Special/Signature Issues » Top 40 Under 40

Melissa Roberts, 27

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None Such Art & Apparel

Melissa Roberts opened her gallery/vintage clothing store in May 2005 with a simple concept: "Try to introduce art back into people's lives who were in my age group," she says -- minus the big price tags. So None Such became a haven for young art appreciators who might actually take a piece home — one by a young artist.

Roberts came out of VCU and knew it to be an ever-hatching egg of talent. She began regularly putting it on display, right in VCU's shadow. Many graduates walked right down the road and landed their first show. This accessibility of art and artist tunes out a lot of the intellectual static that keeps regular people with regular jobs (like Roberts, who had a waitress gig to support the gallery in its infancy) from seeing art and buying it.

The same is true of the gently used rainbow of clothes she sells. It's eclectic stuff that appeals to her recycler's nature and echoes the motive of the featured art — less expensive than elsewhere, but excellent too.

It's all about community, and that's what makes the third role of None Such — as a music spot — attractive, even if that wasn't in the original plan. Lately, it's become a true venue, with musicians calling to see if they can play, word of mouth spreading from artsy people with nice clothes who find something they like there. Roberts is teaching the kids how to share. "It made sense to me to offer [None Such] to people to do whatever they wanted to do," she says.

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