Sweet Tea with Jessie and Amber

Sweet Tea with Amber Johnson and Jessica Cartwright

PH: I want to hear about your daughter’s business…..

AJ: It’s called Wick-Kids. She started it last May, but she wasn’t ready to sell until June because she had to find different suppliers. Believe it or not, wax smells. It stinks. Bad. We had to find commercial grade wax, because it doesn’t stink. But if you just go buy wax at a craft store, it smells terrible. She’s got her ten face flavors – scents – that people always want, and then we try to throw in a few seasonal ones each season.

Sweet Tea 2
Wick – Kids Candle Co.


JC: Coffee Shop and Toasted Marshmallow are probably her two biggest sellers, and they smell amazin’. And pecan pie.

PH: And she’s seven? (Seven years old, people. She started a year ago. Kids rock it, don’t they?)

AJ: MmHmm. She’ll be eight in two weeks. She bought a golf cart. That was her goal.

PH: She was able to buy a golf cart off of candles??

AJ: Yes. She’s a hustler. (Laughter:)

JC: She sells them too, when she’s here. She walks out here, and she talks to the customers, and she tells them how she got started. They will buy those candles!

AJ: She just bought herself a commercial wax melter so she can do more at a time. Before it would take us all day. Now we can do a lot more. Last time we did 60 candles and it only took a couple of hours, so she’s stepping up her game.

JC: If only we could get Skylar’s chickens to lay eggs that fast….


PH: Her name?

AJ: Weslee, and they are called Wick-Kids. Yes, she’s a big time hit around here. …. It all started camping, we camp, and everybody has a golf cart camping and she just had a bike. So one morning, we got up, and she had made some candles, and said she was going to take them to the campground. We keep a little jar of money, and she takes a dollar out of it and goes to the camp store to buy a chocolate milk. So she came back, and she had $60 in the jar. She sold everything. The next time, she took more, and every time she’d sell out and here we are a year later..

PH: How long have you guys had the store? I know the store has been here, but you guys recently took it over?

Sweet Tea

JC: We’re the third and last owners. We opened on November 1st. This whole process took place within a week and a half? Someone saw it on Facebook and tagged me, and someone had tagged Amber as well. I messaged her, and so we got to talking. We each had separate businesses at home doing similar things, and we were business friends already. We decided during this phone conversation that this (Sweet Tea) would be a huge business venture for one person to take on by themselves.

AJ: She just up and said, would you be my partner? And that’s all that happened. Four days later we’re sitting at a closing table.

JC: We knew that someone would get it quickly and that we didn’t think it could go past a third owner.

AJ: We felt it needed a change, somebody needed to grab hold of it and make it something that it hadn’t been yet.

JC: Our husbands hadn’t even met before. …. It’s better that we weren’t friends before. We’re family now, but we weren’t when we did this.

AJ: Our relationship is founded on business, and we had a huge respect for each other from the beginning. We both bring certain skills to the table. We just did it. Now, of course, we love each other’s children and we’re like family. But we started with business.

JC: It was the best timing for retail, it was not the best timing for us because we were unprepared. I was able to give a one week notice at my job. One week.

AJ: And it was dead in the middle of a huge school order for me, and I was like, I’m not playing around. We’ve got to go! But it was good because we got a really big check our first week, so that timing was good, but we weren’t ready.

JC: Now we’re doing what we should have done if we’d opened at a different time of the year and had had more time to prepare. We’re cleaning out and getting rid of things so we can bring in more boutique clothes. And that will be Sweet Tea. We are still in transition.

Sweet Tea 3Sweet Tea 1

Chatter and more laughter and talk about buying out inventory as they settle in…

AJ: In a relationship, there’s supposed to be someone that comes up with the crazy ideas, and someone that stops you, but we’re missing that person that stops you…because we both have crazy ideas!

JC: We have an accountant now, so she can tell us – no more!


PC: Biggest challenge?

AJ: First, it was lack of being able to hire. Because we opened so fast, we didn’t have payroll set up and all that. Now we have all that done. So at first, it was people and time. Our husbands, our children, I can’t tell you how many times we sat on the floor with pizza, our kids taking naps on gymnastic mats. Our girls, we so appreciate them, we adore them.

JC: Now, it’s stocking and inventory as we get the store turned into Sweet Tea. When we get things in, we sell out, so we’re working on building our inventory, but it’s a good challenge to have.

(At this point, a gentleman from the high school comes in to chat about a student that will be working at Sweet Tea. There’s a school program that partners with local businesses, giving students experience interviewing and working. How cool is that? Win win for our community, right there!) 

AJ: Our number one hurdle is being a part of the York community and staying on top of knowing about events happening. If we know, we can be supportive and help. We want people to want to come here. Shop. Eat. Get ice cream. But we’ve been lucky.

JC: We have. There haven’t really been any roadblocks because we just work through whatever we need to. The day we opened – because of the fire inspection – we opened at 5:30pm, but we opened. We’re determined.

PC: Poignant moment/ memory so far?

JC: I would have to say the fund raiser we did in January. We did a fund raiser for the officers that were shot. Amber’s dad is a retired narcotics officer, so she grew up knowing all these guys, and I am very thankful for everything these officers do for us. It didn’t take us long to figure out that, hey, we can do a fundraiser with our t-shirts. So we got in touch with the sheriff to follow etiquette, and we figured we’d do, like, 200 t-shirts? No. We did over 1300+ t-shirts, and I can’t tell you how many times we were in tears because we were so overwhelmed with the support from the community for those officers and how everybody came together.

AJ: We sat down and figured up how much we had raised and we were so humbled. We drove straight to the bank and we got that cashier’s check and drove straight to the sheriff’s department. Opened late that day. Not only giving them that check, but seeing how this community comes together. We’ve had big personal celebrations, but that was with the nation. We shipped shirts to fourteen states. That was a nationwide celebration of these heroes and that’s a big deal to us.

Sweet Tea resides in the heart of downtown, and sells boutique clothing, accessories, and gifts. They are recently known for their ability to make swag in bulk – from coasters to t-shirts – they can print business gifts, team outfits and much more. Please go visit and check them out at:

Jessie and Amber of Sweet Tea
Jessica and Amber (left to right)

Sweet Tea

41 North Congress Street, York, SC 29745

Tuesday – Friday, 10am – 6pm, Saturday, 10am – 2pm


Also, find them on Facebook!





Penny Lemberger of Palmetto Rose Mercantile

People of Yorkville – Penny Lemberger of Palmetto Rose Mercantile

We had such an in depth visit, it would take me forever to write word for word our conversation and all the rabbit trails we took in our time together. So instead, I want to highlight the many, many offerings at Palmetto Rose Mercantile, and then I’ll share a tidbit from our interview.

  1. They offer Brunch every day! Penny at Palmetto Rose6So you’re out running errands, stopping by the courthouse to drop off a motion, coming downtown to pay your taxes – well, stop in for a mid morning treat, coffee, or even a breakfast!
  2. Palmetto Rose has started offering a Dinner on the Go option for busy families. Simply call in one day in advance and order a family size meal. Then pick it up on your way home. Penny at Palmetto Rose5
  3. Their lunches are healthy and delicious! Perfect place for a gourmet sandwich and meet up with a business associate or a friend.
  4. They offer tea parties for ladies’ groups and for birthday parties. She has full settings, and a wonderful room for the perfect gathering!
  5. Saturdays at the Mercantile – Starting March 3rd, Penny is opening her lawn for people to host yard sales, craft booths, etc. It’s free to set up a booth, just make sure to call Penny for details! What a fabulous way to start off a leisurely weekend.

Interview –

Me: Development, so tell me…I thought you were selling off your rentals and now…so what’s going on?

PL: A partner and I, a long, long time friend, we own thirty eight acres along Lincoln Road. I’m a tiny little partner in that. We bought it about ten years ago right before everything fell apart, well now we were thinking about selling it. But then we realized there’s such a housing shortage, we’ve thought about developing it ourselves. Timing is better; the market’s better. We resurrected our plan from ten years ago, and we’ve talked with the city, and we talked with engineers.

Before this (running Palmetto Rose), I renovated houses one at a time, and I really like doing that. But when the market straightened itself out, there were no more fixer uppers left, and this property became available. So I started Palmetto Rose Mercantile, and now I’m selling the building and the business. Everything in here is negotiable. It could also be for lease if someone wanted to run their own cafe. I’m selling/ leasing it so that I can go focus on new projects I want to do.

Me: So if you had someone take over Palmetto Rose, you’d go focus on the Lincoln Road development?

PL: Well, that, and maybe something else as well. … I’d love a rehab, or maybe a lot I can build a small house on.

Me: How long have you been in York?

PL: 1999. I was living in California, and I met my husband out there. He was originally from Wisconsin, but he had lived in Columbia in the 80’s. He was only in California because of his job. So when we decided to move back east, because I grew up in TN and FL, we said he wanted to go near Columbia, but he felt that Charlotte may have better job opportunities.

I flew in, was here for three days, I’d never been here before, and the real estate agent lined up houses for me all over York County. The house I chose was in York, so I chose York because of the house. My husband hadn’t even been here, didn’t see the house until we moved here, we packed up everything and we drove cross country. We figured if we didn’t like it, we’d sell it and just go somewhere else. That was 20 years ago, and he loves living there.

Me: Well, you can’t leave York. At this point you’re a part of the community.

PL: Yeah! Well, we adopted a child, our only child, when we were in California. She was in the Marines, and she and my granddaughter moved back this past summer. Well, my mother was ill, and she ended up caring for my mother. So we went from empty nesters to having four generations under one roof. That was an adjustment! Now my daughter is figuring out what they’d like to do next, and I went from retired to being here a lot of the time. (Lots of life changes and transitions for the whole family!)

We spoke about family and retirement…….

But right now, I don’t want to go anywhere. I want my granddaughter to know she’s got a safe landing wherever she goes. I wouldn’t mind retiring though. I just don’t want to be married to something.

Penny starts talking about design on a renovation project she did on my street.

I miss the renovations because I love the design; figuring out how to re-configure rooms. It was a two bedroom one bath, and it was kind of weird. There were two living rooms and two front doors. So we took out one of the front doors and we turned that room into a bedroom. Then we added a half bath. So then we ended up with a two bedroom with an office and one and a half baths. That was fun! We put on the wall going into the kitchen a pallet wall, an accent wall. And then we put a fancy, bedazzled chandelier in that room, so it was the contrast of the pallet and the fancy.

Me: And you put hardiplank on that house too.

PL: On part of it. We tore off a porch, so when changed the front, we had to put the plank up.

We went on like this for a bit, and it was a lovely afternoon spent. Please go visit Penny at Palmetto Rose:

Palmetto Rose Mercantile/ http://palmettorosemercantile.com/

29 West Liberty Street

York, SC 29745



Tuesday-Friday   10:30am – 6pm
Saturday 10:30am – 5pm

Cagney Larkin of the Sylvia Theater


People of Yorkville’s very own…

Cagney Larkin of the Sylvia Theater

Me: Now are you the owner of the Sylvia?

Cagney Larkin – No, Paul Finnican is the owner, who purchased it in 2003 and revitalized it to such as you see today. I am the house manager, along with my partner Tyler. We run all the daily operations, book all the events, schedule all the films.

Me: Did you grow up here?

CL: I’ve been in York for 26 years now. Born and raised.

Me: Changes in York?

CL: I noticed recently an up and coming downtown, lots of new local businesses sprouting up, all the local businesses supporting each other, a real sense of community. I think we’ve had four new businesses in the last year and some more are coming this year.


Me: How long have you been with the Sylvia?

CL: My partner Tyler was actually playing music on the street last July, and the person that was here at the time offered him a job selling tickets. So Tyler started selling tickets, and brought me in. I’m a film student in Charlotte, and he originally brought me in to film concerts, and from there we ended up taking over running the theater. He was playing in front of the Jasmine Cafe, and he was asked to play at the farmer’s market, and from there he was found.

We continue our conversation about Cagney and Tyler’s vision for the Sylvia…

CL: We are trying to become a central part of York, we’re in a perfect location, we’ve got great restaurants right beside us, Jasmine Cafe has just opened up, there’s lots of businesses within walking distance, and we’re trying to revolutionize it and give people something to do every night of the week.

Me: Do you have a favorite moment?

CL: My favorite moment is honestly every day getting to experience this place as an historic landmark. It’s not everyday you get to work in a place with as much character as this place. It’s been modernized in some ways, but we’ve kept the vintage feel.

He explains that while some may worry historic building are like china shops, the Sylvia is a place you can come and your kids can run around and you can host parties.


Me: What’s the movie schedule?

CL: Thursday through Sunday – two shows on Saturday

Every Wednesday we’re hosting a theater open house. We’re throwing open the doors for free, and each month will have a theme. February’s theme is romance. (I hear through the grapevine Valentine’s Day will be Roxanne, but we’ll call that a rumor….) Each month will feature a different theme or genre and we’ll have the full bar open. (Happy hour, people! Go to the Sylvia!) There is definitely going to be something going on the screen, but no word as to exactly what. Free admission; We want to give people a low pressure way to get out in their community without feeling the need to spend money. What better way than to open our business and offer something for free?

Oh, and we’ll never show anything over PG-13, so we’ll be kid friendly and families are welcome.

Doors open at 7pm, and I’ll start something when people seem ready. And we may eventually implement an open mic night and karaoke to add to the evening.

Me: How about if someone wanted to rent out the facility?

CL: Birthdays – less than fifty people is $200, come in and all watch a film, do your cake and presents. If you have over 50 people, the price goes up in tiers.

Events – $475, and you can sell tickets to offset the cost 


After our interview, Cagney invited me to come back to visit the following evening so that I could experience their upcoming Elvis Impersonator. Umm, yes, sirree I certainly did! Absolutely worth it and so, so much fun! I secretly thought that I might end up the youngest member of the audience, and while Elvis does bring out the more mature ladies of our community, I witnessed people of all ages joining in with the excitement of such an entertaining live performance. And guess what? There were TWO Elvises so that his early works and his later works could be more realistically portrayed. What a show! I certainly will make plans to go back, and I highly recommend you give the Sylvia a visit yourself!

Chantha Kaing of Rainbow Donuts

Chantha Kaing of Rainbow Donuts

Rainbow Chantha

PH: Are you the owner?

CK: No…I work for my niece.

PH: This is a family owned business?

CK: Yes ma’am.

PH: How long have you been in York?

CK: Two years. (The business has been opened two years, and Chantha has been in York two years.)

Chantha continues… We’re from California. We came here to be with family…. My niece is not from California. My niece is from here.

PH: What is one of the differences between living in California and living in York?

CK: Here is kind of different. California is more noisy, a lot of people, it’s busy. And here it’s just, it’s not really…. It’s more quiet here, and I like it because there’s no traffic, and I go everywhere, I don’t have to get online. And I come for the people, so.. (she prefers York!)

Everything here is cheaper. California is so expensive. (Customer jumps in to agree. She had moved here from Maine!)

PH: Tell me about the shop. Who makes the donuts?

CK:  The baker, My husband. My husband makes the donuts.

PH: Someone told me he gets up at 3am and comes in to make the donuts. Is that true?

CK:  Oh My. He almost spends the whole night here. He comes to prepare because it’s a small business and he makes them from scratch. He works nighttime, and I come in the morning.Rainbow Donuts

PH: You’re famous for your donuts. I remember when you first came, we were all so excited for a DONUT SHOP!!  What’s your favorite donut?

CK: I like the Apple Fritters. (She smiles. Y’all, the apple fritters are everybody’s favorite. They’re ridiculously delicious.)

PH: And what’s your favorite lunch item?Rainbow menu

CK: We have American food. We have the paninis. And hamburgers and hotdogs. And we have the Chinese food. My favorite is the panini. Any of them.Rainbow panini

I must say, after the interview, I took a bit of lunch home to try out the paninis. Between the roast beef panini and the grilled cheese and bacon panini, my family couldn’t complain. In fact we are quickly becoming regulars!

Rainbow Donuts


602 West Liberty Street

York, SC 29745


Kenny Childers and Jordan Garrett of Dogma and Fetch

Downtown York offers an eclectic group of store owners, with life passions that lead them into business.
Please meet our latest People of Yorkville, Kenny Childers and Jordan Garrett, of Dogma and Fetch. Due to the busy nature of running a retail store, we instead opted for a email interview and a quick visit at the shop.
Dogma and Fetch 5
Me: What was your inspiration to start the store?
Kenny and Jordan: This is a easy one, the love for animals, especially our 5 dogs Abby, Bailey, Cody, Dexter and Evan. They were a huge inspiration for opening the store.
We decided to dive into our hobby and make it a full time business.
(I’m curious if their furry family members aren’t also the inspiration for the fun and lively pet paintings throughout Dogma and Fetch? Note to self – find out who does their artwork!)
Me: How long have you been York residents?
Kenny – originally from York, I have lived here 45 years (all my life), with the exception of living in Charlotte & NC  for about  6 years.
Jordan is from NC and has been in York for 17 yrs.
Dogma and FetchDogma and Fetch 3
Me: What is your favorite part of being in Downtown York?
Kenny and Jordan – Making relationships with dogs and dog owners. We also love the history of the downtown and its buildings.
Kenny –  As a child I rode my bike and walked the streets and shopped these stores for years, so for me York is home. And what’s more comfortable than home? We enjoy working in a quaint downtown atmosphere.
Me: Since opening Dogma and Fetch, which moments have stood out as especially poignant?
Kenny and Jordan – Being downtown for 16 years, it has saddened us to see so many businesses closing up shop. Watching other businesses/banking and services move away from the downtown/historic area to follow a trend. That (movement away from downtown) is changing the way, and what, places that York and the surrounding area will support.
Dogma and Fetch 6
Full lines of pet care products
Dogma and Fetch 2
Baked treats
Dogma and Fetch offers a wide variety of pet services, from basic supplies to gifts to fresh baked treats to grooming services. An anchor in downtown, Dogma and Fetch is definitely a destination worth visiting for any animal lover, and must see for all dog owners!
Dogma and Fetch
24 N. Congress St.
York, SC 29745

Penee with Penny Moss

People of Yorkville Series

Penee with Penny Moss

Me: How long have you been in business?

PM: 17 years. I’ve been in this location (26 North Congress) a little over a year. I started out at 17 North Congress and I was there five or six years and then that building sold, so I had to move. I was going to build onto my house, and Ann over here at Hummingbird Florist heard I was leaving downtown, and she said, ‘You can have my building.  I’ll give you the same rent. We don’t want you to leave downtown; you’re a big asset.’ So I moved from 17 down to 35, which is now Holley’s Beaded Dragon.

Penny goes on to explain that she then, through a series of events, ended up moving across the street to 26 North Congress, which is where her spa currently resides.

We’re having conversation about client base, where people come from…

PM: My type of business, these days people fist pump, they use hand sanitizer, they don’t like people touching them. They communicate through typing and text, you know; nobody really gets touched. Especially if you’re single. And so a destination like this, once you come to relax – and I won’t even just say Penee – a massage therapist, somebody you can connect with and that can also touch you and can pray over you….you remember that. It stays in your heart.

God called me to this. He gave me a vision. I was working in corporate America and I had a terrible day one day. And I went and got a massage. I went to Carmen and Carmen because I worked in downtown Charlotte. I went in and I was like – I need a massage, I need to relax. She said, ‘We don’t have any massage appointments available but we have a facial.’  I’d never had a facial before, but I took her word and went in. And sure enough, I was at one of those crossroads in life and I was laying there and I was in tune with the Spirit and He gave me a vision. He showed me doing what she was doing to me. And I thought, gosh, this is what I need to do! I researched it, went and took out my 401K, lived off my 401k, went to school, and opened up my business in December.

She went on to share about getting started and moving into her own space, the first space at 17 North Congress.

It has been like that. He (God) has opened doors. Every time.

Penee - Penny Moss
Penny Moss sharing essential oil samples

Me: Memorable clients, moments, stand out poignant instances?

PM: I would say this is the one… The Lord put a specific calling on my life. He said you will make people happy and you will inspire a billion. And I didn’t know what “billion” meant. And then He sent me to the Pregnancy Crisis Center and I learned that one in three women have had an abortion. Well, I had an abortion in my early twenties and I knew God had forgiven me, but I didn’t realize I hadn’t forgiven myself. So I actually got healed from an abortion I had 20 years ago. It put me in dangerous situations with men, with life, I didn’t feel I was worthy, and I overdid myself trying to make up for that. And I got healed there. So, I am a career counselor there on Wednesday, and I counsel women that are in crisis situation.  …  Well, when I share my testimony here (Penee), and I don’t share it with just anybody, but when God lays it on my heart to share, I would say those instances are the ones I remember.

Penny goes on the share that when she shares her story at her spa, women will open up and share their stories with her. Women that have had their own abortions, their own traumas early in life and haven’t ever told their husbands. Women open up about burdens they’ve held on to from before ….. Before marriage, before kids, before ____.

PM: And it is such freedom to be able to speak it. And some of these women have never said it. And when they say it, it’s just a flow of tears, and the enemy can’t hold them anymore. It’s like Vegas in here. What is said in here, stays in here, and people know that. It’s a place to come out of the world, to just come in here and be gone for a little bit and just recharge.

What is a facial?

Penee 3I have a 30 minute, 1 hour, and an hour and a half. If you’re a beginner, and you just want to feel it out, I recommend the 30 minute, but after, you’re usually like, Ohh, I need an hour at least! It like Starbucks – you got the tall, the grande, and the whatever.

There’s a double cleansing, an exfoliating mask, a peeling mask, I put it on and I have these cucumber eye patches and then I start the massage. I start with the decollete (the shoulder blade, chest area), and then I go to the shoulders, and the neck and down the arms and then I put a heated bag across your chest. Then I go down and I massage your feet. Our hands and our feet are all connected to our organs, so I use different massage techniques on your hands and feet. I put essential oils on your feet. I have a scanner I use on your hand so I know what oils to use, and I put a hot towel over their face, and then I ask if there’s something I can pray over them for, and then I take that hot towel and that last mask off. I then use a toner, a serum, and a thicker cream over dry spots and I put on an eye cream, and that’s about it.

Me: That is a facial?!? Laughter…SOOO much better than Walmart! (I joked about buying my facial scrub at Walmart because I am not typically a girly girl.) It does not even compare!

PM: (Laughs) It does not even compare!

Penee 4

Then she explains lots of other treatments she can do. Visit her website for dermabrasion, peels, make up, and more.

She goes on to discuss future plans and listening for God’s call. Penny has started a Facebook page called Heart Rebalanced for women that would like to reach out to her. Penny and I had a wonderfully uplifting conversation, and I highly recommend everyone go see Penny. She has such a positive and infectious, joyful spirit that any customer is sure to have a renewing and heart filled experience.

Penee Spa

26 North Congress Street, York, SC 29745


One Word

cropped-cropped-door-at-brattonsville-2014.jpgOne Word.


















I must admit, in a culture of more, having a way to focus the entire year seems smart. What a marvelous solution to the overwhelming push of excess in our lives, living into just one word, c’est la vie to all other words. 

I drove around for at least two days, sometimes consciously, sometimes not, thinking about the concept of choosing my word. Did I feel brave? Could I be persistent? Do I even want to dominate? What if I failed at faith? Am I ready for growth

I thought about the New Year’s card the boys and I created together.



Charis. Grace.

Eucharisteo. Thanksgiving.

Chara. Joy.

– from an interview with Ann Voskamp, found here.

It’s amazing how our Spirit reaches out, touching our thoughts; how a soul feels what a brain names. The tears welled up, and I drove along, streaks running down my cheekbones. Friends and family gifted us more love than I shall ever be able to repay. What humbleness it is to receive that which is unpayable!

2017- a year of such intense heartbreak and challenge and turmoil – held captivating miracles of Grace, Thanksgiving, and Joy.

And yet, as the rush subsides and the memories of a year past slow, I feel fear – a pinch of the throat, a doubt in my choice, a questioning of my ability to live into such a courageous word. Because every time in my life I have chosen a path righteous for God, requiring focus and discipline and practice and intentionality, the devil has shown up to play. I am not sure I am willing to tempt the devil just yet, and I am certainly doubtful I am ready to give what Eucharisteo asks. Eucharisteo is the act of saying in the face of agony that I choose Thanksgiving. I choose Joy. I choose Grace. In the face of adversity and trauma, during the storm of chaos and legalities and uncertainty, I choose God. I choose to give thanks. I choose Eucharisteo. It comes before all else. It must come first in order for the forgiveness and the love and the faith to come too. To choose Eucharisteo means to choose bravery and courage, to give thanks for the broken and the angry and the whole mess. To say in this hard good, I choose to see God, I choose to say Thank you. For all of it.


That feels quite daring, and frankly, a bit audacious. 

(Thank goodness I have a whole year to work on it.)

**My current reading list that has greatly influenced my thoughts and writings recently:

One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown

Going Home.

I’m good at teaching, a gift I’ve confidently used for more than half my life. I’ve taught third grade, sixth grade, special education, preschool, homeschool, private school, music lessons… I can teach.

But playing teacher and being an actual student aren’t necessarily so familiar as merely different sides of a coin. I hadn’t taken a test without an answer key in twenty years, and the prospect of doing such a thing all over again seemed a bit overwhelming. Yet, there I was, sitting cross legged on the back row of a modern classroom, attempting to focus for stretches of time on just one subject.

Real Estate. Realtor. The act of helping others buy property, buy houses, businesses, large investments, buy homes. That’s the subject of the tests I willingly took.

And after class, and when my world seemed exhausting and when I needed to breath easily, I went to my own home. Home to my kids. Home to my dog.

Home to my particular spot on my particular couch. I just. went. Home.

An old fireplace with an intricately carved mantle surrounding old, faded, sooted brick. Antique apple crates stacked in such a pattern as to create the perfect desk base. My child’s portrait hanging on the foyer wall. A viola propped at attention. Books stacked carelessly, piled high about every room.

The dog, blonde and small, curled in his favorite chair, snoring quietly. Soft, worn rugs scattered about the house. An extra large bed, wrapped in flannel and down, warm lamps illuminating pale corners. Sudsy soap in the kitchen sink, last night’s dishes haphazardly soaking, the hum and slosh of the dishwasher running.

Children stomping through the hall, doors opening and closing loudly, hurried sounds of boys focused on the business of play. My mother’s ring resting in the pottery dish a child’s hand shaped years ago. Light streaming through the cool glass of a front window. Daylight indoors. Me, nestled beneath the coverlet, computer perched on a pillow, writing.

After a weekend of classes, it was these familiarities that fed me. Nourished me for another week. Wrapped me warmly, welcoming and restful.

When I visit my childhood abode, or I breathe Tennessee air or drink coffee on my porch in York – When I set bare feet upon damp, warm soil or I attend a Sunday service at an Episcopal Church or I sit in the balcony at Allison Creek Presbyterian – I experience home.

Home.DogMonths have passed since real estate school. The license firmly hangs at Keller Williams in Fort Mill. Marching forward, real estate offers new, surprising, fun opportunities.  And still, at the end of the day, that particular couch in that particular house on that particular street calls on me.

The little blonde dog waits, curled and snoring. And I, well, I go home.

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.


Frank’s Jewelers

Frank's 2
Silver pieces with exchangeable gems

Last week I had the distinct opportunity to speak with Walter of Frank’s Jewelers in York. Walter’s wife runs the anchor store in Clover, while the branch store in downtown York sits settled right on Congress Street since 2003.

Frank's 3
Silver rings with exchangeable stones

We did not engage in a formal interview, but instead spent a good hour talking casually about all sorts of things. I asked lots of questions for myself, personally needing to update and exchange a few pieces of jewelry myself, and we toured the shop at length, me admiring lots of gorgeous pieces. Having lived in York six years now, I am ashamed to say this was the first time I had been in Frank’s Jewelers, having wrongly assumed that it was a high end store out of my economical grasp.


Frank's 6
Men’s gifts
Frank's 5
Prayer Bracelets from Nepal

In truth, the shop is perfect for our small downtown, offering a wide variety of intricate, simple, and exquisite jeweled items that are in fact, often affordable. I will most certainly become a quick regular and look forward to visiting Walter often in the future.

His store encompasses:

jewelry repair, watch repair, appraisals, engraving, special orders, interest-free layaway, gift certificates, precious metal recycling, trade in/ trade up, jewelry care

Frank's 4