From their determination to improve the quality of life, Charleston’s women entrepreneurs deserve celebration.
Pioneer Women of Charleston
A role model to many, Elizabeth Timothy was America’s first female newspaper editor and publisher and one of the world’s first female journalists. Timothy inherited her role as publisher after her husband passed away because their son was too young to fill the role. Subsequently, this also made her the first woman in America to hold a franchise.
Dorothy Haskell Porcher Legge is credited for creating Charleston’s now-famous “Rainbow Row.” A pioneer in Charleston’s historic preservation, Legge fell in love with the 18th-century mercantile structures in disrepair on East Bay Street.
Her revitalization of one of the structures, which she painted an unconventional peach color, attracted others to do the same. The result was the preservation of this lovely row of pastel-painted buildings, now protected under Charleston’s historic zoning ordinance.
Women of Charleston: Hotels
Two hoteliers have helped some of the city’s most stressed-out residents receive relief during these tough times.
Continuing traditions started by preservationist Legge and others, hotel owner and strategic visionary Lynn Easton oversaw the creation of the beautiful boutique Zero George. The hotel encompasses five historic Charleston single-style homes.
Lynn, the founder of the Easton Porter hotel group, has demonstrated true Southern hospitality. She set up a relief fund p for employees to mitigate some of the financial struggles. Additionally, they were rehired as quickly as possible.
The owner of Post House, Kate Towill, showed a commendable (or possibly insane) amount of bravado during the current pandemic. She opened Post House during the pandemic after a two-year renovation of the 1896 building.
Towill helmed the transformation of the historic neighborhood restaurant and inn into a coastal tavern and inn offering seasonal fare, classic cocktails and cozy hotel rooms.
She was also a voice of true Southern comfort during the pandemic months. Towill reached out to the community and extended complimentary Monday-night “Night Off” stays to chefs and restauranteurs.
Women of Charleston: Eateries
Determination and perseverance have helped these restaurants, cafes and bakeries survive in the recent tough times.
Butcher & Bee and The Daily
Shemtov and her husband, along with their team from Butcher & Bee, started a charity at the beginning of the pandemic. The charity feeds out-of-work F&B employees and buys from local purveyors who suddenly found themselves with excess inventory.
The effort morphed into a nonprofit Pay it Forward Charleston that gives grants to F&B workers.
Growing up in the restaurant industry, Madison White understood the competitive challenges. Some might say that opening a restaurant during a pandemic was the height of folly, but not to White.
Fearless and aware, White had faith in Charleston’s culinary scene. She used her position as general manager to offer employment to an industry in dire need of work. The city’s newest outpost for Lowcountry seafood, Tempest was named the “best new restaurant” in USA Today’s Readers’ Choice poll.
The Tempest also happens to be one of the city’s most attractive restaurants with magnificent glass tile ceiling panels and arched brick architecture.
Saint Honoré Pastry
Saint Honoré began as a wholesale and retail pastry company providing desserts to restaurants and high-end caterers. When the pandemic hit, co-owners and classically trained pastry chefs Claire Chapman and Kelly Wilson had to change their model to survive.
Re-framing their business, they established an online menu for direct-to-consumer, curbside pick-up of treats like tomato pies and chocolate-chip sea-salt cookies. Plans are underway for a retail shop.
Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit
Carrie Morey founded her handmade biscuit business to share her childhood favorites. Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit eateries and food truck garnered a cult-like following, creating an instantly recognizable Southern brand.
Morey pays her success forward as a member of the Southern Restaurants for Racial Justice coalition and mentor for artisan food entrepreneurs and black-owned restaurants.
Women of Charleston Shops
Two shops bring signature creativity and dedication to the city of Charleston:
Turning Page Bookshop
Turning Page Bookshop is the product of the hard work and commitment of founder VaLinda Miller. Recognizing the need for a bookstore in her community, she opened South Carolina’s second black-owned bookstore.
Miller is a huge proponent of community and notes that she is not in the business for profit, but to “change the world with thought and behavior one book at a time.” The bookshop recently celebrated its second anniversary.
The Tiny Tassel
Her online success has led to the opening of the first Tiny Tassel store, where the inclusion of creations from local black, women-owned businesses are designed to increase recognition of women of color.
Women of Charleston: Arts, Wellness & Charity
Gibbes Museum of Art and The George Gallery
Angela Mack is executive director and chief curator at the Gibbes Museum of Art, home to the foremost collection of American art that incorporates the story of Charleston.
In her role, she spearheaded an important renovation of the 112-year-old Beaux Arts building and implemented forward-thinking programs including more diverse exhibits.
In concert with Anne Siegfried of The George Gallery, an online art auction was created to keep the museum afloat when the pandemic hit.
Earthling Day Spa & Pilates
Helping others stay well and healthy is what motivates Aby Cass every day. More than 30 years ago Cass envisioned a sanctuary in the heart of Charleston that would introduce wellness benefits to counter daily stress.
After receiving certification in her two passions, massage and Pilates, she opened Earthling Day Spa & Pilates Studio. Ever the self-care visionary, Cass added global modalities like Thai Detox and Shirodhara to her menu.
When the pandemic prohibited one-on-one contact, she turned her energy towards volunteering at a food distribution site.
Pounce Cat Café
Ashley Brooks and Annaliese Hughes are the cat crazies behind Pounce Cat Cafe. The café’s mission is to move homeless and shelter cats into loving families.
All cats residing at the cat café are up for adoption. To date, Brooks and Hughes have found homes for more than 2,000. Enjoy some wine and find a new friend.
Author Bio: Traveling has given Meryl Pearlstein a chance to “live” all over the world, something she’s always longed to do. A member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), Meryl is the author of Fodor’s Family: New York City with Kids and a contributor to Splash Magazines, Travel Supermarket and City Guide. Meryl’s blog, Travel and Food Notes, www.travelandfoodnotes.com, is a lively companion to her column on www.AllNY.com. Follow her on social media @merylpearlstein.