Holley Steele of The Beaded Dragon

People of Yorkville Series – Holley Steele of The Beaded Dragon

How did you come up with your name?

HS: I wanted something catchy and there’s a lot of artisan crafts and jewelry in here. I was going to be The Beaded Lady for a second but I thought people might call me The Bearded Lady, so I went with The Beaded Dragon and my logo is the dragonfly.

Beaded Dragon 1

This is my first time business owning; I’ve been here since March, so I’m coming down the homestretch on my first year. I get a lot of my stuff from Asheville and Brevard. They have the best antique shops, vintage shops, little shops, so I just pick up things here or there. I like anything kind of eclectic, odd, anything that’s bohemian. A lot of my vendors are local artists, so it them an outlet to be seen. I have Louise Bradford Blanks in here right now. She’s absolutely amazing. I love her colorful vibe.

Beaded Dragon 4…..

The majority of people that I have in here, which I don’t have a lot, are local vendors. I’ve got a thirteen year old girl who makes her own jewelry came in, so I’ve got her up on the wall over there. I’m just trying to support my local arts, my local community.


Did you have any fears in opening a business?

HS: I absolutely did….How well I was going to be received, because again, it’s a little different. I don’t have Gamecock and Clemson stuff. It’s not monogramming. It’s a little different. You just don’t know if people are going to like it. The majority of people come in here and love it. My customers are really loyal. Once I get somebody in here, they always come back to see me. Every once in awhile I’ll get somebody that’ll come in the door and I’m pretty sure they think I’m a witch (she laughs, because she’s not a witch, people) because they’re like, Oooh interesting, and they’ll turn around and walk right back out. But I’m like, well, you can’t please all the people all the time! (laughter)

Beaded Dragon 3

At this point a customer interjected to say that she was new, and she loved the shop and the fact that she could find a unique gift. The pieces caught her eye right as she walked in the door.

HS: My demographic is myself, so I’m like the regular, blue collar, workin’ chick. So, umm, the most expensive dress I probably have in here is $25. Right, it’s not a boutique. That’s not my demographic. York is a blue collar town, so I didn’t want to bring something in that was super high priced. I mean, who doesn’t want a really cool dress for twelve bucks or a fun vintage bag for twenty bucks?

Beaded Dragon 2

The community has really come out. There’s a lot of art and artist and people that want original pieces and people that want something a little different and you know, it helps so much when people support something like this because the Waltons and all of those people, they’re just going to buy a bigger yacht and I’m providing Christmas presents for children who live in the community and I work in the community. So when people get on board with shopping small and being loyal to small shops, it can make us or break us. I know everybody has to go to Walmart because it really is a great value (laughter), you have to go in there sometimes, but as far as gift giving and finding something original, it helps so much.

What would be a struggle you’ve experienced?

HS: I would say the lack of, the empty businesses down here. That hurts. The buildings, people will have properties and they’ll just sit on them, which is the worst thing that you can do for a downtown. And the rent that some people charge, I don’t know how they’re thinking that they are going to get the rent because we are in a small town, so that is difficult. Because you want you downtown, for every spot to be filled up. That is the biggest thing, that people that live in the community that own these buildings just let them sit there and they don’t do anything with them. That hurts their community. I don’t know if they think of it that way, but it’s true.

A lot of downtowns, I learned, have ordinances, where businesses, owners, they have six months to sell it or rent it, and I’m thinking, hmm, we need that here. Right? It would help them too for tax purposes; it does nobody any good to leave them empty.

What has been the best outcome of opening the shop?

HS: I’ve made a lot of really good friends down here. It’s my customer base. Because it’s a small town, they’re really loyal, they’ll come in and come in again, and again, and you start to make friends. Because I didn’t know anybody when I came to York. I knew my landlord, and that was just because she was my landlord. And now I have lifetime friends, being down here.


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