Bringing beauty and a little – or a lot – of joy to others is no small feat. For the business owners featured this month, their dreams reach out to their customers with love, leaving a trail of happy memories of big events and thoughtful gifts.
Julia Sears and Granny Morgan
Julia Sears and Mamie Morgan have rolled out the welcome mat for anyone dreaming of their wedding day. Their boutique, Opal Bride, opened in 2021, with the goal of minimizing some of the stressors that can complicate the big day.
The couple became friends because Sears had been Morgan’s wedding photographer. It was Sears’ dream to open a bridal boutique, but the partnership with Morgan changed the future for both of them.
“I’ve always secretly loved the bride,” Morgan says. “But, you know, as an academic, I always wanted to be taken seriously, super seriously with a capital S, whatever that means. I loved the bride from a very young age, but I was a little private about it, because I thought it was silly. And it’s not, of course. It’s a really complex, psychological, fiscal, emotional system.
The couple met for a fateful lunch in 2021 and soon signed a lease on their Pendleton Street location.
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“The space felt like a 1980s office space,” says Morgan. “We only had a few months to really get in there and outfit it.”
Sears began planning the idea in 2018, though the pandemic forced it to put it on hold. With years as a wedding photographer and a bit of retail work, she thought her idea was successful. She wanted an intimate, independent place where brides could be celebrated for who they are.
“That was one of the fundamental elements of the store, was that I wanted it to be a place where everyone could feel comfortable,” says Sears. “There are a lot of things in planning a wedding, a lot of things you’ve never done before that you don’t know. I want to help provide answers to those questions. Any guy Shopping for clothes might not be the most fun experience and especially shopping for clothes. It’s just intimidating. It can be scary. I wanted to create an environment where people could just get excited and have fun. feel like they’re going to be celebrated every step of the way for this part of their lives that is a big, exciting day.
Sears and Morgan view weddings with a welcoming and open approach.
“Weddings can be so stressful and overwhelming that our goal was not just inclusivity, which is a primary goal for us, but under the umbrella of inclusivity, we wanted comfort,” Morgan says. “Julia saw an opportunity for a store focused on sustainability, so we have designers who are independent and really driven by sustainability, but also very comfortable and relaxed, because it’s already such an overwhelming experience.”
For Sears and Morgan, the road to Opal Bride was a winding one, but it led to the perfect match.
“It was his dream, and it was his plan,” Morgan says. “And she needed me and I kind of knew I needed direction, and we kind of found each other.”
Learn more at opalbride.com.
Sabrina Carapia can almost pack good feelings into a box. Its curated and personalized gift sets are pretty close.
For corporate clients, bridesmaids, hosts and more, Carapia has launched Twine Shop Co. to combine its handmade candles, local coffee and treats, and delicious accompaniments into gifts that make smile the recipients. She now provides them locally and nationwide via her website.
Carapia traveled to Greenville via Brazil, then Vermont and Florida. After a decade in real estate, she started working as a social media manager, but pursued her dream after falling in love with her new hometown.
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“Twine started because I obviously got out of social media management,” she says. “It didn’t feel right anymore. And I wanted to build a business that was more physical than digital, and it all started to fall into place from there.
Carapia didn’t start her business on a whim. There was extensive research before she took the leap.
“I first started with candles,” she says. “I have an in-house candle studio, which I wholesale and also retail. I wanted to start with experiments – with smell, the sense of touch. And then the box is also a visual experience. When you give a gift to a customer, it creates a memory. I wanted to create a product that creates a memory of connection and relationship with someone.
Part of its efforts focus on sourcing from eco-friendly companies and supporting local manufacturers.
“Just like me as a small business, I do a happy dance, every time an order comes in,” she says. “I know these are local makers, and they put their soul into it too.”
Though she’s reinvented herself and her career path many times before, Carapia says it’s always a leap of faith to open a small business, especially in a time when so much of the future is unpredictable.
“It’s very scary,” she said. But his dream and his business are worth the risk.
“I understand that as long as you invest, work and get out, nothing is obviously guaranteed – but as long as I do the job, do it right and do what feels right for me and the respect for others, I think that’s kind of a combination that for me it works,” she said. “It’s very scary. There are no guarantees, but I believe so much in what I do.
Learn more at twineshop.co