BR designer’s spin on venerable scarf launches SavvyRoot brand

Celeste Austin has had an artistic flair since childhood. But it’s her knack for taking fashion basics and coming up with savvy new ways to wear them that is changing the young dental assistant’s life.

Last spring during New York Fashion Week, Austin spied a piece that left her puzzled.

“At first I didn’t know whether it was a jacket or a scarf,” she says, adding, “I’ve always thought a scarf was kind of unfinished.”

Realizing it was indeed a scarf, Austin decided the look was one she could make her own. By November, Savvy Root was in full production.

The debut look is a scarf trimmed in suede, and it has taken off faster than Lolo Jones on a bobsled run at the Olympics.

“My friends have always said I should pursue a career in fashion,” she says. “I’ve always been good with fabrics and color.”

Taught by her grandmother to hand sew as a young girl, Austin got a sewing machine and taught herself to sew, experimenting with several fabrics before deciding to use suede for her signature scarf.

“And, I didn’t know how to do buttons so I used snaps instead,” says Austin of how she solved the problem.

The suede adds a “masculine touch” to the scarf, which Austins calls “a classy, clean look anybody can wear. I try and keep the designs in colors that go with everything … colors and patterns you can dress up or down.”

Two weeks after mastering sewing with suede, Austin graduated to other types of leather and furs.

“I never like to keep one look,” Austin says. “I’m always changing.”

From that initial scarf, which sells for between $60 and $84, Savvy Root has grown to include cowl collars, iPad covers, leather and fur clutches, suede and leather handbags and fur capes, for which there is waiting list. After selling the fur cape to a Savannah blogger, Austin found herself with 300 new Twitter followers.

“Every woman should have some kind of fur in her closet!” Austin says emphatically.

On her website, savvyroot.com, Austin describes the brand as a collection of handmade accessories “of high quality and perfection” that she hopes will allow the owner to “feel the simplicity of fashion and begin to collect items that will go a long way in your daily wardrobe routine.”

“I like to make stuff that’s multifunctional,” she explains. “Like my mom (Julie Austin) says, ‘It’s gotta work with everything.’”

For instance, one of her new spring looks is a leather color-block clutch that snaps together so the look can be changed, literally, with a couple of snaps.

And, speaking of snaps, boyfriend Trey Ball helps Austin sew on the snaps as she madly tries to fill the orders that come in when she’s not at her regular day job.

“I work at Dr. Jason Hutto’s office and we get off at 3, so I have from 3 in the afternoon until 2 in the morning I sew,” she says with a laugh. “Trey and I are a good team but eventually I’m going to have to hire some help.

“I’m hoping to be doing clothing by the end of the year,” continues Austin. “I have so many ideas I just can’t stop … I can’t get it all down.”