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Portraits of South Carolina

It’s more important to understand someone than to judge them. We think the first step to understanding someone is asking them the fundamental questions about who they are and how they became the person they are today. Understanding and empathy are essential building blocks for a better, more compassionate world. We’re incredibly fortunate to be able to ask these questions each week through our interview series. Below you’ll find inspiring interviews from in and around South Carolina.

Patrick Lydon

We are a band formed by two brothers and their mutual friends. 4 out of 5 of the members attended UNC Chapel Hill for college but we did not all meet there. We span age ranges of 23-30yo. I think the pandemic has been the biggest struggle thus far. In 2019 we worked really hard to get into a really good place, had a really awesome tour planned for the Spring/Summer of 2020, opening for some bands that I have dreamed about playing with, and then the pandemic hit and it felt like we had lost all our progress. Read more>>

Octavia Edwards

Hello Camila, To help move things along, please see below. I have shared with you my story on my non-profit website and business website. I would like for you to extract from both of them to present my story that displays my story as a whole.  Founder and Executive Director, Passion Project Initiative Inc. Co-Owner, Acute Heating & Cooling Mother, wife, education activist, social change advocate, businesswoman, and many other words could be used to describe Octavia Edwards, but none of them would fully capture her passion and drive. Read more>>

Christi Johnson

My business journey began in 2009 as a high school senior. I started doing photo sessions for my graduating friends for $50 each and also shadowed another local wedding photographer. I continued to photograph whatever I could and landed my first solo wedding for a friend in 2011. I remember hand editing 4 different versions of every photo because I wasn’t sure which one the bride would like the best. I had no idea that it was my job to make those creative decisions as the artist. I am eternally grateful for that first couple taking a chance on me!! Read more>>

Lindsey Fox

Sure! For starters, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I definitely never planned on becoming a therapist, business owner, or a podcaster of What The Fox?!™ podcast! I tested out a few different career paths early on in life before arriving where I am today. Two transferable skills that supported my success across different industries are my ability to assess and respond to operational breakdowns in communication, and how to speak up for what is working and what is not. Read more>>

Crystal Stocking

I grew up in Cumberland, a small town in Maryland. I have two brothers and a sister. My childhood was very challenging, and I was forced to grow up fast. In my family, college was not an option. The expectation was to graduate high school and get a job, but I always wanted more. Despite my hardships, I know my late parents did the best they could. I thank them for instilling in me self-discipline and an unwavering work ethic. Without these life lessons, I would not be the person I am today. Read more>>

Hailey Nagel

Perhaps you know me from years at Allure Salon on King St. or read mention of “Hailey Nagel the hairstylist” in Dorothea Benton Frank’s books, Return to Sullivan’s Island or Porch Lights. A Charleston native, I had been coloring Lowcountry blondes for 11 years when I decided to specialize in textured hair in 2016 because a guest enlightened me of the need. Always hungry for knowledge, I earned my Deva Curl certification through numerous trips to the academy in NYC, becoming one of the few Level 3 Deva Pros in the world.  Read more>>

Malik Henley

I’ve always had a love for using art to represent my feelings and emotions as well as using it as a way to expand my knowledge. I have a first grade “what I want to be when I grow up” book and I remember to this day writing and drawing about how I wanted to be an artist. And I’m really proud to say I did just that! I predominantly studied as a graphic artist but recently discovered a love of helping small business get the branding knowledge and tools they need to make their dreams come true. Read more>>


I’m an artist (rapper and songwriter) from North Augusta . I started making music in 2013 while I attended Charleston Southern University where I majored in Business Management and minored in Computer Science . Music has always been apart of my life and when I got to college I embraced the talent that I always knew I had but avoided my entire life. It’s been a rough road figuring out the ends and outs of music but it’s been very fulfilling. Nothing in this life comes without some type of struggle and I’m glad for all the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Read more>>

Ivan Tenorio

Starting in the summer of 2020 Divine Shine Auto Detail began with a few towels and some buckets. Previously working as a server at The Cliffs near Lake Keowee I learned a lot from people about building your own opportunities and going all in on an idea. I always had an entrepreneurial spirit to being my own boss but it was now time to execute those plans. With an opening wedge of some built relationships at my previous job, friends, and family members I slowly began to build a name for myself in the auto detailing service world at the initial starting period. And have never looked back since…Read more>>

Jesse Shirts

I have always loved music from as young as I can remember. I started playing guitar when I was 9. Through high school I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life. Then the summer before my senior year I discovered music production. I started by making beats in my room every day. Then later that year I got connected with Speaklife Studio in Spartanburg and did an internship. Ever since then I have been producing and mixing music full time as my career. I use social media to market and sell my skills and music. Read more>>

Thomas Holder

In 2019, I became interested in woodworking and started watching YouTube videos to teach myself. It quickly became a passion of mine. I started posting pictures and videos on Instagram as a way to show my progress as a maker, and my number of followers quickly grew. At that time, all of our orders were from friends and family. As the profile grew, we began to receive more custom orders from people outside our immediate circle. Read more>>

Emery Fuller

I have taken the long, windy path to get to the Charleston Area. I graduated from Southern Methodist University with a BA in Advertising, knowing I wanted to be ‘A Creative’. Soon afterwards I found myself at Miami Ad School in South Beach charging forward to be an Art Director. This path would take me to Amsterdam, where I consider I learned the most from Clare McNalley. A South African that would rip, marked through, and shredded ideas until you had that one spark. I stayed in Amsterdam for 6 more months for Clare. Read more>>

Tyler Malphrus

I grew up in Summerville, SC to a family of exceptionally hard workers…they didn’t just do things….they did it better. Knowing that I had big shoes to fill, my head was full of big dreams… there was nothing I couldn’t do, no one I couldn’t talk to.  I am an extravert and a self-proclaimed adreniline junkie, so sitting behind a desk was not for me. Throughout my child hood, I excelled in every sport, but I was too curious and imaginative for the structure of the classroom. Read more>>

Jeff Gregory

Band Members: Jeff Gregory, Moses Andrews, Chris Compton, Mike Scarborough, Kelley Gregory, Patrick Leitner, Sean Thomson The Runout is an alt-americana band that passionately explores friendship and experiences. We make music about blackwater rivers, about holding your lover tight, and about that feeling you get when you’re just runout….runout on the end of your rope…runout of hope….or out of dope. Read more>>

Hannah Ronningen

Hello! My name is Hannah and I opened my personal training business a little over a year ago. I have a passion for teaching women how to build confidence and improve their life through working out! For years I felt very insecure in my body and had zero confidence. Even after finally joining a gym I was too scared to leave the treadmill for over a year. After spending hundreds of hours doing cardio and getting no results, I knew I had to try something else. Read more>>

Kelli Smith

About Kelli Smith & Harlow Salon : Who I am, and who we (as a salon) are NOT Full Disclosure— we are salon with PERSONALITY. In 2015, I decided it was time to open a salon unlike any other in Charleston and pushed the envelope making Johns Island Harlow’s home. Somewhere with personality….. and a real life sense of “real” people. The moms, teachers, nurses, students, our neighbors, the women and men we stand behind in line at the grocery store. Read more>>

Michael Hutchinson

I started in the advertising agency business in 1973 as an art director for a small shop in Charlotte, NC. As I progressed in my career with larger more creative agencies I was fortunate to be able to work with some really good photographers in San Francisco, Atlanta, Los Angles, and New York. During my almost five decade career I started shooting my own work for the love of it, first in film and then digital. Read more>>

Bridgett Mitchell

I am Bridgett Peoples Mitchell, owner of TallyMallyDesigns where we do everything from personalized tees to full custom garment design. I began this journey in 2010 with the desire to create personalized pieces for my only little girl Talya. The business name actually derives from her nickname TallyMally. At the time I started the business I was employed full-time. After the birth of my 4th child, in 2013, I was blessed with the opportunity to do what I love on a full-time basis with the support of my husband Selwyn. This gave me the time and energy to focus on my brand and nurture it to where it is today. Read more>>

Jamie Jackson

I’m Jamie Jackson and I’m the owner of JJ’s Pop Shoppe. JJ’s Pop Shoppe began when my long term employer informed us that they were moving their corporate headquarters to another state and we could either move with them or leave the company when they moved. I decided not to move. I had a couple of years before I would be let go and started weighing my options on what I wanted to do next, which ultimately led me to being my own boss. Read more>>

Quintaisha Barr

My name is Quintaisha Barr, and I am the owner of OhSoBlingg. OhSoBlingg is a home based jewelry store located in Florence, SC. In September of 2018, I gave birth to a baby boy named Greyson Gabriel. He was, and still is, everything to me. The more he grows, my love for him grows and I knew that when I’m no longer on this earth I still want to be able to provide for him in a way that wouldn’t just run out. So, I decided to start him his very own business! Read more>>

Gary Cross

Well, I obtained my real estate salesperson license in 2003 and my broker license in 2006 while working for a national brokerage for 12 years. In 2015 I decided to open my own real estate brokerage called Cross Realty, LLC. In 2018 I was approached with the opportunity to teach those who were interested in real estate and pursuing their goals to become licensed. It never occurred to me the idea of teaching but when I began I must say I was nervous. Read more>>

Kari Evans

I started my entrepreneurial journey in 2004. I started as a Master Hair Care Specialist, while working as a stylist I continued to seek education and became a Certified Trichologist, one who specializes in hair loss. I’ve always had a passion for helping others. In the salon I would find myself always educating my clients on everything I had learned. Shortly after becoming a Certified Hair Loss Practitioner, I took an interest in how to naturally heal the body, so I sought education and became a Naturopathic Wellness Coach. Read more>>

Olivia Bonilla

I have been a creative ever since I can remember. In my younger years we didn’t have much, but I believe this was part of what drove my creativity. Forced to think creatively to entertain and occupy the time, from picnics on the green shag rug to riding bikes around the trailer park and making friends with all the stray cats. Play was always part of growing up, but also a way to escape. When I was younger my mother always fostered my creativity, and as a professional artist today I really appreciate her for that. Read more>>

Karena Bell

I knew from a very young age I wanted to be a business owner. When I finished high school in Ortonville, MI, I immediately enrolled in college excited to begin my education in business management, while working full time. I unintentionally started working in the banking industry in the IT department and fell in love with the innovation, the challenges, and the opportunity to support business from a technology standpoint.  Read more>>

Savannah Bradley

My Fiancé, Adam Wirthlin and I opened Off The Chain Dog Park Bar back in October 2021. We both grew up in the area and met in college. I received a degree in Biology from the University of South Carolina and Adam is currently an Airborne Ranger in the United States Army. We have two dogs (Mr. Peanutbutter and Pickles) and have a passion for beer. We decided to combine these two things and create our dream jobs. Read more>>

David Dyer

While growing up, I loved anything made out of leather. This passion continued as I grew up and eventually went to college with a leather satchel as by book bag. Towards the end of my college carrier, I was able to do a study abroad semester where I visited one of the oldest tanneries in the world located in Morocco. After this semester, I wanted a leather laptop case. Looking and researching, I did not end up wanting to pay for one but rather thought I could make it instead and this birthed my venture into leather good making. Read more>>

Andrea Durham

I grew up riding horses as a kid. I rode all the way until my sophomore year of high school. Unfortunately during my sophomore year, I discovered boys and a part time job which meant money to spend on clothes and stupid teenage stuff. Horses took a backseat. Fast forward to the age of 26 where I was diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer. I had to receive nine months of chemotherapy, and a total hysterectomy. I was devastated that I would never have the chance to decide for myself if I was ever going to have my own children. Read more>>

Morella Paolini

First of all, all my life I have been an animal lover, specially dogs. I have had dogs as long as I can remember, including in my country of birth. I am now an American Citizen, but I was born in Caracas, Venezuela. I came to this country in 1979. In Venezuela, I went to a British high school so I learned English at a young age. I wanted to come here to practice my English and that’s when I decided I wanted to live here. I went to College in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and obtain my Bachelors in Business Administration.  Read more>>

Christina Calzadilla

SunSouth Carolinas is a family owned Outdoor Living Company. We specialize in hardscapes and designs. We originally partnered with a crew that we hired to build a patio for at our home. We loved what they did for us and our new favorite room of the house was quickly created. With my husband both being bilingual and in business sales, he offered the idea of a partnership to this crew. SunSouth Carolinas was created in 2016. Although the labor side of our partnership left before he could begin our first project, Carlos kept this new found dream and grew it to where we are today. Read more>>

Rose Cofield

For me art has been a life-long adventure. My passion for exploring the possibilities of form and shape has been my prime motivation throughout my journey. Challenging myself with different materials has taught me to bend to the inherent attributes as well as the limitations of my chosen medium. Originally studying Sculpture at the Johnson Atelier Technical Institute of Sculpture in Princeton, NJ, I have transitioned from 3D to 2D work. Currently working in Mixed Media, abstract, I enjoy the immediacy of the medium.  Read more>>

Mahfam Braithwaite

I grew up in Fredericksburg, VA, and graduated with a Bachelors degree from Virginia Tech. I have a husband, two fur-babies (Simba and Dumbo) and a parrot. You can probably guess that I’m a huge Disney fan! I’ve always enjoyed taking pictures but never really took it seriously as a career until a few years ago. Before then, I only saw it as a hobby – a hobby that I very much enjoyed, nevertheless. I would always borrow my mom’s camera to take pictures of friends and family whenever I had time off from my day-to-day job working in the Dental industry. Read more>>

Rebecca BRUFF

Born in Amarillo, Texas which I she remember as flat, brown, and dry, my family moved to the Dallas suburb of Richardson, when I was in high school. It too was flat, a little less brown, and humid. After high school I went to Texas A&M. Because I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life and didn’t know how choose a major, I was encouraged to take placement tests to streamline the process (because, you know, education is all about efficiency!). I placed out of all the English and writing requirements and never took a class in what I loved most: language, words, and stories. Read more>>

Ashley Hunt-Poole

Mocktails For Mommy was creates during the height of the pandemic to provide a safe and more health conscious way to enjoy a cocktail but without the harsh affects of alcohol, especially for pregnant and breast-feeding moms. I was pregnant with my daughter at the time and I wanted to drink(of course I couldn’t). So I decided to create my own version of cocktail drinks but without the alcohol. Through my own recipes family, friends and through word of mouth Mocktails for Mommy took off. I started receiving orders -people wanted and needed mocktails for mommy. Read more>>

Alex & Laura Sawyer

We have a large homestead/farm 25 minutes north of Greenville, South Carolina where we craft all of our products as sustainably as possible while also raising much of what we eat. From a massive garden, to chickens, goats, and pugs; our homestead is always a sight to see. Our passion for healthy skin grew out of our desire to know where our food came from. After years of raising our own food we started to realize that what we put on our bodies was just as important as the food we consume. Read more>>

Martika Jackson

Dear Black Kingz & Black Girl Magic Sprinkles Kid entrepreneurs Our Mission is to empower our community through our amazing afrocentric products and outreach community events. The goal is to speak to our youth and let them know they are loved & powerful. The generations that we are building up are Kings & Queens. We speak affirmations, we uplift, we empower , and we motivate. We will be in households worldwide empowering “US”!! Read more>>

Angela Hughes Zokan

Growing up many things were important to me, but nothing was as important as the little yellow paint set and brush. It didn’t matter that all of the colors ran together or the paints were cracked, what mattered most was the fact that I was quickly engulfed and transported to the place of my choosing with the simple swoop of a brush. The brush allowed me to escape the chaos and create my own personal oasis at a young age. Read more>>

James Goldsmith

My name is James Goldsmith and I am an entrepreneur. I was born in Washington DC but grew up in Laurens County. I have my own graphic design/website design agency and magazine company. My graphic/website design company name is “Goldsmith Graphics Agency” and we have been in business officially since 2018. I love to create graphics from cartoons to websites, flyers, logos, etc. When you look around yourself you always see graphics. You can be driving on the highway you will see graphics. Graphic Design has saved my life financially wise.  Read more>>

Vilai Harrington

I went to college for the wrong reasons. I went just becuase everyone else was and didn’t have an actual plan in life. After the first semester on my freshman year I had received a cheap banjo and had my family’s ukulele. I learned as u went and started to write songs instead of going to class. I had always enjoyed sing growing up but never thought I would do.anything with it. 10 years later I am thankful that life has taken me through the path of music. Being a singer songwriter has its ups and downs but I is a path that is never boring. Read more>>

Malaysia Harp & Keenan Olivera

We started Mushie Charms in 2021 as a solo project for my (Malaysia) resin/macramé jewelry and essential oil blends. My partner Keenan is a glass blower with amazing talent and one day our two talents became one! We love collaborating with each other as we share similar ideas and creative vision. Since the start of it all we have done 10 vending events in the Charleston area and soon will vend at our first festival on July 10th at the Woodlands Nature Reserve for Artcelium Fest: Summer Edition. Read more>>

Devajio Thompson

I moved to Charlotte, North Carolina at the end of 2019 very impulsively. I didn’t really have a plan or know what I wanted to do with my life. I just knew that I needed a change of scenery. That’s where the universe was pushing me. I worked a job that I hated. Although it was only 3 days a week, they were 3 long 12 hour shifts. 6:00 pm to 6:30 am every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I ended up meeting who I thought was going to be my wife up in Charlotte. So everything was going smooth until it wasn’t any longer. Read more>>

Rachel Davis

As with many good things in life, creating Matchstick Social came suddenly and evolved quickly. In the early summer of 2013, my now business partner, Amber Ludeman, called me to join forces and it took about 15 seconds for me to agree. Within a few weeks, we were working 12-hour days from my kitchen, and a month or so later we opened the Matchstick Social office in the heart of downtown Charleston. Now, more than 8 years later, we are proud to be an award-winning digital marketing agency with 6 incredible full-time employees. Read more>>

Tara LeClaire

Hello! My name is Tara LeClaire, I am the founder and CEO of Tara LeClaire Weddings. Thank you for taking the time to learn a little more about me! I am an Air Force wife with two amazing teenagers. My husband recently retired after 23 years in the Air Force, my son attends Charleston Southern University to become a pilot, and my daughter is a junior at Fort Dorchester High School. I am originally from Richmond Hill, Ga, and have lived in Charleston for the past 11 years. Before becoming a wedding planner, I worked for youth services with the Air Force for 9 years and moved all over the world with my family! A few years back a sweet friend of mine asked me to coordinate her wedding since she knew I had managed several events for the Air Force in the past. It was then that I fell in love with weddings! For 6 years I was a freelance/contract coordinator all over the Low Country until I started my own company three years ago. Read more>>

Shane Violette

My name is Shane Violette from Boston Massachusetts and I was raised in a family of touring musicians, so music has been part of my life since day one. I taught myself how to play and record just about all the instruments but the Bass is what I excelled at which started my career of playing bass for many bands and touring the East Coast most of my life which is great but life happens. Kids, wife, bills, etc… So, the next best thing other than “slapping the bass” is to record others for a living. In 1997 my father and I built a small home studio in the garage at my grandmother’s and boy we were busy, Year after year we upgraded the equipment outboard, and mics and mastered the craft, From 16 track 1″ to MCI 2″ reel to reel… Straight analog this is before digital recording was popular. lol. Read more>>

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