nashville this past year have been attending legendary performances at the Ryman with great friends.

Lindsey Lutz, Area Manager Johnson & Johnson
Favorite Quote: I have a couple favorite quotes that I absolutely live by, but professionally, my favorite is  “Win the day.”  I adopted this from the Ole Miss football coach, Hugh Freeze.  My favorite part of my career is that I get to manage an amazing group of 60 sales reps in 4 states.  Their development and success is my absolute passion. To be successful in business, you must do whatever it takes each and every day to “win the day.”  Give it everything you’ve got day in and day out. Good things come to those who work hard and never give up.  I strive to live this motto both personally and professionally!

Favorite Childhood Memory: My favorite childhood memory involves growing up watching college football with my brother and my dad every Saturday. Because of this, I am a HUGE Ole Miss football fan, and to this day, I obsess over all things Hotty Toddy.

Favorite Place: I am fortunate to travel all over the Southeast every week for work, so I get to see some really amazing places. However, I have come to respect and love the beauty and uniqueness of Birmingham. When I get home on Fridays, I absolutely adore happy hour at Bottega with my girlfriends, dinner at Hot and Hot with my hubs, or football Saturdays at Club Lutzi (our house). There is truly no place like home!