At The Southern Atelier, our new fashion and lifestyle blog covering the Emerald Coast, we recently created a Chronic Lyme Disease awareness campaign around what we both love most—Southern fashion, design and editorial photo shoots. Be sure to check out a few of our favorite editorial photos from this shoot at the bottom of this post!
My name is Sarah Levey, a native-Birminghamian and current transplant to the beautiful city of Fairhope, Alabama. I co-founded this business that has quickly evolved into so much more than I could have ever imagined, and for that I am immensely grateful.
I have battled a debilitating tick-borne infectious disease called Chronic Lyme Disease (as well as two if its many co-infections, Bartonella and Babesiosis), on and off my entire life and I have spent the previous four years bedridden and unable to function while undergoing grueling treatment for this series of infectious diseases. Several of my immediate family members are battling this disease as well. As I started on my long journey to remission and began increasingly regaining portions of what resembles a functional lifestyle, I joined forces with local 30a editorial stylist Rachel Marie to create The Southern Atelier, a multifaceted fashion and lifestyle blog that also specializes in orchestrating photoshoots for designers, editorials, brands and boutiques as well as providing public relations and marketing efforts to continue the campaigns we have created.
Rachel and I both feel that God has provided us a platform to spread awareness about Chronic Lyme Disease as well as participate in other charity events and fundraisers for causes close to our hearts. This platform from God is so great that we often refer to The Southern Atelier as the place “where fashion meets philanthropy.”
In both the fashion and lifestyle sections of this particular shoot for the Thirty-A-Review Magazine we aimed to fuse the beauty of nature and fashion while generating Lyme Disease Awareness with a non-traditional mode of delivery. We wanted to bring awareness–presented in a unique way–to those who have not been reached or educated about the number one vector-borne infectious disease in The United States. The main message we aimed to deliver was that Lyme Disease does exist in the South and how severe this potentially fatal disease can be if a tick-bite is not treated with antibiotics in an appropriate and timely manner. For more information, click LymeDisease.org, The Alabama Lyme Disease Association, or here to read my personal lyme blog, When Life Hands you Lyme.
Lyme Disease is twice as likely as breast cancer and six times more common than AIDS, yet funding and general education are severely lacking. European-based photographer Ewa Zuk of FKa Photography joined the awareness efforts for this disease that accrues 300,000 new cases a year (CDC) and photographed the Lyme Disease awareness garden shoot for The Thirty-A Review, “A Review of 30-A’s Finest People, Places and Things™.”
The lush garden that weaves a web of alluring beauty around the home of fellow Lyme-disease patient and advocate Leslie Schmidt set an alluring and whimsical natural backdrop for the shoot. The majority of Leslie’s family has been affected by Chronic Lyme Disease, too, and each member is in varying stages of recovery. Leslie’s enthusiasm for Lyme awareness added a special element to this shoot – giving it additional passion and purpose.
The garden is special to Leslie because it, along with her Faith and family, remained a constant during the worst phases of her treatment for Lyme Disease and co-infections; a hobby that she was able to continue throughout her battle.
The fruits of her labor during her fight with Lyme resulted in creating the absolute perfect location for the awareness shoot. In a way, the shoot in her garden celebrated the strength and courage that defines Leslie as what the community refers to as a ‘Lyme warrior.’
Piper Williams, who modeled in both the fashion and lifestyle shoot alongside me, has a strong tie to the cause; her fiancé is also battling Chronic Lyme Disease and its co-infections. Seeing first-hand the significance of this severely under diagnosed disease is why this actress, photographer and model was able to add a special and personal element to this awareness project.
During the shoot The Southern Atelier used limes as props to symbolize the presence of Lyme disease in the South. We put together a powerful team of creatives for our garden lifestyle shoot, and we – Jessica Faye of the blog Lipstick, Heels & a Baby, Gaelle Le Goff, designer of Haute Handcrafted Accessories, Piper Williams of Piper Arielle, and Rachel Marie of The Southern Atelier and myself – all took the “Lyme Disease Challenge” and decided to #takeabiteoutoflymedisease. This challenge has gone viral and almost every major celebrity and several athletes have joined the campaign by posting pictures of them biting a lime; thus taking a bite out of Lyme disease.
Lyme disease exists in the South and, contrary to outdated medical information provided by several health organizations, has proven to exist in Florida. Leslie Schmidt is a member of the Florida Lyme Disease Association and I am a member of the Alabama Lyme Disease Association, which can both be found on Facebook. To learn more about the Lyme Disease Challenge, please visit lymediseasechallenge.org to read the facts, see the celebrities and their #sourfaceselfies and learn how you can participate in the challenge and spread awareness, too.
We would love to see YOUR #sourfaceselfies while you #takeabiteoutoflymedisease! Be sure to tag us in your post or post them to our page. Below is the article that appeared in Thirty-A-Review, which can be picked up at businesses, restaurants, hotels and private communities all along Highway 30-A as well as in select upscale locations in Destin, San Destin and Panama City.
Enjoy the photographs of our campaign below!
Photographer: Ewa Zuk
Stylist: the Southern Atelier
Style and Set Assistant: Interior Decorator Sherry Finnell
Assistant Stylist: Amy Giles of Wardrobe Made Simple
Hair: Nancy Walthes and Nancy Weddington
Makeup: Morgan King Makeup
Garden: Leslie Harris Schmidt
Florals: Rachel Marie and Shannon Schmidt
Piper Arielle Williams
Jessica Lynn Fay
Local Vendors and Designers:
Coco’s by Mcline
Sirens at the Beach
Haute Handcrafted Accessories
La Vie Est Belle
Other Designers and Vendors: